An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Richard Cannings  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Second reading (Senate), as of May 7, 2019
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that the Minister may, in developing requirements for public works, allow the use of wood or any other thing that achieves environmental benefits.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


May 23, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)
Feb. 7, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

September 26th, 2023 / 7 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I proudly rise today for the final right of reply to Bill S-222 at third reading. This bill, commonly known as the use of wood in government infrastructure bill, has a long history in this place, but I think it is safe to say after debate this afternoon and a vote tomorrow that it will finally become law in Canada.

I will try to be brief in my remarks, but I should give a little history of what is happening here today. It all started 13 years ago, in 2010, with a private member's bill put forward by the Bloc Québécois MP Gérard Asselin, as my colleagues here in the Bloc have already pointed out a couple of times this afternoon.

That bill specifically asked the minister of public works to consider the use of wood in building federal infrastructure, much as the Wood First Act had done in British Columbia the year before that and the Quebec Charte du bois did later in 2013.

My legislative assistant, Cameron Holmstrom, brought the bill to my attention in 2016 when I was looking for private members' bill ideas. I was keen on supporting the emerging mass timber sector, because the main proponent of that sector in Canada, indeed North America, was Structurlam, a company based in my hometown of Penticton, British Columbia.

I tabled that bill as Bill C-354 in 2017. It passed second reading into committee, and there it was amended to deal with some concerns about its specific focus on wood. Thanks to collegial work and some good ideas, some of them coming from Sandra Schwartz at Natural Resources Canada, the language in the bill was changed to emphasize the environmental benefits of prospective building materials.

I must say I was actually happier with the new version, which is something one does not always hear from someone who has had their private member's bill amended. It passed through the House of Commons in May 2018. Unfortunately, it languished in the Senate, an innocent bystander to some shenanigans there, and died with a lot of other private members' business when that Parliament ended just over a year later.

I want to thank once again my friend, Senator Diane Griffin, who introduced it in the other place as Bill S-222 in this Parliament in November 2021. That is what we are debating today. After passing through the Senate, it came to this chamber and is nearing the end of that journey.

I want to thank everyone who has spoken to this bill over the years and everyone who has supported it and made good suggestions about it.

I have talked to Adam Auer, an old student of mine, who is now the head of the Cement Association of Canada, about the new concrete products that will compete well under the terms of the bill.

I want to highlight also the support of the Forest Products Association of Canada, particularly Derek Nighbor, who has been a constant source of encouragement.

For decades, we built our big buildings out of concrete and steel. One of the main goals of this bill was simply to point out to the government and society as a whole that engineered wood is now a real option. Engineered wood, mass timber, will give our forest sector another domestic market to sell to, allowing us to reduce our reliance on the United States for lumber sales. Canada leads the continent in these sectors and government procurement will help us keep on track to stay in the lead.

The government has the capacity to carry out the intent of this bill. Through life-cycle analysis, it can provide fair assessments of all building materials for their carbon footprint and other environmental benefits.

This bill is a win-win-win for Canada. It would help build better infrastructure in our country, beautiful and safe buildings that would have a light footprint on our environment. It would also help us meet our climate targets and would spur innovation in the building materials sector.

This bill has enjoyed unanimous support throughout its latest journey in Parliament, and I am hoping that will continue after this debate.

Thanks once again to all who have spoken to this, to all who have contributed to it over the years.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 29th, 2023 / 11:45 a.m.
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Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this Senate bill.

First, I would just like to point out that the Conservative member who spoke earlier talked about how much the Conservatives support the bill. Of course, they could really show that support by ensuring that it receives speedy passage to move on to the next stage, instead of prolonging debate on the matter.

Canada's built environment is a significant contributor to GHG emissions, with more than 25% of GHGs coming from the construction, use and maintenance of residential, commercial and institutional buildings. The embodied carbon is the GHG emission arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance and disposal of building materials from building construction. It is responsible for 10% of all energy-related emissions.

In 2019, the World Green Building Council called for a 40% reduction in embodied carbon by 2030. To ensure that Canada meets its GHG reduction commitments, both energy use and carbon emissions need to be reduced simultaneously. This bill puts into law that, for most federal construction, GHG reduction must be a part of the planning process. It is the smart thing to do, and it is the right thing to do. Currently, this is only an internal federal policy.

Wood is one of the best materials for reducing the carbon footprint in buildings. The low embodied carbon of wood products stems from the fact that the manufacturing process is not energy-intensive, because it relies predominantly on electricity and uses long-lasting forest products that have sequestered carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Great advances have been made in tall wood construction. It is now possible to build more buildings in a safe, ecologically sensitive way than in past construction. These new technologies offer an obvious opportunity to increase the use of wood in building and thus support the forest sector in Canada, which has been beset by difficulties caused by American tariffs through the softwood lumber dispute, the pine beetle epidemic in British Columbia, catastrophic forest fires and reduced fibre supply because of past harvests.

As the largest producer in Canada, the federal government could give this sector a much-needed boost by using this cutting-edge technology at home. If passed, this bill would require the Department of Public Works to consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits when developing requirements for the construction, maintenance and repair of federal buildings.

In 2009, B.C. passed the Wood First Act, which aims to “facilitate a culture of wood by requiring the use of wood as the primary building material in all new provincially funded buildings”. In 2013, Quebec adopted the Wood Charter, which requires all builders working on projects financed in whole or in part by the provincial government to consider wood in their construction plans; it also requires project managers to prove that they have calculated the greenhouse gas emissions of wood versus other materials in the pre-project stage.

Different versions of this private member's bill were introduced in past Parliaments, and they were supported by the NDP. Early versions of the bill explicitly asked the minister to consider using wood. However, that text was amended in the 42nd Parliament to direct the minister to consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits instead; it may also allow the use of wood or any other thing, including a material, product or sustainable resource that achieves such benefits.

That bill, Bill C-354 passed in the House but died in the Senate at the end of that Parliament. It was introduced as a Senate bill in this Parliament. This version of the private member's bill is inspired by new developments in wood construction technology. Large buildings constructed with mass timber can be built quickly. They are also cost-competitive, and they meet fire safety requirements.

Advances in wood construction technology have demonstrated that large buildings and other infrastructures can be built with wood. Recently, the University of British Columbia constructed the Brock Commons student residence; it is the world's tallest wood building, at 18 storeys. Toronto's George Brown College is currently building Limberlost Place, a 10-storey mass timber structure, at its Waterfront Campus; this will be the first institutional building of its kind in Ontario.

In 2014, the Cree community of Mistissini, Quebec, opened the Mistissini Bridge, a 160-metre-long bridge with semicontinuous arches made of glue-laminated wood beams. It is one of the largest wooden structures in Canada, and it won two national awards at the 2016 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards.

Canadian companies lead the mass timber sector in North America, with production plants in B.C., Ontario and Quebec. Because wood has lower embodied carbon than most building materials do, this bill offers us the opportunity to support innovation in the forestry sector while, at the same time, helping the Government of Canada to meet its GHG emission reduction targets. This is especially the case in these difficult times, because the sector faces large duties from the U.S.

Given the developments in the technology, this idea is one that is being used more and more around the world. It makes sense to use this technology more at home. In budget 2017, the government provided Natural Resources Canada with $39.8 million over four years, starting in 2018-19, to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects.

Bringing this forward is our way to call on the government to continue to support this activity through government procurement. It is time for us to move forward. This bill has been around and through the block a number of times. I repeat, as I stated at the beginning of my speech, that if the Conservatives say they support moving forward with this bill, then they should show it with actions and stop the delaying tactics. Let us get on with it, get it done, support the industry and do what is good for the environment. That is the path forward.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 29th, 2023 / 11:05 a.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour, once again, to rise to speak to this small but mighty bill, Bill S-222. It would require the minister of public works and government services to consider the environmental benefits of building materials when building federal infrastructure.

This bill has come a long way to get to this point. Today, we begin third reading with a real chance of seeing this bill become law in the coming days. I am very encouraged by the unanimous support that Bill S-222 has received here in this House at second reading and in committee, where it was passed and returned here without amendment.

I would like to thank retired senator Diane Griffin for sponsoring this bill in the other place in this Parliament. It began its life as my private member's bill, Bill C-354, in the 42nd Parliament. It passed through the House in that Parliament but died an unfortunate and unnecessary death in the Senate. It was an innocent bystander of some other political manoeuvring. I will mention as well that an earlier version of this bill, one more specifically targeted at wood alone, was tabled by Gérard Asselin, a member of the Bloc Québécois, in 2010 as Bill C-429.

It has been a long and tortuous path to get to this place here today. I am really looking forward to seeing this bill become law at last.

One thing I have not mentioned in my previous speeches on this bill is the role that Natural Resources Canada officials played in helping move this bill forward in the 42nd Parliament. I want to mention in particular the efforts by Sandra Schwartz, who helped amend the bill and focus it on the environmental benefits of building materials.

I would like to concentrate my comments today on the testimony we heard at committee on Bill S-222.

One of the witnesses in the hearings was from the Quebec Forest Industry Council. They pointed out three ways that forest products can help decarbonize construction. The most obvious of these is the fact that long-lasting wood products store carbon that was taken out of the atmosphere as the trees were growing.

The second is that the new trees that replace the trees that were harvested continue to store carbon throughout their lives. This is a more complicated calculation that must take into account the full life-cycle analysis of harvest and production. The QFIC has asked that such life-cycle analyses be developed by the federal government. It is my understanding that those analyses are being developed. They have been developed for other building products but are being developed for wood products.

The third is the fact that forest products can help decarbonize construction because there is such a huge potential for growth in the use of these products. Only 5% of large buildings use wood as a primary component, so increasing that percentage would have an increasing beneficial effect.

Both the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs testified as well before committee. Firefighters are naturally concerned about the safety aspects of building construction in Canada, as they are the ones who literally put their lives on the line to fight fires within these buildings.

As building codes change to include new advances in mass timber construction, firefighters ask that their safety be an added objective in those new codes. I can add here the assurance from other committee testimony that mass timber construction has been shown to be as safe as or safer than standard concrete and steel structures after testing by the National Research Council and other agencies. Government officials pointed out that the procedures asked for by the bill are generally in place in government policy or are in the process of implementation, including the life-cycle analysis of environmental impacts of various building materials.

There is a real sense of urgency in the forest industry for any policy changes that would help that sector produce more jobs and create more wealth within our rural communities, all in the face of a reduced harvest. This bill would do that. By increasing the government procurement of mass timber products, it would increase the domestic markets for our lumber and create new jobs for turning that lumber into long-lasting mass timber beams and panels. We lead the North American mass timber industry, but it is still a small sector and needs careful attention or we will lose that lead very quickly.

Structurelam, the pioneer company in mass timber in North America, based in my hometown of Penticton, has recently been forced to restructure and sell its assets because of an unfortunate contract disagreement with Walmart. Hopefully, it will remain in Canada and regain its strength as the leading proponent of engineered wood on the continent. However, its story is a reminder that the sector is in a vulnerable position, still open to growing pains. A bill promoting government procurement could provide significant benefits at a critical juncture in the growth of the industry.

I spent much of last week in Washington, D.C., talking to American legislators about international trade between Canada and the United States. One of the big issues there obviously is the softwood lumber disagreement. The wonderful thing about mass timber is that not only is it beautiful and safe and not only does it create new jobs, but it can be exported to the United States without facing the illegal tariffs we have under softwood lumber. This bill would help create domestic markets so our mills that create two-by-fours and two-by-sixes will have more domestic markets, allowing them to grow and keep going in the face of this dispute, which has really harmed mills across the country.

I have to remind everyone that, while I and others have concentrated on wood products in this debate, the bill is open to any materials that provide environmental benefits. I met repeatedly with the cement industry and heard of its efforts to decarbonize the concrete that makes up so much of our infrastructure today. The cement industry believes it can be competitive with forest products in many cases in these full life-cycle analyses on environmental benefits. I commend those efforts and would simply say that this is what I hope to accomplish with this bill.

Buildings contribute up to 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions, and we must take all steps to reduce those emissions. Whether those reductions are achieved through the use of mass timber, new decarbonized concrete products or other sustainable products is not important. What is important is that we act quickly to change the way we construct buildings as part of our existential efforts to fight climate change.

Bill S-222 would be a step in that direction. I hope that today we will see continued support so that this bill can become law at last and create beautiful, safe and environmentally friendly buildings across this country, and support industry and mills across this country.

After unanimous support at second reading and at committee, we have the opportunity today to end debate and see this bill become law within a day or two. I hope that all other parties will allow debate to collapse so we can get to a vote quickly. I do not know why any party would want to prolong this process.

I thank everyone here for their support of Bill S-222 and look forward to a short and positive debate.

March 10th, 2023 / 10:10 a.m.
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Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

I'd simply like to remind Mr. Angus that, in 2017, his colleague Mr. Cannings introduced Bill C‑354, which used much the same language. I don't know if that would make him support this amendment, but I assume his colleague wanted the same thing that's being proposed today.

If it worked in 2017, I don't see why it wouldn't work today.

March 7th, 2023 / 3:45 p.m.
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Diane Griffin Retired Senator, As an Individual

Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Chair, to speak to this bill.

As my colleague noted, the bill is straightforward. It amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that, when the government is building or refurbishing publicly owned property, it consider using wood as a material and that the comparative carbon footprint of materials be considered.

I have seen first-hand that engineered wood can be used in the construction of buildings. Several years ago, our Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry travelled to British Columbia and we visited Brock Commons, which is an 18-storey building. It's a student residence at the University of British Columbia. It's a beautiful structure that demonstrates some of the best qualities of engineered wood buildings.

Engineered wood structures sequester carbon. The production of engineered wood beams is less intensive than that of concrete or steel, and the carbon within the wood is stored for the life of the building. Given that buildings account for such a large percentage of carbon emissions, adopting this technology more widely would help with our greenhouse gas emission targets.

Engineered wood structures can be erected quickly. Using a crew of nine people, the mass timber construction of Brock Commons was completed less than 70 days after the prefabricated components arrived on the site.

Also, as already noted, using wood products supports the Canadian forest industry. A healthy forest industry obviously means more jobs for workers in rural Canada. A further advantage is that wood is a renewable resource.

This is an area in which the federal government can lead the way. As the largest procurer in Canada, the federal government's use of engineered wood in even a handful of projects could begin to turn the tide. As architect Michael Green told this natural resources committee in 2017, “it's really, again, just an emotional shift that has to happen to embrace the science we already know.”

Other countries, including France, Finland and the Netherlands, have similar legislation in place. As already noted, in Canada, British Columbia and Quebec have legislation to support the construction of engineered wood buildings. In 2018, Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs announced that Alberta would allow wood building construction for up to 12 storeys. He noted, “Not only will this decision support the forestry industry and land developers, it will provide affordability to homebuyers, bolster employment, and give Alberta a competitive advantage.”

Engineered wood construction presents a huge opportunity for value-added forest growth for both domestic and international markets due to the amount of untapped potential in the forestry sector.

In closing, I also want to thank the New Brunswick senator, Honourable James Quinn, for taking over sponsorship of Bill S-222 after my retirement from the Senate. Again, I thank MP Richard Cannings for his sponsorship of the bill in the House of Commons. As he noted, he's had a long journey on this one, going back to when it was Bill C-354.

As well, thank you to the committee for your consideration of this bill.

March 7th, 2023 / 3:40 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's certainly an honour to be here before the natural resources committee, a committee that I spent six enjoyable years on previously.

I'm here to talk about Bill S-222. It's clearly a Senate bill, as we've heard, but it's essentially the same as my Bill C-354 of the 42nd Parliament, which passed through the House in 2018. Of course, I'd like to thank my friend Senator Diane Griffin for reviving this bill in the Senate in this Parliament, and to Senator Jim Quinn for carrying the torch after Diane retired.

Since it's such a short bill—one clause is really all there is to it—I will just read it. It amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act as follows:

(1.1) In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance and repair of public works, federal real property and federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieves such benefits.

That's it. I want to spend a couple of minutes explaining why I tabled this bill back in 2017 and persisted through to this day, to today, to get it passed.

First, it speaks specifically to the important role that buildings play in our carbon footprint as a country, as a society, and therefore the important role they must play in our efforts to significantly reduce that footprint. Buildings account for up to 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions. A significant part of those emissions is tied up in the materials we use to construct them.

Wood is an obvious candidate in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for the long term in buildings and other infrastructure. Indeed, the early forms of this bill from previous Parliaments—this goes back to 2009 with a Bloc Québécois bill—were specifically about promoting the use of wood. That name “use of wood” remains attached to this bill, but this bill was amended in the 42nd Parliament to broaden its impact by simply asking for an analysis of environmental benefits.

Second, the government procurement that could flow from this bill would provide support for the forest sector in Canada. I don't need to go into much detail about why the forest sector needs our support, but if we can develop new markets for our forest sector, particularly domestic markets but also internationally, I think we can maintain and grow our forest industries, creating jobs and wealth across the country.

Third, although it's not specifically mentioned in this bill, it's meant to promote engineered wood or mass timber construction. This innovative technology is taking hold in North America, with leading manufacturers being in Canada in both British Columbia and Quebec. These companies and others like them would greatly benefit from government procurement that would allow them to grow and maintain this leading position in the continental market.

There are other models of this bill out there. This is not a new idea. There are several pieces of legislation in provinces, notably British Columbia and Quebec, and in other countries, especially throughout Europe. France offers incentives for meeting embodied carbon and net-zero energy targets that plan to move from 5% wood buildings to 30% over the next 30 years. Other European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K., require or promote full life-cycle analysis and embodied carbon reporting.

Right now, only about 5% of our buildings use wood as the main structural component. The rest are built with concrete and steel. This bill would not exclude those sectors. The cement industry wants the government to look at infrastructure projects with the dual lens of a carbon footprint and overall lifetime cost. That's exactly what this bill asks.

I'll close by saying that this bill is about recognizing the big role that buildings have in our greenhouse gas emissions and about making sure that we take steps now to lock in emissions savings for the future. With wood playing an important part in these savings, we can create beautiful, safe buildings with a low-carbon footprint and support the forest industry across the country.

Thank you.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 6:15 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, it being Valentine's Day, I do want to send my love to my wife, Margaret, at home in Penticton. She texted me last week reminding me that it was our wedding anniversary, so I have some ground to make up when I get home next week.

I rise in reply to the debate on Bill S-222, a bill that comes to us from the Senate, but originated as my private member's bill, Bill C-354 in the 42nd Parliament, and has been mentioned before that. There was a version that was a Bloc Québécois bill earlier than that.

I would like to thank Senator Diane Griffin for introducing this bill in the other place and Senator Jim Quinn for carrying the torch after Senator Griffin retired last year.

This bill has been on a long journey to get here and it is gratifying to see the strong support it is getting from all sides of the House. I wanted to say I especially enjoyed the enthusiastic support that I was getting from the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert when he was unfortunately interrupted. I was enjoying that discourse.

This is truly a piece of legislation whose time and place has come. This is a bill that simply asks the minister of public works to consider the environmental benefits of building materials when creating federal infrastructure.

The built environment represents up to 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions, and one key component of those emissions, and the opportunity to reduce them, lies in the choice of building materials. Wood and especially the new technologies of creating mass timber or engineered wood are an excellent example.

Wood contains huge amounts of sequestered carbon. If it is harvested properly and sustainably, and used to create long-lasting building products, it can be a very valuable tool in our fight against climate change. I would like to acknowledge my colleague from Nunavut, who mentioned that this has to be developed and harvested considering the rights of indigenous peoples across the country.

I was inspired to bring this bill forward in 2016 by a company in my riding called Structurlam. Structurlam has been the leading manufacturer of mass timber in North America for many years. In Quebec, we have Chantiers Chibougamau, which has been leading that industry in eastern North America for the most part.

I see the member for Abbotsford is here and I have to mention StructureCraft, a company in his riding, that is producing similar materials. Just recently, we added another major supplier of mass timber with the Kalesnikoff family, who are building a very large modern facility in South Slocan in my riding.

These facilities are creating glulam timbers and cross-laminated timber panels that, in turn, are producing large, beautiful and safe buildings that are not only functional, but are also sequestering large amounts of carbon.

They are also providing relief for the Canadian forestry industry, which has been struggling through firestorms, beetle epidemics, illegal tariffs and a shrinking available harvest. With mass timber, we will have more jobs and added value for each tree we cut. We need to support this sector in Canada.

This bill does not exclude other building materials. The cement industry is developing new technologies that sequester carbon. The steel industry is developing new technologies that make steel production greener.

When the minister looks at the life-cycle analyses for each of these products, and those analyses are already being developed by the federal government, this bill would make sure that government procurement creates a significant environmental benefit.

Government procurement could also ensure that Canada remains a leader in the mass timber sector. It would allow new facilities to grow and prosper, creating jobs and providing a new domestic market for lumber in a time when our major trading partner to the south is doubling down on protectionism. Government procurement, guided by this small bill, could spur innovation in the cement and steel sectors.

I want to thank everyone who spoke to this bill. This bill would be a simple but significantly important step in our fight against climate change. We would also have beautiful buildings that would last generations.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 5:50 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, my apologies to the member for Abbotsford for getting a little off topic there, too.

My first experience in dealing with wood in a substantial way, which goes beyond the general framing of a house in Winnipeg, is when I had actually bought a home on Burrows Avenue. I went into the home. We had to replace some drywall. Instead of a concrete foundation, it was actually a wood foundation. It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I am somewhat familiar with the construction industry. I have family members who have been doing it for many years.

A thought that crosses my mind right away when I touch a wood foundation versus a concrete foundation is there is a far better insulation value. If one is from a city like Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary or Regina, out in the Prairies, insulation value is quite important. If members were to do a Google search, which I have, they would find, to the surprise of many, how skyscrapers are actually now being made. Someone made reference to a wooden structure of eight floors. In Wisconsin, there is a 25-storey timber building. In Canada, if we look at British Columbia, by UBC, I believe it is called the Brock Commons. It is an 18-storey complex.

More and more, we are seeing wood being used in these taller buildings. I believe it is a vastly underestimated potential for Canada's wood industry. Like others, I have had the chance to travel abroad. Often in the countries I have visited, we do not see wood being utilized as we would here in North America. I believe that it is speaks volumes to the potential markets out there if one could really get out there and communicate the advantages of wood over other products.

We have talked a great deal about the transition to a greener economy. When we think of that greener economy, a big part of it is within the construction industry itself. As we see our wood industry grow at least in part, recognizing the potential of that growth and talking about it would add even that much more value to it.

This is not the first time that we have had this type of legislation come to the floor of the House of Commons. Some have already made reference to, I believe, Bill C-354, which went through a while ago, passing in the House of Commons. It was the election in 2019 that killed the bill because it did not quite get through the Senate. It bodes well, in terms of where we are today, talking about Bill S-222. Within that legislation, given the very nature of the fact that it is originating from the Senate, and we have seen the wide support from a previous House, where members on all sides saw the value of supporting it, I suspect that Bill S-222 would in fact be able to pass the House, and ultimately receive royal assent. That is a very strong positive.

As I said, there is nothing new, from a government perspective, in dealing with the environment and having a greener transition, because I think it fits what we have been talking about. We have seen a number of legislative and budgetary measures to support a greener economy.

I am thinking of those magnificent timbers, beams, one-by-threes for sidings, two-by-fours and, nowadays, two-by-sixes that are being used in many of the construction codes for exterior walls, for example. We have seen far more opportunities in recent years. As building codes continue to evolve and give more strength, I believe we will see that the demand for wood will continue to increase.

At the end of the day we do want to see a reduction in greenhouse emissions, and the bill would support that in principle, because of the product itself, a product that is renewable. Someone made reference to the province of B.C., where one tree comes down and three are planted in its place. We have a commitment to plant two billion trees, coming from our government. Many of those trees are going to be planted within our cities to provide beautiful plush green canopies over our municipalities, cities and communities, but a good number of trees we see that are planted today are there so that we can ensure that we can continue to harvest.

We have heard a great deal about British Columbia, and we do not want to give the impression that it is the only place where there is an industry of that nature, because one could easily talk about hardwoods and others that go from Ontario to Quebec and a couple of the Atlantic provinces, where there is very much a healthy industry, and that is not to say my own home province of Manitoba does not have great potential in the development in that industry.

I think that, in looking at the bill, we see sustainable forest management. We see a government that is committed to greening federal buildings, whether it is by retrofitting, building new or just completing repairs, and what the legislation would do is allow the minister to recommend wood usage, not necessarily compel it, but recommend it.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11 a.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved that Bill S-222, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy and proud to rise in the House this morning to begin debate on a bill from the other place, Bill S-222. This is a small but mighty bill that would create beautiful, safe federal buildings, support our forestry sector during difficult times, spur innovation in the cement and steel industries and help us reach our climate targets.

What would this bill do? It simply states that when building federal infrastructure, the Minister of Public Works “shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.”

I mentioned the bill came from the Senate, but, in fact, this bill started its life in the House of Commons, first as a Bloc bill more than a decade ago. I took up the bill in the 42nd Parliament where, as Bill C-354, it passed in the House of Commons, but died in the Senate when that Parliament ended.

I would like to take a moment to thank my friend, Senator Diane Griffin. Senator Griffin guided the bill through the Senate in 2018 and 2019 and when the bill stalled there, through no fault of her own, she reintroduced the bill in the 43rd Parliament. As many here remember, that Parliament ended prematurely due to an election, so Senator Griffin introduced it once again last year in this Parliament. It is through her persistence that we are seeing it again.

Senator Griffin retired last spring, so she passed the torch to Senator Jim Quinn, who saw it through its passage in the Senate earlier this fall.

The initial form of the bill over a decade ago was a direct ask of the minister to consider wood in the construction of federal infrastructure. It was modelled on the Charte du bois in Quebec and the wood-first bill in British Columbia. It was designed then to ensure that the federal government actually considered wood when building large infrastructure. Until recently, the construction industry had been totally geared to cement and steel when doing that.

My version of the bill was amended in committee to remove the overt preference for wood and replace that with preference for materials that had environmental benefits, in particular regarding the greenhouse gas footprints of the building materials. This amendment allayed a couple of concerns around the trade implications of potentially favouring one sector over another and also recognized the emerging work on making concrete and steel more environmentally friendly. I will speak more on that later.

I was initially inspired to take up this bill in 2016 because of a company in my riding, in my home town of Penticton. That company is Structurlam, and it has been at the leading edge of mass timber engineered wood construction in North America.

While Structurlam leads that sector, it still faces some of the hurdles that confront all innovative companies. It needs help to scale-up its production, and the easiest way for a government to help a company in that situation is to provide business through government procurement. That is one of the core benefits of this bill. It would help Canadian companies scale-up to maintain our dominant position in the engineered wood sector in North America.

Forest products, with their sequestered carbon, are obvious candidates for decisions under this policy. If we can use more wood in government infrastructure and grow the mass timber market in Canada, it will obviously benefit the forest sector overall.

These are benefits to a forest industry beset by challenges on all sides. Beetle infestations, catastrophic wildfires and a long history of harvests have all reduced access to fibre. To top it off, the softwood lumber dispute has brought illegal tariffs from our biggest trading partner, the United States.

Reduced fibre access means we have to get more jobs and more money for every log we cut, and that is what mass timber provides.

To make glulam beams or cross-laminated timber panels, mass timber plants use lumber sourced from local mills. That gives those mills a new domestic market for their products and it reduces their reliance on the United States. On top of that, we can sell those mass timber products to the United States tariff-free, so it is a win-win.

Just to reiterate, the bill and a rejuvenated domestic market for lumber would not mean increased forest harvest, as that is limited by other factors, but it will mean getting more value added out of the trees we do cut. There are benefits to using mass timber, benefits for the construction industry and benefits for the users of that infrastructure.

First, I will mention the construction process itself. Engineered wood is produced indoors in plant facilities. The building can be literally constructed indoors with no weather delays or complications, while the site is being prepared for construction. Then the building components can be put together quickly and delivered to the site exactly when needed.

Brock Commons, an 18-storey residence complex at the University of British Columbia, the tallest wood building in the world, was built in 57 days, two storeys per week. It is now home to over 400 UBC students. Because the component parts are built indoors, they can be constructed to very fine tolerances, within millimetres, and that means a lot when one is constructing the buildings of the future that will have to be built to passive energy specifications.

The buildings constructed in this way are beautiful. The exposed wood components are like furniture. Structurlam has an entire finishing plant devoted to smoothing and treating every exposed beam and wall panel as if it were a piece of massive furniture.

It is not surprising many of the early examples of mass timber construction were civic buildings meant to look good as well as be functional, buildings such as the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Olympic speed skating oval in Richmond, B.C. and the Rocky Ridge recreation centre in Calgary. The Rocky Ridge facility has over 2,000 glulam beams forming its huge roof, and no two are the same.

I would like to also mention that Canada leads the way in engineered wood construction in North America. Structurlam has projects all across the continent and has recently opened up a branch plant in Arkansas. Nordic Structures in Chibougamau, Quebec was another pioneer of this technology.

Another major mass timber plant has recently opened in my riding just outside Castlegar. It was opened up by Kalesnikoff Lumber. I would like to give a shout-out to Ken Kalesnikoff and his son Chris and daughter Krystle for making this major investment that will pay off for the future of the West Kootenay and the forest sector in British Columbia.

One issue that often comes up when talking about tall wood buildings is fire safety. I hear from firefighters who just simply do not like the concept of wood buildings of any size. We heard testimony of that nature in both House of Commons and Senate committees. However, I need to reiterate that large infrastructure projects under this legislation would be constructed with mass timber. Firefighters I talked to are concerned about buildings constructed with traditional wood frame construction such as two-by-fours and two-by-sixes.

Mass timber is another thing entirely. When we have glulam beams a metre thick or cross laminated timber panels nine inches thick, those materials react to open flame in a completely different way. They simply slowly char instead of bursting into flame. Think of trying to light a log on fire with a match.

The National Research Council has conducted fire safety trials with mass timber and has found it is just as safe, or safer, than traditional concrete or steel construction.

More detailed studies are under way, including those at the University of British Columbia with Felix Wiesner. Dr. Wiesner has found, perhaps not surprisingly, that thicker components, say panels made with five layers of lumber versus those made with three layers, burn more slowly and that the type of adhesive that binds those layers also has an impact.

Suffice it to say, large buildings made with mass timber provide both occupants and firefighters ample time to exit the building in case of a fire and, as I said earlier, are just as safe or safer than traditionally designed buildings.

I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the other materials that might compete successfully in the government's analysis of environmental benefit. We have been hearing a lot about green steel production, and there are new cement products that sequester carbon dioxide to reduce some of that material's carbon footprint.

When I first put forward this bill, I heard concerns from the cement industry that the direct mention of wood might be unfair to the cement sector, which has made impressive advances in sustainability over the past few years. Those concerns were largely met by the amendments that were made in the committee in the 42nd Parliament and carried through to this version of the bill. I just talked to the cement industry last week, and it is supportive. It pointed out it is working with the federal government to provide data for life-cycle analysis of greenhouse gas footprints of building materials.

These analyses will be critical to the use of the legislation before us, as it will provide decision-makers with all the details they need. We will need similar full life-cycle data for steel and wood products, of course.

In recent conversations I have had with members of all parties around Bill S-222, I am heartened by the support I am hearing. Members of all parties know that this is the right way forward; that this bill will set us in the right direction when it comes to meeting our climate targets; that this bill will support the forest industry, a sector that has been beset with challenges from all sides in recent years; and that this bill will not discriminate against other building material sectors, such as cement and steel, that are working hard to innovate new solutions to make their products truly sustainable.

I hope that every member here will support Bill S-222 at second reading. I look forward to discussing it at committee to ensure that it will truly have the beneficial impacts that it promises. With this legislation in place, we can literally build a better Canada.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActRoutine Proceedings

October 7th, 2022 / 12:10 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved that Bill S-222, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the first time.

Madam Speaker, I am very proud today to rise to introduce Bill S-222, which has come to us from the other place. I thank the member for North Island—Powell River for being my seconder.

This is a small but mighty bill that asks the government to consider using environmentally friendly materials such as wood when building government infrastructure. It was my private member's bill, Bill C-354, in the 42nd Parliament, when it passed through the House of Commons but unfortunately died in the Senate when that Parliament ended. I look forward to seeing this bill pass through the House once again and finally become law.

I want to thank Senator Diane Griffin, who has championed the cause of this bill in the Senate over the past five or six years, and also Senator Jim Quinn, who took up that cause after Senator Griffin's retirement this spring.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Forest IndustryStatements By Members

March 19th, 2019 / 2 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, the forest industry in B.C. has had some tough years recently. Beetles and forest fires have reduced the timber supply, so we must create more jobs for every tree we cut.

There was some good news out of British Columbia last week.

First, Kalesnikoff Lumber announced that it is building a mass timber plant in my riding at South Slocan, to create cross-laminated timber panels and glulam beams. These components are at the centre of a revolution in how the world is constructing buildings. Canada is leading the pack in North America in this technology, with companies like Structurlam in Okanagan Falls and now Kalesnikoff joining those leaders.

Second, the B.C. government announced changes to its provincial building code, allowing beautiful and safe mass timber buildings to be constructed up to 12 storeys.

Along with those in my private member's bill, Bill C-354, these changes encourage the use of environmentally friendly materials in building federal government infrastructure, and will help keep the forest industry healthy.

November 22nd, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Kootenay—Columbia, NDP

Wayne Stetski

All right.

Turning to forestry, my colleague Richard Cannings from South Okanagan—West Kootenay has a bill before the Senate as well, Bill C-354 on the use of wood. It's asking government to do an analysis of the carbon footprints of structural materials. His initial emphasis, of course, was wood and supporting the various mills in our ridings. To what extent could increasing the use of wood products in construction help reduce the use of more carbon-intensive materials?

The House resumed from May 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the third time and passed.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking once again the members of the natural resources committee for their collegial work on Bill C-354, and the parliamentary secretary of natural resources and the parliamentary secretary of public works and government services for their co-operative approach.

I would also like to give a shout-out to Structurlam in Penticton. This company was really the inspiration of this bill for me. It, and very few other companies, stands at the forefront of the new way that we will be constructing buildings and other infrastructure in the future.

Engineered wood, mass timber construction, glulam beams, and cross-laminated timber panels will all soon be known as one of the commonest and best ways to create large buildings in the world, and Canada is a world leader in this technology. We are at a place now where government procurement can play a critical role in growing Canadian companies that use this technology, and Bill C-354 can encourage that role.

I would like to remind members that this bill was amended in committee to deal with some of the concerns raised in the second reading debate. I am especially thinking of the Conservatives here who, in this debate on third reading, seem to be debating the old version of the bill in which there was clear wording for “preference” and things like that. All of those issues have been cleared up with the amendment that we brought forward in committee.

Earlier, some were concerned that a preference for wood in infrastructure would expose us to international trade disputes or that it would distort the market, making it harder for the cement and steel industries to compete for government infrastructure. That is gone from this bill. This bill, as amended, deals with those concerns while keeping references to the environmental benefits of various structural materials. There is no mention of a preference for any structural material in the new bill. In fact, it simply sets out that:

the Minister shall consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.

We naturally heard strong support for the bill from the forest industry when studying the bill in committee. We also heard from the cement and steel industries, and both testified that they were confident they could meet those environmental considerations in the full life-cycle analysis. We also heard from the National Research Council that large buildings made with engineered wood are as safe as steel and concrete buildings when it comes to fire safety.

This bill will support the forest and construction industries and keep them at the head of their sectors as the world moves toward a new way of building.

We all know that the forest industry is facing headwinds in the form of unfair tariffs and a declining fibre supply. Engineered wood can support the industry in the face of these challenges, allowing Canadian wood to be sold into the U.S. without softwood tariffs, and the value-added benefits will create more good jobs for every piece of lumber that we produce. It will promote the construction of beautiful, environmentally friendly, and safe buildings.

In closing, I would like to once again thank all of those who have supported this bill as it moved through the House, and I urge all members to support it once again when it comes to a vote.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pride to rise today in support of Bill C-354, proposed by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.

I am pretty sure there are a few mountains in that part of Canada, and because I made a promise to a childhood friend, which I could not keep, I do want to congratulate Cassie Sharpe, who won a gold medal as a freestyle skier, whose aunt I went to school with in Winnipeg. I said I would say hi, and I could not find her. She was mobbed by everyone. I congratulate her.

Back to the bill, it is a bill that makes so much sense on so many levels. Besides being one of the most well-liked members in the House, my colleague is also a renowned natural historian, and the author of a dozen award-winning books on the natural history of British Columbia. The member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay was also named Biologist of the Year in 1996, and has served on the board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and worked with Bird Studies Canada coordinating surveys on the status of bird populations.

Anyone can see that the member's credentials are both impressive and credible. It is therefore not surprising that his private member's bill would propose and promote the use of a renewable resource, which we have in abundance, while at the same time, reduce our carbon footprint.

At a time in our planet's evolution when climate change is wreaking havoc on communities across the globe, while governments are struggling to meet their emissions targets and to make the shift towards more sustainable industries, this bill is a common-sense solution that will help Canada do more and do better to meet our own emissions reduction goals.

Canada is and always has been a land of forests. Around the world, we are renowned for our natural beauty and our natural resources. One can hardly find a picture of Canada without seeing majestic forests, except, of course, when looking at a beautiful picture of the Prairies.

The bounty from our forests has supported for centuries the first peoples of this land, the earliest settlers. It has helped build towns, and turned them into cities. It has built our railroads, and telegraph and telephone poles, and so much more, to connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Our forests have given us so much. They have allowed us to be a world leader in pulp and paper production, spurring development in northern and rural communities, providing jobs and livelihoods for generations of Canadians, and the raw material for the publishing industry for decades. Through it all, our forests continue to provide for us a way to commune with nature, to marvel at the magnificence and the diversity of life that we have been blessed with.

Bill C-354 simply proposes that the Government of Canada give consideration to the use of wood products when building, maintaining, or repairing federally owned properties. Decisions as to which construction materials to use would take into account the costs of the different materials balanced with the greenhouse gas footprint of the materials. After this assessment, the government could decide whether it is best to use wood or other materials.

Testimony before the natural resources committee demonstrated that wood does not currently enjoy even so much as access to consideration in the market, but that similar policies in British Columbia and Quebec have led to the realization that the situation could be and should be corrected.

In fact, France, Finland, and the Netherlands, along with more than 50 municipalities in British Columbia, have brought in similar policies. Great advances have been made in tall wood construction, and it is now possible to construct large, safe wood buildings quickly and economically. Building with wood produces lower greenhouse gas emissions and sequesters more carbon than with other products, and so can help Canada reach our greenhouse gas emission targets under the Paris Agreement.

Innovations and emerging technologies, like those that allow and encourage environmentally responsible and sustainable construction, will ensure the future health of the forestry sector. As the largest procurer in Canada, the federal government can play a constructive role by using this cutting-edge technology right here at home. If we can continue to build our prosperity by using materials growing in our own backyard, so to speak, and by doing so reduce harmful emissions to ensure the health of our planet, why would we not?

I would like to end by thanking my colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, for his fine work, and by urging all members to support Bill C-354, which represents a win-win-win for the forestry sector, for Canada, and, of course, for our planet.