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

Sponsor

Richard Cannings  NDP

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

Status

Third reading (House), as of May 9, 2018

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Summary

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.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

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

May 9th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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NDP

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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NDP

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.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am incredibly proud to be here today speaking to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). I want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for working so hard on the bill. I appreciate that he understands the importance of the forestry sector in the economy and in terms of environmental sustainability.

The bill would require the Government of Canada to 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 cost of the different materials, balanced with the greenhouse gas footprint of the materials. After this assessment, the government could decide whether it was best to use wood or other materials.

The riding I represent has a long history in the forestry sector. We have moved through the boom and bust cycles and have become more environmentally sustainable and creative in the many uses of wood. The days of the many mill towns I used to represent have ended in our riding. We simply do not have the mills we used to. Secondary processing is happening in small community businesses.

Many people are frustrated as we watch raw logs floating on barges down the ocean. Once we processed them, and many of those good paying jobs stayed in our region. They are simply no longer there. The bill asks the government to recognize the many difficulties the forestry sector has faced over the past 20 years.

Great advances have been made in tall wood construction, and it is now possible to construct large, safe wood buildings. It can be done quickly and economically. When we build with wood products, we know that we lower GHG emissions and we sequester more carbon than we do with other products. This is important when we look at the GHG targets Canada has agreed to in the Paris Agreement.

The Government of Canada is the largest procurer in Canada. The federal government can give this sector a real boost by using this cutting-edge technology at home.

Forestry communities are largely small, rural, and often indigenous communities, like the many I represent. They work hard and know that forestry is key to their economic and social development. These communities have had to be incredibly flexible, and they have had to embrace massive changes very rapidly as the forestry industry has changed.

What I think is so important about the bill is that it means addressing the reality that wood does not currently enjoy even access to consideration in the market. Similar policies in British Columbia and Quebec have made real strides in correcting this trend. After over two decades of the Canadian forestry sector facing significant economic challenges, the response has been to come up with greater innovation and advances in technology that change and increase what can be done in building with wood. Here is the challenge, though: getting builders and those procuring building construction to consider wood as a structural material for part or all of these projects. That is why the bill is asking the federal government to take the lead in opening doors and opportunities for the forestry industry. This is very important to ridings like mine, which are still integrated with the forestry sector.

I believe David Foster, director of communications, Canadian Home Builders' Association, said it best:

We recently saw that with six-storey wood frame construction, which moved from a curiosity into something that is fully embraced by our industry. I know that there is huge interest in cross-laminated construction in particular. At every conference of our association that I go to, somebody is showing us amazing pictures of these buildings.

This is really important in the cycle from when an innovation is developed till when it is in full commercial application. From our point of view, that's a process of de-risking something, and often it takes partnerships. It takes government encouraging and facilitating that transfer.

It is so important that the government take a leadership role in de-risking in this area. We need to see these opportunities building. We know it is important for so many communities. This not about making wood more prominent than other areas. It is really about giving it an even playing field and allowing the sector to actually play in this way.

On May 16, I will be travelling to Port McNeill in my riding to celebrate the Inaugural Forestry Proud Day event. People from forestry companies, contractors, consultants, forestry educators, first nations, training organizers, local government, provincial government, and so many more will be there to celebrate the importance of this industry. It is a significant community event in our area.

Across my riding, be it the communities of Zeballos, Woss, Campbell River, Tahsis, Gold River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, and Powell River just to name a few, forestry has always been a part of the culture, the economy, and the community. It has had to change rapidly with the times.

I think of the program in Wass right now, a 12-week fundamentals in forestry program, with 12 students, that is going very well according to Pat English, manager of economic development for the Regional District of Mount Waddington. These programs are so incredibly important to small communities. They not only help retain young people in the community; they also help to attract young people to see the opportunities that are there. These programs really allow young people to stay in small communities where the industry is still alive.

It is so important that the government remember all sectors, that it remember that small communities are working hard every day to provide opportunities and maintain stability.

I am so happy to be here today to speak in support of the bill. It is time that we remember forestry communities and we provide those opportunities for them to move forward.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker,

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

I am very proud to be here to support this bill, Bill C-354, which is sponsored by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay. It is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and the use of wood. This bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that, in the awarding of certain contracts, preference be given to projects that promote the use of wood.

The purpose of the bill is to give preference to projects to promote the use of wood when awarding contracts for federal construction, maintenance, or repair projects, while taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The amendments to the bill align with the government's stated principles for procurement process and ensure compliance with Canada's free trade agreement. The amendments ask that the minister consider the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that may allow the use of wood or any other suitable material, product, or resource to achieve this benefit.

Two similar iterations of this bill have been previously defeated in the House. Bill C-429, introduced by Bloc Québécois in 2010, was defeated at report stage on December 15, 2010, and Bill C-574, introduced by Bloc Québécois MP Claude Patry in 2014, was defeated at second reading on December 3, 2014.

I am proud that our government has the following frameworks, policies, and programs in place that will promote sustainable construction, including significant investments to strategically support the forestry sector.

One of those is the forest bioeconomy framework. In September 2017, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers launched the framework to make Canada a global leader in the use of forest biomass for advanced bioproducts and innovative solutions. The framework focuses on creating green jobs, enhancing supply and demand, and supporting innovation in the forestry sector.

We have also put forward the green construction through wood, GCWood, program. In September 2017, the government announced the GCWood program to encourage greater use of wood in construction projects in Canada. We want to catalyze a broader awareness of, and domestic capacity for, innovative tall wood buildings, timber bridges, and low-rise commercial wood buildings. Building with wood offers many benefits, including GHG emission reductions and opportunities for greater economic growth.

Another program that our government has put forward is the assistance package for the forest industry. In June 2017, the government announced its continued support for the softwood lumber industry in the form of an $867-million assistance package for the forestry industry, workers, and communities impacted by recent tariffs imposed unfairly by the United States.

We also put forward the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This framework, adopted in 2016, is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, which I know all of us here in the House believe in.

The framework's actions, supported by announcements in budget 2017, would enable Canada to meet or even exceed its target to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This is important for our children, especially my children. Under the framework, our government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

These actions include collaboration among federal, provincial, and territorial governments to encourage the increased use of wood products in construction, including through updated building codes. Natural Resources Canada received $39.8 million over four years through budget 2017 to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects, to promote the use of wood in construction, and to create new markets for sustainable Canadian products.

We have also been leaders on this side of the House, compared to a former government, to put in place tools to assess environmental impacts. We have committed to assessing the environmental impacts of construction projects. Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to the use of industry-recognized assessment tools for high environmental performance. These tools would help the department make informed decisions to estimate the environmental impact of construction materials and their use in building projects.

Any amendment made to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act must be made in accordance with Canada's free trade agreements and abide by the government's procurement principles of fairness, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity.

We have heard there are people who are afraid this may cost jobs. While I agree that sometimes we may fear the future when change happens, what I saw when I used to live in Quebec City was beautiful projects that actually increased the number of jobs in the forestry industry. For instance, in Neufchâtel, a neighbourhood where I lived in Quebec City when I was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, a soccer complex was built for young people and adults. This complex was entirely built of wood, a gigantic structure with gigantic beams, which were very thick and very solid. Some said that we should not build with wood, but incredibly enough, the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, showed leadership. Quebec City even built its new coliseum, or what some have sometimes called the “ice cube”, using an awful lot of wood.

This is a Canadian product and it is something we have a lot of here in Canada. It allows us to create more jobs, because construction projects can perhaps be cheaper and so more people can build homes or large-scale structures that will be as structurally sound as any we might find made of steel or concrete.

I had the opportunity of attending the committee for government public works and listening to testimony surrounding this bill. I was surprised to hear support coming not only from people in the forestry industry but also in the engineering trades. People said that we can use this material and demonstrate in Canada that we can build with our wood and then perhaps create markets overseas to show the building codes are just as strong.

We can make sure we build jobs here in our country. It is important to build jobs in many of the rural areas where the forestry products, the primary resources, are found, because there are also indigenous people who would like to work. If we can use more of these resources in a sustainable manner, use things that are renewable, it will be better for Mother Nature, the earth, and all of us and our children in the long term.

I am very proud to be here to offer my support to the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his bill and his leadership on this issue. I am very proud of the work that goes on in Winnipeg and Manitoba in support of the forestry industry. I know all my colleagues from Manitoba are also very supportive of the forestry industry.

Tapwe akwa khitwam hi hi.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, as a member of Parliament proud to represent the fine forest base community at Nanaimo— Ladysmith, at the foundation of our community and still a driver of so many jobs in the region, I am very pleased to support the bill proposed by my friend and colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. The bill would create room in the public procurement process for building with wood, achieving climate change savings, and also local economy benefits of building more with wood.

On Vancouver Island, there are more than 100 small and medium value-added wood manufacturing businesses. There are 1,100 employees altogether on Vancouver Island, a major economic driver. This is borne out every year in reports by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance. We are very committed to forestry and to adding jobs at every opportunity we get. If we are going to cut the trees, we may as well create jobs and get more value-added benefits at home.

Specifically, in my community, since 1988, Coastland Wood Industries has been a value-added innovator. It is North America's number one manufacturer of plywood veneer and fence posts. After peeling the logs repeatedly to get the veneer off, what remains is a perfectly-sized fence post? Who knew that Nanaimo would have the number one manufacturer of fence posts in North America?

Coastland is an extremely strong and committed employer. The partnerships that Coastland has with the Snuneymuxw First Nation are a model for businesses across the country. They are working to employ and train Snuneymuxw youth and are very committed to their partnerships around land and being a good neighbour. They also have a firewood program to help Snuneymuxw elders, which is another example of value-added forestry. It is so encouraging.

Also, in our community, both TimberWest and Island Timberlands are major drivers of a lot of good community work. They are very important community partners. I look forward to getting out on the land with them this summer and looking at some of the marmot recovery projects they are helping to fund.

Western Forest Products is in Nanaimo and in Ladysmith. A lot of people go to work at these mills. They are milling red cedar, Douglas fir, hem-fir, yellow cedar, and Sitka spruce from a big region coming into the riding and adding that value.

A number of years ago, Harmac Pacific mill was purchased by its employees, and is now largely employee-owned. They are using residual wood waste from their pulp mill to generate renewable energy, enough to power 18,000 homes. It is at the heart of the economy, good unionized jobs and employee ownership as well. They are a real point of pride in our community.

Another really nice partnership on the value-added forestry side is the Vancouver Island University carpentry program. It has strong partnerships with Nanaimo CHBA and other local contractors, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 527. It also works really well with city of Nanaimo building officials.

My my favourite partnership is with Habitat for Humanity where Vancouver Island University carpentry students got their practicum or their credits. Instead of building a fake building that they frame, built up, and then torn down, they worked with Habitat for Humanity to build new affordable housing in Nanaimo, which was just opened a year or so ago. Those students did everything from framing, to the heavy equipment operators having cleared the site, and the interior decorators having finished off the homes. It was such a point of pride. I am grateful to VIU for helping the young carpentry students get invested from the very beginning in building affordable housing.

All of this value-added work and local expertise fits in with the intention of my colleague's legislation. The groundwork is very well prepared by municipal governments and by the provincial government in British Columbia.

In my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Ladysmith Town Council passed a resolution in December 2010, which said:

WHEREAS BC's forest industry has been and will continue to be an integral part of the economic, social and business life of the Town of Ladysmith;

AND WHEREAS the BC Government has passed a Wood First Act to facilitate a culture of wood by requiring use of wood as the primary material in all new provincially funded buildings, in a manner consistent with the British Columbia Building Code;

AND WHEREAS the Town Council of the Town of Ladysmith deems that building with wood is consistent with natural resource, economic, and social stability;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Ladysmith will continue to support the development of its wood culture by:

being a wood champion and supporting the BC government's Wood First Act by adopting this Wood First resolution;

ensuring that the performance of wood systems and products are considered whenever appropriate in all municipal buildings to maximize the achievement of Ladysmith's Civic Green Building Policy;

ensuring that all municipal infrastructure projects in Ladysmith receiving provincial or wood industry financial support employ the appropriate structural or architectural use of wood; and

ensuring that where possible, preference is given to the use of domestic wood products.

My colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay's legislation is the federal chapter of this work that has moved from local business, to local municipality, to our provincial government in British Columbia, and now into the federal realm to boost the use of wood in federally funded infrastructure projects and institutional buildings. There is so much support for this.

The Forest Products Association of Canada has estimated that a 100,000 square foot wood building would store 5,300 tonnes of CO2. It would also contribute 2,100 tonnes of avoided greenhouse gas emissions. This net carbon benefit in a single building is equal to taking 1,400 cars off the road for a year.

The Canadian Climate Forum has also lauded the use of the engineering innovations that have allowed us to build tall wood buildings. It says the potential exists to construct low-carbon emission skyscrapers using mass wood, large wood veneers and beams made from glued laminated wood veneer strands or timber.

There was a great presentation from the British Columbia Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. It has a whole bunch of ways it wants to see governments amend their forestry policies. It plugged very hard the benefits of storage of carbon in wood products. If we put our wood into paper, it does not last very long. If we put it into big laminated beams and then build it into our institutions, which will last for decades, we are benefiting local economy and jobs and also anchoring in climate change savings.

I support my colleague's bill. It would require the Government of Canada to consider using wood products when building, maintaining, or repairing federally owned buildings. Decisions as to which construction materials would be used would be based both on cost and on a climate calculation.

Although the technology is proven and we have good examples, the challenge today is getting builders and those procuring building materials to seriously consider wood as a structural material, not just a finishing material.

The bill, if passed by the House, and it looks like it will be, is to force the federal government to consider wood when building, to make an honest assessment of the potential materials and then build with what is best. As the largest procurer in Canada, the federal government could give this sector a real boost by using this cutting-edge technology at home.

The only concern I have heard is on the firefighting side, and I might be able to talk about that more in questions. I am certainly cognizant of what I have heard some firefighters in my community say, but I am confident from an engineering perspective and the reassurance we have been given at committee that we are in good hands.

I look forward to seeing the House move forward in a good way on the legislation.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House to oppose Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, use of wood.

I have always been a strong supporter of using wood in the construction of public buildings. As a former mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., I always pushed for the use of wood products in the development of new municipal buildings, and I was proud that my council supported similar actions.

For example, Fort St. John was one of the communities granted a Olympic legacy project by the British Columbia government. We decided to build what we called the Enerplex, which was completed in 2009, and was designed to reflect the community, create a lasting legacy, and continues to shape the city. It is a large recreational facility that promotes sport, community, and personal wellness, as well as provides an attractive venue for events.

Our council focused on building a facility that would have a low carbon footprint, and the city continues to take measures to improve the facility's environmental operations.

The Enerplex has exterior building panels that are rated very high in efficiency, the electrical motors were designed with energy conservation pony motors, and the entire facility employs a computerized building control to help control and minimize energy consumption. Everything was considered, right from the lights in the ceilings down to motion sensor sinks. The complex even has the ability to capture 75% of its waste heat, which is used to heat the domestic hot water and spectator areas.

To reflect our economy and the beautiful forests surrounding the Peace River region, we had wooden columns and arches added to the front of the building as a design feature. This was inspired, in part, by the Beijing Olympic facility where the Canadian teams were housed. British Columbian wood was used to highlight Canada's landscape and to honour our forestry industry. I have been there and it is a dramatic piece of design architecture.

We made sure Fort St. John's Enerplex was built with the best, cost-effective and efficient materials available to us in our specific region of Canada. Had we been located in southern Ontario, I am sure the design and materials used would have been very different.

Bill C-354 would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that in the awarding of certain federal contracts, preference will be given to projects that would promote the use of wood. Do we really need an act to mandate the use of wood in the construction, maintenance or repair of Public Services real property?

While I completely support the forest industry, there are a number of problems associated with the bill. It disregards the fact that there are large regional differences across Canada. What makes sense to use for building material in one region might be completely unviable in another. For example, I notice that there are far more houses built with brick in Ontario, yet when I fly back to Alberta, I see lumber used in our construction.

Bill C-354 would favour the economies of certain regions over others. It is a direct contravention of the mission of Public Services and Procurement Canada, which is to apply an open, fair, and transparent procurement process to obtain the best possible value for the government. It could result in job losses in the concrete and steel industries, which would be an economic substitution. There may not necessarily be new growth, but other sectors could lose contracts and be unable to continue working in the construction sector as concrete, stone or steel is discarded in favour of wood.

The provinces of British Columbia and Quebec have adopted “wood first” policies, British Columbia in 2012, and Quebec in 2013. I was glad to see that, as it made sense for those regions. Approximately, 40 Canadian communities, with strong economic ties to the forest industry, have also implemented their own “wood first” policies.

This decision must remain at the local and regional levels. When we apply this kind of sweeping mandate to the federal level, it pits regions against each other, as well as disrupts the National Building Code.

Speaking of the National Building Code, which is a model building code that forms the basis for all of our provincial building codes, it would certainly be impacted by the legislation. For most construction under federal jurisdiction, the National Building Code of Canada is the applicable code.

These properties include military bases, federal government land, and airport properties that stretch right across our country from coast to coast to coast. Bill C-354 does not take into consideration these far-reaching implications, and makes no attempt to identify or remedy them.

The bill also does not address any safety issues that might arise from giving preferential treatment to wood over other construction materials. Most wood building construction is limited to low to mid-size structures mainly for reasons of fire safety and overall stability.

As stated by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, this bill would “limit and undermine “the freedom of design professionals and experienced contractors to select the most appropriate construction material for its intended function and service”.

I strongly support our forestry industry, and I appreciate the enormous value it provides to the Canadian economy. In my own riding of Yellowhead, which is situated partly in the northern boreal forest of Alberta and into the Rocky Mountains, forestry is one of the leading economic sectors. It employs hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Hinton, Drayton Valley, Edson, and the surrounding areas. I continue to fight for action on the mountain pine beetle that is spreading across the Rocky Mountains and into Alberta destroying the forests along the way.

I am fully aware of the economic value of the forestry industry and the efforts necessary to protect this renewable resource. However, “wood first” policies should, again, be left up to regional governments to implement where it makes sense for them. The federal government should not be pitting one economic region against another. Instead, it is the duty of the federal government to ensure openness and fairness in its procurement policy approach to all industries.

Furthermore, Bill C-354 would contravene Canada's obligations under its international and domestic trade agreements, such as NAFTA, WTO, and the Agreement on Internal Trade. Favouring one sector of the construction industry over another with explicit ministerial preference runs counter to the free market economy and fair bidding processes supported by Conservatives.

Under the former Conservative government, investments were made to improve the environmental performance and competitiveness of Canada's forest industry by focusing on innovation and new product development to expand market opportunities for Canadian pulp and paper related products.

We also introduced the expanding market opportunities program in 2013, which was designed to help create a thriving forest sector by growing international markets; promoting Canadian forest products as an environmentally responsible choice; expanding wood use in North American non-residential and mid-rise construction; and by demonstrating that Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management and a preferred source of sustainable forest products. At the same time, we have always been fully supportive of the free market and fair federal project bidding processes.

We understand that policy interjections by the federal government to tip the scales in favour of any one industry can have damaging effects on other sectors of the economy. What has the Liberal government done? It let the softwood lumber agreement, which provided stability and predictability for industry on both sides of the border, expire in October 2015. Now our forestry companies continue to be harmed by U.S. countervailing duties on Canadian softwood products.

There are always ways the Liberals could step up to the plate and assist the forestry industry, but Bill C-354 is not one of them. The federal government should not mandate the use of wood over any other industry. This would be the same if the government wanted to mandate steel over wood.

We should leave it up to regional, provincial, and municipal governments to decide, rather than forcing an expensive and unnecessary regulatory review of each province's building codes, not to mention the potential legal challenges from non-wood construction sectors that would pile on additional government costs.

In closing, all things considered, I do not support Bill C-354, and I urge the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay to seriously re-evaluate the impacts this bill would have on Canada.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act regarding the use of wood, and to say that the government supports this bill as amended at committee.

I also want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing the bill.

The government supports this bill with the committee's amendments because it aligns well with the government's goals of supporting the Canadian forest industry and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These objectives must be consistent with the government's commitment to ensure a procurement process that is fair, open, and transparent for all suppliers.

The Standing Committee on Natural Resources passed an amendment that the government views as achieving this balance. That is why I call on all members of the House to support the bill as amended. Let me take this opportunity to explain the background of the amendment.

During debate at second reading, we had the opportunity to emphasize the importance of Canada's forestry industry. The forestry industry is one of the industries that built our country. As I said earlier, the industry contributes significantly to Canada today. Last year alone it accounted for $22 billion of Canada's gross domestic product.

The forestry industry puts food on the table for the families of more than 200,000 Canadians. This includes 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities, making the forestry industry one of the leading employers of indigenous people. That is why initiatives like Bill C-354, aimed at supporting the Canadian forestry industry, are deserving of the government's full attention.

The government is committed to fairness, openness, and transparency in the procurement process. These are fundamental values in the policies of Public Services and Procurement Canada.

In addition, witnesses raised some questions and concerns regarding our domestic and international trade obligations during the study of this bill at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, of which I am a member. I want to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for their thorough review and careful analysis of this bill. I also want to thank my colleague, the member for Markham—Thornhill, who also sits on that committee and who proposed an amendment to respond to the concerns and questions raised by witnesses during the study of the bill.

If I may, I would like to read the amendment in its entirety:

In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction of 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 achieve such benefits.

Ultimately, the committee accepted this amendment and referred it back to the House.

This is a very important amendment. It may help make this proposed legislation more effective and ensure this aspect of our support of Canada's forestry industry is on sound footing. It will also ensure fairness, openness, and transparency in federal procurement.

Our discussion today on Bill C-354 also gives us the opportunity to review the measures our government is taking to help Canada's forestry sector embrace innovation and continue to be a vital part of our communities and our economy. The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, for example, calls on all levels of government to encourage greater use of wood in construction.

Research is under way on how the National Building Code of Canada can be updated to allow the use of more wood in construction. The National Research Council and Natural Resources Canada are exploring innovative solutions and carrying out cutting-edge research and development on the potential use of wood in buildings of up to 12 storeys.

Currently there are 500 mid-rise wood buildings in Canada that are either completed, under construction, or at the planning stages because of code changes nationally and provincially. It is expected that this number will rise in the coming years as familiarity with the building code changes grows.

These efforts are the result of broad partnerships, including forestry sector research organizations, academia, industry associations such as the Canadian Wood Council, and federal and provincial governments. Collectively, partners have worked together on research, building codes, materials development, education, and outreach to create awareness and knowledge on wood construction. Our government is supporting this move to wood through innovative projects across the country and around the world.

The Brock Commons Tallwood House is both an engineering and architectural showpiece and an environmental game changer, storing close to 1,600 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 1,000 metric tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of removing 511 cars from the roads each year.

In eastern Canada, the government supported the construction of a 13-storey cross-laminated timber condominium building in Quebec City. The Origine project includes a 12-storey mass timber structure on a concrete podium.

Furthermore, I want to point out that wood and wood products are already essential components that meet the infrastructure needs of the Government of Canada. At Public Services and Procurement Canada alone, 15% of the $160 million for office maintenance is spent on wood and wood products.

Buildings produce 23% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The department is working on making government operations more sustainable, mainly by using sustainable materials, optimizing space, and reducing energy consumption at federal buildings. This is part of the government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

It is the first federal department to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio that takes into account all real property related greenhouse gas emissions and energy reduction initiatives the government has undertaken.

The energy services acquisitions program is a great example of one of these initiatives. The goal of this program is to modernize the heating and cooling system that serves about 80 buildings in Ottawa. This includes many of the buildings around Parliament Hill.

Through this program, we are also piloting and testing wood chips for use as a possible biomass fuel. The results will help determine the potential for using biomass fuels at other federal heating and cooling plants. The department will also meet sustainable performance standards such as leadership in energy and environmental design, commonly referred to as LEED, and Green Globes. These performance standards encourage the use of green products and materials with life-cycle impacts that are economically, socially, and environmentally preferable.

As amended, Bill C-354 would support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas effects, support the Canadian forestry industry, and ensure the integrity of our fair, open, and transparent procurement process. I would encourage my colleagues to support this bill, as amended.

The House resumed from April 25 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

April 25th, 2018 / 7:30 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise to support Bill C-354, which was introduced by my colleague from British Columbia.

I would like to begin by reminding my colleague from Louis-Hébert, that I think he is looking at the wrong version of the bill. Before it was amended in committee, the first draft of this bill indicated that preference should be given to construction projects that promote the use of wood. That is no longer the case because the experts who appeared before the committee said that the industry did not need a preferential approach. They simply asked that wood be considered as a possibility from the start, because that is not currently common practice in the construction industry.

After hearing from experts, amendments were made in committee, so now the bill favours a comparative approach rather than a preferential one. The bill is short and simple. The summary reads, and I quote:

...that the Minister may, in developing requirements for public works, allow the use of wood or any other thing that achieves environmental benefits.

This refers to the minister of Public Works. The clause simply states:

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

This responds to the questions and points raised by the Conservative member who spoke earlier. I think this can help him reconsider his position.

The wood industry has had enough challenges in recent years. Workers from several sectors of the wood industry in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia told us that the government should think about integrating wood in construction. Recent innovations and technologies have made wood a potentially very beneficial material. We want to reduce our carbon footprint, and, in the cycle of life, wood has a very small footprint compared to other materials, such as concrete or steel. Using wood could make it easier to achieve the targets the government set under the Paris Agreement. This would give an economic boost to workers in regions across the country.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

April 25th, 2018 / 7:20 p.m.
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Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate this evening on Bill C-354, an act whose spirit and intent are both commendable and easy to support. Indeed, the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay has proposed legislation that reflects our government's own efforts to support and grow Canada's forest sector, efforts that not only acknowledge the forest industry's long-standing importance to the Canadian economy and local communities but also recognize its equally bright future.

While Canada's forest sector has endured more than its fair share of challenges in recent times, from historic fires and devastating infestations to unwarranted duties and tariffs from our neighbours to the south, Canada's forest sector continues to reinvent and transform itself for this clean-growth century. In fact, Canada's forest industry stands out today as one of the most innovative parts of our Canadian economy.

The timing could not be better. The world is at a pivotal moment, a time when climate change is one of the greatest challenges our generation will face and a time when investing in clean technology is the new imperative for a low-carbon economy. Canada's forest industry is central to this.

The Minister of Natural Resources has even gone so far as to say that there is no global solution to climate change without the forest sector, and there is a very good reason for that. As we all learned in high school science classes, forests are our planet's lungs. They absorb vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it for decades, which makes the forest industry unique among our resource sectors and creates huge opportunities for wood and wood products and for the mostly rural and indigenous communities that produce them. That is why the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change includes commitments from senior levels of government to promote the greater use of wood in construction projects, including $39.8 million in federal funding over four years to support these efforts. That is why we have also joined with our provincial and territorial partners to endorse a forest bioeconomy framework, a comprehensive approach we have moved quickly to implement as we seek to make Canada a global leader in the use of sustainable biomass to transform our economy.

The challenges of a changing climate also represent an unprecedented opportunity for the forest sector, and our government is doing its part. Here are some quick examples.

Last fall, our government launched the clean growth program, with $155 million for clean-growth technology development and demonstration projects. Importantly, one of the program's five priority areas is advanced materials and bioproducts. The clean growth program will help to accelerate their adoption.

Then there is the green construction through wood program that funds demonstration projects to increase the use of engineered wood in non-traditional construction projects, such as tall buildings, low-rise commercial buildings, and bridges. The program also supports the necessary research that will allow tall buildings as part of the next cycle of the National Building Code of Canada, through collaboration with the National Research Council. This is critical, because previous building code changes have already had an impact on the adoption of wood in construction. In fact, there are currently close to 500 mid-rise wood buildings across Canada that are either completed, under construction, or at the planning stage because of code changes nationally and provincially. This number is also expected to increase significantly in the coming years as familiarity with the building code changes and grows.

These efforts are the result of broad partnerships including forest sector research organizations, academia, industry associations such as the Canadian Wood Council, federal and provincial governments collectively, and municipalities.

We have worked together on research, building codes, material development, education, and outreach to create awareness and knowledge on wood construction. Our government is supporting this move to wood through innovative projects across the country and around the world. At the University of British Columbia, for example, federal funding helped build a new 18-storey student residence that now stands as the tallest hybrid wood building in the world. The magnificent Brock Commons tall wood structure is not only an engineering and architectural showpiece; it is an environmental game changer, storing close to 1,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 1,000 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of removing 511 cars from the road each and every year.

On the other side of the country, we supported the construction of the 13-storey cross-laminated timber condominium building in Quebec City. The Origine project includes a 12-storey mass timber structure on a concrete podium.

As well, we have been taking Canadian ingenuity to the world. There is no better example of that than the new Sino-Canadian low-carbon ecodistrict project in Tianjin, China. It is a $2.5 billion project showcase of Canadian know-how and Canadian lumber to create a sustainable community covering almost two square kilometres.

The first phase of this ecodistrict features 100 wood-framed townhouses incorporating Canadian energy efficiency technologies, which is not just creating new markets but new demand for Canadian wood products. Once completed, the eco-district will serve as a demonstration of how green building materials and technologies can help China realize its goal of ensuring that 50% of new buildings meet green housing standards by 2020. The Minister of Natural Resources was in China last June to renew a memorandum of understanding to maintain the momentum this project has generated and enhance Canada's support for green building in China.

As these examples illustrate, the forest sector can continue to play a central role in many of the most important issues of our time, leading environmental performance, driving clean growth and innovation, and advancing indigenous partnerships, turning climate action into a competitive advantage.

These were the motivations and goals behind Bill C-354. We should all support the bill from the member opposite, at least in principle. However, we just cannot put it into practice without some crucial amendments.

As others have pointed out in the House and at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the bill, with the way it was previously worded, was problematic. It raised questions around fairness in procurement. It also had the potential of running contrary to Canada's trade obligations, both at home and abroad. While these concerns are important, they are not impossible to overcome. In fact, I believe that the amendment proposed by the member for Markham—Thornhill and passed by the Committee on Natural Resources resolves this concern quite nicely.

Let me remind the House of the wording of the amendment. It reads:

(1.1) In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, 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.

This amendment would support the Canadian forest sector. It would support other sectors and suppliers. It would ensure fairness, openness, and transparency in the federal procurement process. The bill, as amended, would create good jobs, a stronger economy, and shared prosperity for generations to come. I encourage all members to support this bill as it has been amended.

The hon. member brought forward Bill C-354 with passion and vigour on the subject, and I thank him for it. He spoke vigorously about it in committee and convinced us all that this was a worthwhile venture and something we should all be proud of as members of Parliament. It is something all Canadians can be proud of.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

April 25th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to help close the debate on Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). I also want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for putting forward this legislation. When I joined the natural resources committee just after Christmas, we were in the midst of a study on wood, and of course, it was well timed for his bill to come forward.

Let me be clear. The Government of Canada fully agrees with the spirit and intent of the member's proposed legislation. The proposed legislation aligns well with the government's goals of supporting the Canadian forest industry, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, these goals must be balanced with the government's commitment to a fair, open, and transparent procurement process for all suppliers.

I believe that the amendment to this bill that was passed by the Standing Committee on Natural Resources achieves the balance that we seek. That is why I am encouraging all members to support the bill with our amendment. Let me take this opportunity to explain a little further.

At second reading stage, we had occasion to highlight the importance of Canada's forestry industry. Our forestry industry helped build Canada, and it still makes a significant contribution today. Last year alone, it added $22 billion to our GDP. Forestry plays a leading role in the local economies of the more than 170 rural towns where sawmills, pulp and paper mills and other forestry operations can be found. The industry employs more than 200,000 Canadians and also represents 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities, making it one of the largest employers of indigenous people. This is why initiatives to support Canada's forestry industry like those in Bill C-354 deserve our careful attention.

That said, we were concerned that the bill as originally presented by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay would contradict certain long-standing Government of Canada principles, policies, and obligations and lead to perhaps some unintended consequences. As a point of reference, the proposed bill had stated that the minister “shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”.

The government is committed to fairness, openness, and transparency in the procurement process. These fundamental values of the policies of Public Services and Procurement Canada cannot be deviated from. Although Canadians expect their government to support a sector as important as forestry, they also expect the government to adhere to the basic principle of fairness in its procurement.

Depending on how the legislation is interpreted and enforced, it may well violate Canada's obligations under important trade agreements, such as the Canadian free trade agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Contract spinoffs have the potential to be significant, particularly in a sector that relies so heavily on access to export markets, mainly the U.S.

The Standing Committee on Natural Resources reviewed the bill. I would like to thank my fellow members of that committee as well as the parliamentary secretary for the careful review of the proposed legislation. In fact, we heard many of the same considerations that I have just reiterated.

I am delighted that my colleague, the member for Markham—Thornhill, who sits with me on the committee proposed an amendment so that the legislation would read:

In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, 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.

Ultimately, the committee accepted this amendment and referred the bill back to the House. I believe that the amendment is very important and will help make this legislation more effective and ensure that our shared goal of supporting Canada's forest industry is on a sound footing.

Our discussion on Bill C-354 today also provides us the opportunity to reflect on steps the government is taking to help the forestry sector to embrace innovation and continue to be a vital part of our communities and our economy.

For example, the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change promotes federal, provincial, and territorial co-operation in order to encourage the greater use of wood in construction. Building codes will be updated to reflect that.

This will be encouraged in part by work that is under way to investigate the updating of the National Building Code of Canada. Currently, Natural Resources Canada and the National Research Council are conducting innovative research and development with a goal of updating our National Building Code to allow for wood buildings up to 12 storeys. Moreover, wood and wood products are important contributors to the Government of Canada's infrastructure needs.

Public Services and Procurement Canada policy requires contractors to propose materials that meet the needs of a project, including sustainability and performance criteria, and that conform to the National Building Code of Canada.

In fact, Public Services and Procurement Canada alone is spending approximately $160 million a year on average for office fit-ups and interior finishes, of which approximately 15% is directly related to the use of wood products.

I would also like to highlight the important work of Public Services and Procurement Canada in supporting the government's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The department is making government operations more sustainable through green building practices, including the use of sustainable materials, the move toward optimizing our space usage, and lowering the energy consumption of our federal buildings.

Buildings are a significant source of greenhouse gases and contribute 23% of Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions. As we know, the government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal buildings and fleets by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

As providers of accommodation to the Government of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada is in a unique position to have a direct and significant impact on the greening of government operations. It is the first federal department to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio plan that takes into account all real property-related greenhouse gas emissions and energy reduction initiatives that the government has undertaken to reduce greenhouse gases.

Take for example the investment we have made in the energy services acquisition program, through which we are modernizing the heating and cooling system that serves about 80 buildings in Ottawa, including many of the buildings on and around Parliament Hill.

In advance of this modernization effort, we are piloting and testing wood chips for use as a possible biomass fuel. The results of this pilot project will help determine the potential for expanding this option to other federal heating and cooling plants.

Similarly, Public Services and Procurement Canada continues to take an integrated and holistic approach to project design and construction, which includes the use of a variety of sustainable materials, such as wood, while giving environmental, social, and economic factors due consideration.

Its goal is to meet sustainable performance standards, such as leadership in energy and environmental design, commonly referred as LEED, and Green Globes. These performance standards encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available, and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts. Projects involving Government of Canada buildings in Quebec City and Yellowknife are the latest ones to meet those standards.

In closing, Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue to lead the way in embedding environmental considerations, and specifically greenhouse gas reductions, into the design and approval stages of its proposed projects.

Bill C-354, as amended, will also support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support our forestry sector. At the same time, it will support our commitment to an open, fair, and transparent procurement process. In short, the Government of Canada is committed to leaving to future generations of Canadians a sustainable, prosperous country. I would encourage all my colleagues to support this initiative.

I would also like to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his work in helping to craft important amendments to his original legislation that both preserve the original spirit and help further our government's plan to help support the forestry sector and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

April 25th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise again with some pride to speak to my Bill C-354.

I would first like to thank the members of the natural resources standing committee for their co-operation in the review of this bill. I have seen how a lot of committees work in this place, I have sat in on quite a number of them, and of all of them, the natural resources committee seems to get the job done with good humour and respect. I thank the chair and the members for that atmosphere of collegiality.

I would also like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement who worked with me in good faith on this file. I trust that support will continue as the bill continues through Parliament to become law.

I will start with a little refresher on what the bill is all about. Its full title is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, use of wood. As the title suggests, it deals with the use of wood in government infrastructure projects. At its heart, it is meant to promote the use of wood in those projects, much as the British Columbia Wood First Act and the Quebec Charte du bois.

The bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, specifically adding a clause after clause 7.1, the clause that sets out some of the minister's powers and responsibilities.

After careful study in natural resources committee, the additional clause specified in Bill C-354 was amended to read as follows:

In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, 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.

This amendment effectively deals with many of the concerns some had with the first version of the bill around exposure to foreign trade actions and to concerns that the bill picked winners and losers, favouring wood over other materials such as concrete and steel. I personally did not believe the first version of the bill had those concerns, but I am happy this amendment has effectively dealt with that.

I would like to turn now to some of the testimony we heard in committee about the bill. I will start with comments from the forest industry, and I will first go to comments from Derek Nighbor, who is with the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Before committee, Mr. Nighbor stated in part:

We support fully and expect that thorough life-cycle assessments will and should rule the day when it comes to the evaluation of materials in procurement decision-making....I think the profile that he's given...about ensuring that wood is thought about early in the process, to us is the spirit of the bill. That's why we would support it.

Michael Giroux of the Canadian Wood Council, in discussions around national building codes and public works purchasing practices, said:

At the end, the solution is to update those practices to make them product neutral and greenhouse gas savvy or, as Bill C-354 suggests, to force Public Works, through an act or policy, to consider wood use with that carbon metric. In this way, the federal government can catch up to B.C.'s Wood First Act or Quebec's Charte du bois...Often it is asked whether Bill C-354 picks sides. Really, this is a Public Works real properties act or policy and in the end, should wood not be treated or considered equally? It is a structural material much like concrete or steel and should be considered equally.

The spirit of this bill causes that to happen. Our experience with the private sector is that builders love a third choice. If nothing else, it forces everybody to sharpen their pencils and you get better value for your investments. That's a terrific acknowledgement right there.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the models for the bill is the B.C. Wood First Act. In committee, I asked Michael Loseth, who is the president of Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd., about how that legislation had changed the use of wood in British Columbia. He said, in part:

In my experience in British Columbia, there were a number of unintended impediments that we identified after the Wood First Act was put into place [and] I can give you an example....The Ministry of Education started to look at what building products were being used in B.C. schools. They found there was a lot of concrete and brick and steel and such, so they started to ask the question, why aren't we seeing more wood buildings?...Building codes allow for the vast majority of school types, and the size and shape and what have you, but it wasn't happening. It wasn't until the ministry was forced to go back and really start to peel it back that they identified their costing models and the project planning systems that they had with the individual school districts were all developed and based on building a concrete school.

I will stop quoting there and say, in parenthesis, that one of the schools I went to in Penticton when I was a kid, Princess Margaret junior high, was torn down and rebuilt recently. It is a very brutal concrete building, and I can see where that might have come from.

I will get back to what Mr. Loseth said. He stated:

When those school districts went through the process and provided all the required information back to the Ministry of Education, of course, more often than not they fell back to the concrete buildings, which was how the system had all been designed and set up. It wasn't until they started to change that and opened it up to be far more product-agnostic, and to look at wood to see where wood was being unnecessarily excluded from the process, that it changed.

Now we're starting to see a far better balance. Not every school in British Columbia is 100% built with wood, but there are more that are being built with wood, and those unintended impediments that existed in the system are being dealt with.

I now will go on to the Quebec experience with la Charte du bois. Mr. Gérald Beaulieu, from the Quebec Forest Industry Council, spoke about the benefits that had flowed from that policy. This is some of Mr. Beaulieu's testimony. He stated:

The Wood Charter states that, in every project financed by public funds, the project manager must consider the possibility of using wood. It does not say that wood must be used, but that it must be considered as a building material. A few days ago, Minister Blanchette confirmed that more than 54% of the 188 projects identified had incorporated wood in the final design....

The provisions in the bill foresee the implementation of life cycle analyses into procurement policies, and that is analyses that consider the environmental costs of different materials throughout the entire process. Therefore, for wood materials, we would consider, for instance, the carbon footprint through harvesting, transportation, construction, as well as the carbon storage in the built infrastructure. These life-cycle analyses are already done in many situations around the world.

Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is one of the agencies that worked on those analyses. Jennifer O'Connor, the president of that company, testified:

You'd want to be sure you had a robust, fair, and transparent system for doing the accounting, with stakeholder buy-in for credibility and acceptance....The point I'd like to make is that all materials have impact....They're all critical to construction. What is more interesting to us is how we encourage improvements across all those sectors, so that...overall have an improvement and a reduction in environmental impacts....The focus would be on what is the performance target. When we have performance-based objectives, we set the target and we allow ourselves to find our own way there.

Therefore, the target in the case of the bill would be the considerations for greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental benefits.

Adam Auer of the Cement Association of Canada stated:

...the Canadian cement industry unequivocally supports the notion that federal procurement of infrastructure, whether direct or indirect through investment transfers to other levels of government, can and should influence construction markets toward low-carbon and climate-resilient design. We also agree with, and in fact have consistently championed, the use of life-cycle tools as the best tools, although not yet perfected, for advancing sustainability in the built environment.

There are persistent concerns about fire safety when people talk about large wood buildings, but we heard evidence from the National Research Council and others that these concerns are unfounded. NRC has tested fire performance in mass timber buildings and has found that these structures can remain sound for hours and are as safe as or safer than traditional concrete and steel buildings in that regard. The walls char quickly in a fire, and then the fire self-extinguishes. The structure remains sound for three hours or more and there is no appreciable smoke in stairwells, and therefore there is more than adequate time not only for people to exit the building but also for fire crews to fight the fire from within.

I will conclude by saying that I continue to visit mills and plants that use wood from our forests. I recently visited the Structurlam plant in Okanagan Falls once again to hear their plans for expansion. As many have heard, if they have ever listened to me speak about this bill or other things, Structurlam is one of the leading companies in North America in the production and design of engineered wood buildings using glulam beams and cross-laminated timber. It is a real leader in this field in North America and it is one of the reasons I brought forward this bill to champion the leading Canadian companies in North America.

Another example would be Chantiers Chibougamau in Quebec, which does a lot of the same sort of production.

These companies would allow the forest industry to develop another market for their lumber products. Structurlam is considering an expansion. We would have more jobs. More good jobs, well-paying jobs, would be created in Canada.

As Mr. Beaulieu testified, “A cubic metre of wood in a plant's yard is worth about $69, but when it is converted into structural products installed in a building, such as cross-laminated timber, it is worth more than $2,200....”

Our forest sector is facing some challenges, and this is a positive way we can help that sector. A new market could offset losses from protectionist tariffs in the United States, and the value-added mills would ensure that we could create more jobs with a wood supply that is becoming more constrained under the stresses of climate change.

I think Bill C-354 is a win-win for Canada, giving us beautiful infrastructure that fights climate change while supporting the forest industry, one of the natural resource sectors that has been at the heart of Canadian prosperity for more than 150 years.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Natural ResourcesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 16th, 2018 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

James Maloney Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in relation to Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment.

I would like to thank the committee members, the clerks, and the analysts for working so hard to make this happen, and in particular the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing the bill and being so accommodating with the committee members.

March 22nd, 2018 / 9:05 a.m.
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Director, Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois (CECOBOIS), Quebec Forest Industry Council

Gérald Beaulieu

Good morning, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk to members of the committee about Bill C-354. I will speak on behalf of the Quebec Forest Industry Council.

I run the program of the Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois (Cecobois) in Quebec. This organization was born in 2007 out of the Government of Quebec's desire to diversify Quebec's forestry economy. The rest of the country was experiencing the same problems.

As you know, in 2007, Canada's forest industry faced an unprecedented economic crisis. To maintain jobs in the regions, the government set up a consultation process on the diversification of the forest industry. Soon, the non-residential construction market emerged.

Let me explain. When I talk about non-residential construction, I'm referring to everything other than single-family homes, where 99% of the wood is used. The single-family housing market is experiencing a sharp decline, in favour of the multi-family housing sector. Wood may become an increasingly important material in non-residential sectors. So I mean institutional construction projects, such as schools, the commercial sector and multi-family housing.

Cecobois' mandate is to provide technical services and communication tools to architects and engineers to help them integrate wood in construction. It must also be noted that Canadian universities do not teach the use of wood as a building material. We do a lot of work to get professors to offer those courses, so that students in civil engineering or architecture can have training on all materials that can be used in construction, such as concrete and steel but also wood.

Cecobois has been around for 10 years. We have become involved with students, professors and professionals to help them, which has significantly helped increase the wood market in Quebec. Every two years, we will see the progress made in this market. In 2001, wood was used in non-residential construction about 15% of the time. A recent study published in September 2017 demonstrates that, in 2016, the wood market share in that sector had reached 28%. The figure was confirmed by a survey of engineers and architects.

According to the same survey, 40% of engineers and architects said that they intended to use wood for the main structure of the buildings they wanted to build. There is still a lot of work to be done to amend the code, although some amendments have already been made. We know that the process is very long. People in the forest industry, Cecobois and the Canadian Wood Council do not want to cut corners. We want to make sure that changes to the code will be based on technical and scientific data. Regulatory authorities, whether Canadian or provincial, must take action to ensure that wood is recognized as a building material.

Earlier, I mentioned the transformation of the market in terms of the use of wood. In 2001, single-family home construction accounted for over 60% of the Canadian housing market. The market has changed a great deal. Today, 73% of construction in the housing sector is multi-family dwellings. We must diversify our designs and use different types of materials to reduce the environmental footprint of those buildings. They significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which the federal government and other governments are committed to reducing.

Wood has a number of advantages. By using wood, we reduce the environmental footprint of buildings and we store carbon. This is recognized by a number of international agencies. As early as 2007, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that the forest sector in general could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, when they are stored by trees during their growth or when they are sequestered throughout the life of the building.

I am going to follow up on Ms. O'Connor's comments on the life cycle analysis.

A number of those studies show that wood sequesters more carbon than other materials, and even has a positive carbon footprint. To this end, let me refer to a study that compares beams made of different materials, but able to support the same load, so having the same mechanical strength in use. One cubic metre of wood emits 60 kilograms of carbon, compared to 345 kilograms for the same volume of concrete and 252 kilograms for steel. You calculate the ratio, but it is clearly established. These are studies by internationally recognized third parties.

Furthermore, wood has very positive effects on people's health, which has been demonstrated in several international studies. I am talking about a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, and also a marked decrease in the recovery period. In the workplace, wood, which is a natural element, promotes creativity. In schools, it stimulates concentration and attention, while decreasing the aggressiveness of the occupants. Those effects are very appealing.

To explain why we are in favour of a form of wood charter at the federal level, I would like to talk about what has been done in Quebec.

In 2015, the Government of Quebec recognized the Wood Charter as a political commitment, which raised the awareness of government stakeholders and brought them together to reflect on the increased use of wood in public buildings. It seems that this had a major impact on what happened next.

The Wood Charter states that, in every project financed by public funds, the project manager must consider the possibility of using wood. It does not say that wood must be used, but that it must be considered as a building material. A few days ago, Minister Blanchette confirmed that more than 54% of the 188 projects identified had incorporated wood in the final design, which is very interesting. Furthermore, 75% of those projects used wood for the structure, and the others used it as a material for cosmetic purposes.

Why promote wood in Quebec and Canada? It is a local resource that helps create jobs along the entire value chain in rural communities in all provinces. In addition, many entrepreneurs have taken up the challenge of designing new products to help designers create high performance buildings with a reduced environmental footprint.

We say yes to Bill C-354, which we think seeks to be a policy to use wood. This bill recognizes the benefits of wood for economic development, but also its positive effects, especially on the quality of life of the occupants. It also addresses Canadians' need for greater use of wood. The bill builds on what is already being done in several provinces, including Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. I also know that Nova Scotia is considering a similar program.

In response to the remarks by Ms. O'Connor and the representatives from the Cement Association of Canada, I would like to point out that we must promote wood, but not under any conditions.

We must quickly improve the normative environment so that the choice of materials is guided more by their carbon footprint, energy efficiency and embodied energy for the life of a building.

At the same time, it is important to promote the adoption of green technologies and solutions. Your government is very committed to that. We are talking about buildings with an environmental footprint that is much more carbon-efficient. You are involved in the construction of high-rise buildings; we must demonstrate that wood can be an effective and efficient material.

Furthermore, the appearance wood market, architectural woodwork, employs tens of thousands of people in Canada. It is a popular market for architects and engineers who want to use those materials. For us, this is a very attractive area in which we want to continue to design new products.

Wood represents a very good opportunity for regional economic development. Let me give you some significant figures. A cubic metre of wood in a plant's yard is worth about $69, but when it is converted into structural products installed in a building, such as cross-laminated timber, it is worth more than $2,200. By increasing the value of wood from $69 to $2,200, wealth is created in all regions of Quebec and all along the value chain, in addition to reducing the environmental footprint of buildings.

That brings me to the end of my presentation.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.