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


Report stage (House), as of March 20, 2023

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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 permit the Minister, in developing requirements for public works, to 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.


Feb. 15, 2023 Passed 2nd reading of Bill S-222, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)

March 7th, 2023 / 3:55 p.m.
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Retired Senator, As an Individual

Diane Griffin

You're right that softwood lumber has been quite an issue over the years, as we know.

My experience is primarily from the maritime provinces. I'm from Prince Edward Island. In the maritime provinces this type of a bill, Bill S-222, would really benefit us, because we haven't had the same kinds of issues in the Maritimes as perhaps the rest of Canada has had with softwood lumber. I see this as being entirely beneficial in that respect.

Thank you for the question.

March 7th, 2023 / 3:50 p.m.
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Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for welcoming me to the committee. It's an honour to be here.

Senator Griffin, thank you for being with us.

Mr. Cannings, it's not every day that we have a fellow member of Parliament from British Columbia here as a witness. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to meet with you and ask you a couple of questions about an industry that is so important to British Columbia—our forestry industry.

You said in a speech that you gave in the House introducing Bill S-222 to Parliament that this bill is modelled on the Wood First Act in British Columbia. I'd like to zero in on that a little bit. That might be a good model for us to see what impact Bill S-222 might have on the Canadian economy.

What difference did the Wood First Act of British Columbia make in British Columbia's forestry industry?

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.

March 7th, 2023 / 3:40 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal John Aldag

Good afternoon, everyone. I call this meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number 55 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources. Pursuant to the order of reference made Wednesday, February 15, 2023, the committee is meeting on Bill S-222, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act regarding the use of wood.

Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of June 23, 2022. I'd like to remind everyone that screenshots are no longer permitted when we're in session. There are a few quick things. I think we have lots of old hands and experienced people online with us.

Welcome, retired former senator and Mr. Angus. If you need to speak, use the “raise hand” function, and I'll ask anybody online to mute yourself, or unmute yourself, as necessary. Comments should be addressed through the chair. We'll use our handy card system. You'll have five minutes. When your time is up, I'll give a 30-second warning, and the red card is for time's up.

We're going to start with some opening statements from the sponsors of the bill. We have Richard Cannings, member of Parliament, who is the House sponsor, and Hon. Diane Griffin, retired senator, as the Senate sponsor.

We're going to take the first hour to go through with our first panel, and then we'll switch and have Natural Resources and Public Services and Procurement Canada for the second hour. At the end, I need to save a bit of time for a study budget and a quick question on committee travel, so that'll be the business for today.

With that, we'll go to Richard.

If you're ready to give your five-minute opening statement, I'll turn the floor over to you.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2023 / 3:45 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill S-222 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from February 14 consideration of the motion 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.

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 / 6:10 p.m.
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Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I will begin my speech by wishing my wife a happy Valentine's Day. As usual, we are debating an important bill. We never waste any time. We always do constructive things and get results in the House. Unfortunately, I am obligated to stay here and I cannot be with my wife, so I want to wish her a happy Valentine's Day.

It is the busiest time of day here in the House, a great time to speak because there are always so many people, so that is nice.

I used to work in theatre, where there is an unwritten rule. Obviously, I am not talking about Broadway, where the theatres are always full. I am talking about Montreal theatre. The unwritten rule is that there must always be more people in the audience than on stage. Otherwise, the show is cancelled. I can say that I once had to cancel a show when there were only two actors on stage, which might give my colleagues an idea of the situation. That time, it was a complete flop.

Obviously, I am pleased to speak to this subject because last week I rose to speak to the Conservative motion, which has come back today. It is always interesting with the Conservatives. They do one thing and then repeat the same thing the following week. The motion was on the carbon tax and I had the opportunity to say that it was not a good idea to cancel the carbon tax.

In Quebec, we have solutions and wood is part of the solution. Wood is very important. It is an integral part of our culture. It is omnipresent in our economy, in our recreation, in our concern for the environment, in our culture and even in our language. In Quebec, we talk about forest capital. It is important. We create infrastructure to be able to leverage the benefits of this forest and we work very hard for that.

My colleague was saying earlier that there are no trees in his riding. There are trees in Quebec. That is not a problem. The forest sector is even a big part of our conversations, because in Quebec we say that we heat with wood and eat Yule logs. It is important.

There is a Quebec expression that I do not know how my friends, the interpreters, are going to translate: “Swing la bacaisse dans l'fond de la boîte à bois”, or swing your logs into the wood bin, which actually means leave your work behind and join the party. The forest is very important in Quebec. We even say that we walk in the woods. I do not know if this translates well in English, but when children resemble their parents, we say that the fruit does not fall far from the tree.

There is another important aspect. The first Quebeckers discovered this continent and travelled around it. What is the U.S. Midwest today was actually discovered by Quebeckers, the “coureurs de bois”.

Let us get back to Bill S-222.

The Bloc Québécois has long been committed to promoting the forestry sector and to upgrading forestry products. We have long been proposing that the federal government use its procurement policy to support the lumber industry, a key sector for Quebec. For years, we have been requesting that the Quebec forestry sector, and not just the oil industry, get its fair share of federal investments. Last year, the Liberals gave $8.5 billion in direct and indirect aid to the oil industry. That is completely outrageous. The UN said it was time to put an end to fossil fuel investments, and the Liberals invest $8.5 billion. That is more than the Conservatives invested back in the day.

We also believe that federal support should start with a public procurement policy that promotes the use of wood products. This industry needs to be promoted rather than the focus always going to the Ontario auto industry or the Alberta oil and gas industry.

The use of wood in construction is on the rise, and wood is recognized for its contribution to fighting climate change. The choice of wood as a construction material is significant. It is a local, sustainable and renewable resource. A life-cycle assessment of wood shows it has an exceptional environmental performance.

Quebec already has a strategy. We already have a national lumber strategy and a policy for integrating wood into construction. Now it is up to the Government of Canada to contribute.

In September 2020, the Bloc Québécois presented its green recovery plan, in which we talked a lot about wood. In April 2021, the Bloc Québécois even organized a forum in Trois-Rivières under the theme “forests and climate change”. That is important. Later, the Bloc Québécois announced a vast study on the economic and environmental optimization of the forestry sector.

That is important. We even made eight proposals to the federal government. We are not always criticizing. We have constructive proposals to maximize the potential of Quebec's forests. The Bloc Québécois has even proposed a road map—

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 6 p.m.
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Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour to rise to debate important legislation in the House.

I hope, Madam Speaker, that you will give me a bit of latitude to start my intervention with an acknowledgement that it is Valentine's Day. I am not sure if she is watching, but to Danielle, I say that I love her and wish her a very happy Valentine's Day. Although we cannot be together in person, I so much appreciate her partnership, all the work that she does and what we are able to do as a family. I love my sweetheart. With that, I will get back to the subject at hand.

The topic of wood builds is certainly an interesting conversation, and one might ask how this prairie member of Parliament is speaking to it. Speaking of my wife, one of the things she commented on when she first came to visit me on my family farm shortly after we got together was that there was a lack of trees. Especially compared to northern Saskatchewan, where she heralds from, there were very, very few trees in the area. However, it is certainly an interesting subject of conversation, when we look at the architecture and the advancement that has taken place in the space of what wood builds can mean for both architecture and city planning and also for the benefit of the environment.

Bill S-222 is intended to help level the playing field in procurement where traditionally wood construction would not have been a feasible part of the typical procurement process. Bill S-222 acknowledges an evolution that has taken place in the building codes and in a type of engineered construction. In fact, an architect or even a home builder would not even call them “wood builds”. They would be called engineered builds because a significant amount of work goes into creating the products, wood-based in most cases, that go into these new buildings.

Therefore, what Bill S-222 endeavours to accomplish is to simply level the playing field. Certainly as Conservatives, we look forward to those. When going through the procurement process, one would pick the best, most cost effective and environmentally friendly procurement option. In this case, when it comes to the construction of public buildings, one wants to ensure that the procurement process is followed and that it is giving the best value to taxpayers. However, to include wood in the process is, I would suggest, a positive step in the right direction, which could very well provide that significant value to taxpayers.

Let me provide a couple of examples. Many people will look at the architecture that one associates with the Lower Mainland in B.C. I happened to go to university in Langley, B.C., at Trinity Western University. It is interesting, as I follow back to some of the developments that took place.

The City of Vancouver is now allowing up to 40-storey construction projects using engineered wood building. Previously, it was limited to 20 storeys, so that is a significant advancement compared to what was allowed before. We have seen the technology allowing for this, especially in a place like Vancouver, where they have to take into account seismic activity, high moisture levels and the various associated challenges that are involved with building in the Lower Mainland in what is essentially a rainforest. We are seeing that tremendous opportunity exists, and not only can it be good for the environment but it can also be very cost-effective. One of the potential benefits of wood construction is that it can be fast.

I would like to highlight my alma mater. A new dormitory was required, and it was built via wood frame construction in nine months to house a few hundred students. This new building, a modern facility to house students, was built in nine months using wood frame construction, which is something that simply would not be possible using more traditional methods.

This speaks to some of the incredible technologies being advanced in this space that allow for this conversation to take place. If we were to ask most engineers, they would share that many years ago, this would not have been possible in an engineering sense. The risk would have been too great to have a building built out of wood that went beyond what traditionally would have been a five-, six- or maybe 10-storey building. However, because of the advancements in technology, we have seen approval for a building of up to 40 storeys. It is a natural evolution of our technology and engineering capacity to allow public procurement and the construction of publicly owned buildings by the federal government to include wood construction as an option.

When it comes to the idea of using natural products, I will conclude my remarks by mentioning one of the bits of history associated with natural products being used for construction. It is the idea of sod houses. Many in this place will know about my affinity for the history of the area I represent, the history of the lands where my family has farmed for five generations. I think it is probably the most beautiful part of the country. There are beautiful prairies-scapes, coulees and wide open skies, and incredible geography, geology and history associated with that, from indigenous history to that of some of the early pioneers who set up in what was a very inhospitable place.

I would draw everyone's attention to one of the earliest examples of using natural products to build houses, and that is sod houses. For those who may not be aware, when early settlers came here and the west was opening up to pioneers, many who came from various parts of the world came to a place where there were no trees. They were poor farmers, workers and labourers who in many cases had escaped some very difficult circumstances. They were left with very limited supplies to build a home.

There are some examples of this. In fact, not far from where I farm, there is a pothole in the ground where there was a sod home. We can see a bit of what is left there. It speaks to some of the incredible history of the Prairies and how those who pioneered the way make up our country's history. In many cases, they learned from the indigenous folks who preceded them. There are incredible stories about the architecture of sod houses built more than a century ago, and now we are discussing in Canada's Parliament the use of natural products, engineered wood products, for public construction.

I appreciate the opportunity to engage in debate on this bill. I encourage members to look into the history associated with sod houses and the neat little anecdotes it speaks to. It is a neat part of who we are as Canadians.

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

February 14th, 2023 / 5:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill S-222 this afternoon. I think what would come as a surprise to a good number of people is the degree to which wood is being utilized as a building component, especially for people—

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 5:45 p.m.
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Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, I rise for the last time today, on national Have a Heart Day.

Before I begin, I wish safe travels to all of the delegates who attended the Northern Lights trade show here in Ottawa last week. It is an important event that promotes the great work that Nunavummiut are doing to support Canada’s economy. It is a great event to showcase the beauty and talent that artisans from the NWT, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut have.

I extend my congratulations to all the participants and winners of the Arctic Winter Games in Woodland, Alberta. I have heard great stories of triumph, heartache and celebration. I thank the volunteers who have devoted their time to the success of youth to achieve their best in such events.

I thank my NDP colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for sponsoring Bill S-222 in this place. It is a step in the right direction to help eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The government has the responsibility to do its part. We must all do our part to reduce emissions. We must all do our part to protect the environment. This bill, while short, has important implications. There must be a fine balance between keeping forests and reducing reliance on harmful materials.

Over the last 20 years, I have driven back and forth between Ottawa and New Brunswick to visit family. I have noticed major changes over those 20 years. Roads have improved. Communities have grown, and forests of trees have been decimated. Although I know that I cannot live in remote wooded areas for long periods of time, I know how important trees are. I know that we must find solutions to replacing harmful products, such as plastics and other materials known to accelerate climate change.

As Canadian businesses and organizations are shifting to more sustainable practices, this bill helps to ensure that the federal government will work toward those concerns. We are often asked to stretch the limits of our knowledge to learn about important issues that constituents are concerned about. In this speech, I stretch my limits in attempting to understand how mainstream society consumes resources.

The aim of this bill is to allow the federal government to use wood for improvements to infrastructure. By using wood in the repair and building of federal infrastructure projects, Canadian businesses can be better supported. In 2013, production in the forest sector contributed $19.8 billion, or 1.25% to Canada’s real gross domestic product. With the decline of the forestry industry in recent years, there is an opportunity to revitalize this sector while protecting the environment.

In my riding, although we are not manufacturing wood, families rely on wood for homes, heating and other projects. We rely very much on the import of wood from our neighbours to the south. I use this seat to make sure that concerns are brought forward, my constituents' questions are answered and their needs are met.

As the critic to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, my job is to amplify the voices and the concerns that indigenous peoples have. I meet with indigenous communities, chiefs, elders and advocates who are asking the government to listen and take meaningful action to repair the damage it has done. This is important work, but the government must also stretch itself. It needs to be putting in the hard work to make sure Canadians are heard and this is acted upon.

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. We are calling on the government to make good on its promises and be true to its word.

This is important, especially in the context of the federal government’s relationship with the indigenous peoples of Canada. The government has promised to protect indigenous people's lands, consult with indigenous communities and work toward reconciliation. Too often, this does not occur. The government must take the issues being raised by Canadians more seriously. The government has promised greener solutions to address climate change.

All too often, I have watched the government break promises it has made to indigenous peoples and to Canadians. All too often, the government has taken minimal or incremental steps that improve the lives of indigenous peoples. The Liberal government has said that there is no relationship more important than that with indigenous peoples. Protecting and upholding indigenous people's rights is a responsibility of the government.

The bill is silent on this important matter. How will indigenous people's rights be respected? How will this amendment increase tenure for first nations communities? How will first nations management be guaranteed?

It is my hope that amendments will be made to acknowledge that Canada is founded on indigenous people's lands, and provisions must account for that. As Canada continues to work toward a better future, indigenous people must be heard and their land rights must be upheld.

Indigenous governance and management must be included. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be included. No development of any kind should exclude the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 5:35 p.m.
See context


Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, on this Valentine's Day, I would like to celebrate a little event. My precious daughter, Sarah, who already has one son with my son-in-law, Simon, is pregnant. I just found out it is a girl, and I am so happy. Congratulations to them. They are an amazing couple.

Also, on this Valentine's Day, as I am destined not to spend my evening in better company, I will declare my love for forests, a priceless resource for all Quebeckers and Canadians to enjoy and benefit from.

The title of Bill S‑222 is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. This bill is about the use of wood, and it is sponsored by former senator Diane F. Griffin of PEI. It went through first reading in the Senate on November 24, 2021, and is now at second reading in the House. It amends section 7 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by adding the following after subsection 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.

In short, Bill S-222 encourages the federal government to support the forestry industry in reducing its carbon footprint. As a tireless advocate for the Quebec forestry industry, the Bloc Québécois will obviously be voting in favour of this bill.

In fact, the Bloc Québécois has proposed similar legislative measures in the past, although ours may have had more teeth. That was the case in 2010 with Bill C-429, sponsored by the former member for Manicouagan, Gérard Asselin. It was also the case in 2014 with Bill C-574, which was introduced by the member for Jonquière—Alma, Claude Patry. Unfortunately, each time, the Conservatives and the NDP voted down these bills.

If Quebec were a country—it is a nation, but a country in the making—our 900,000 square kilometres of forest would rank us sixth in the world in terms of total forested area. Economically, Quebec's forests represent 57,000 jobs, $12 billion in exports and a contribution of $6 billion per year to Quebec's GDP. Underestimating this wealth would obviously be a huge mistake.

With the decline of pulp and paper, modernizing the wood industry is obviously important and it is becoming increasingly so. The federal government has a huge opportunity right now to contribute to the revitalization of secondary and tertiary processing sectors in so-called weakened communities.

By secondary and tertiary processing, I am referring in particular to woodworking products and mass timber construction. Some of the world's leaders in the design and manufacture of wood buildings are located in Quebec. Chantiers Chibougamau and its Nordic Structures division come to mind. Although these businesses still do work in Quebec and Canada, their order books are largely filled by U.S. customers.

The Canadian government must stop dragging its feet. It needs to start encouraging the wood building industry in residential construction here.

On another note, I would remind the House that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has recommended increasing the use of wood in non-residential construction in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help fight climate change.

Wood products can easily replace synthetic materials from the petrochemical industry that have a huge carbon footprint. Transforming wood is a more energy-efficient process that lowers emissions by one tonne of carbon dioxide per cubic metre of wood.

Once processed, wood remains a living material. On average, every single cubic metre of wood captures an additional tonne of carbon dioxide. For example, a building constructed using 80 cubic metres of wood can store 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide during its lifetime, which is equivalent to the emissions released by driving a car for a decade. Imagine the savings for an entire building stock.

The forestry sector is probably the industry that is best positioned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture carbon already in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, between 2017 and 2020, Canada's oil and gas sector received $23 billion in taxpayer subsidies. For the same period, Canada's forestry sector received only $952 million. I would also like to point out that, at their last convention, the Liberals rejected a resolution calling for an end to public funding for fossil fuels. That is pretty weak.

Luckily, the Bloc Québécois will continue to fight for a dynamic forestry sector that focuses on preserving biodiversity, encourages innovation and diversification, and generates wealth.

In this regard, I would like to congratulate my friends and colleagues from Jonquière and Lac-Saint-Jean for their exemplary work on this file. Since 2019, they have undertaken numerous initiatives to bring together all the stakeholders and propose meaningful solutions.

In 2021, the Bloc Québécois developed a four-part road map to maximize forests' potential. First, the federal government could “implement a public procurement policy that would encourage the use of wood products, including establishing the carbon footprint as a criterion for awarding contracts”.

Second, the Bloc Québécois recommends “increasing budgets for basic research and to develop a value chain for the secondary and tertiary transformation of forest resources”.

Third, we suggest protecting exports of lumber from Quebec to the United States, our principal trading partner.

Fourth, we want to find ways to boost productivity tied to annual growth.

That is why my colleagues and I will vote in favour of Bill S‑222.

On this day, February 14, my wish is for the government to show the forestry sector a little love, to help keep jobs in our regions and to fight climate change. It has to stop ignoring that and instead be part of the solution.

Happy St. Valentine's day to everyone.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 5:20 p.m.
See context


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to speak on Bill S-222, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, use of wood.

I thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his sponsorship of this bill and his continued effort in championing this important industry in our province and, indeed, our country.

This legislation would require that the minister of public works, when considering maintenance and repair of public works or federal property, to “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.”

Ultimately, this bill aims to encourage the use of more sustainable building materials, including Canada's numerous forestry products.

Colleagues will learn from my speech today that I am a little bullish about our provincial forestry industry. My home province of British Columbia is Canada's largest producer of softwood lumber. B.C.'s largest export is forest products.

Since 2010, over 50 communities across our province have adopted wood-first policies. Quesnel, under the leadership of my friend, former mayor Mary Sjostrom, was the first community in our province to adopt a wood-first policy.

Indeed, my communities of Prince George, Williams Lake, Quesnel and Vanderhoof all have incredible world-class, award-winning facilities, such as the Prince George Airport and the Prince George art gallery. At one time we had the tallest wood building in North America standing at eight storeys, the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, which I am proud to say our former Conservative government supported.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my hometown Williams Lake's incredible tourism information centre, built by my good friends at Pioneer log homes. Colleagues in this House will know them as the world-famous timber kings.

Forestry has been a cornerstone industry in our province for over 100 years and contributes approximately $13 billion to B.C.'s economy. B.C.'s renewable forest products are in demand globally and are providing carbon-friendly building solutions in the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea, India and southeast Asia.

Wood is a renewable resource, which means that it can be replenished and grown over time. This is in contrast to other building materials, like steel or concrete, which are labour intensive and whose production create higher emissions. By building with wood, we can reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources, and in turn, reduce our carbon footprint. Carbon remains stored in wood products for the lifetime of the product. Is this not a prime example of a climate action plan rather than a carbon tax plan?

By building with wood, we can reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources and in turn, as I mentioned, reduce our carbon footprint. Fortunately, Canada is home to 9% of the world’s forests, which have the ability to act as enormous carbon sinks by absorbing and storing carbon. Each year, our forest companies invest millions of dollars in new technology. In fact, between 2010 and 2019, B.C.'s forestry companies invested over $14 billion in their operations and in developing new sustainable technology. They are leading the way in sustainable forest practices.

Annually, Canada harvests less than one-half of 1% of its forest land, allowing for the forest coverage to remain constant for the last century. In B.C., for every tree we harvest, we plant three to six trees. Since 2020, over 300 million trees have been planted.

Canada has some of the strictest forest management regulations in the world, requiring successful regeneration after public forests are harvested. Not only is wood a renewable resource, but it is also one of the few materials that is truly biodegradable. When a wood-framed home reaches the end of its useful life, it can be easily recycled or repurposed. In contrast, many other materials used in construction, such as plastics or vinyl, can take hundreds, if not thousands of years to decompose, filling up landfills and polluting our environment. Wood, lumber and other forest products are not only a sustainable construction option that cut our ecological footprint, but they are all vital economic contributors to my riding of Cariboo—Prince George.

The Cariboo region was at one time British Columbia’s largest producer in the province. However, I am not sure we can say that anymore. In 2019, the Cariboo was home to 21 lumber mills; seven pulp and paper mills; six OSB plywood, veneer and panel plants; five chip mills; three pole and utility producers; three pellet producers—