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


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

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill S-222.


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)

Natural ResourcesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2023 / 3:20 p.m.
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John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

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 S-222, 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 without amendment.

March 10th, 2023 / 10:25 a.m.
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The Chair Liberal John Aldag

Thank you so much, everybody. That concludes the part of business related to Bill S-222.

We have two other items to deal with briefly before we conclude today.

The first is that we need approval of the travel budget related to the Inflation Reduction Act. That was distributed yesterday. Does anybody have any questions on it?

We included travel for seven members, plus a support team. The three locations that were costed out, as discussed on Tuesday, with field trips to be taken, are Houston, Denver and Sacramento.

Did anybody have any questions, or are we ready to vote on a proposal that we can then send off to the Liaison Committee?

Seeing no questions, shall we adopted the budget as presented?

(Motion agreed to)

The very last item I have is to welcome back to the table our analyst. One of our analysts is still back there. We've kept our legislative clerk.

Ross has been with the committee since before I started. He wanted a moment to address the committee.

With that, Ross, it's over to you.

March 10th, 2023 / 10:15 a.m.
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Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

I understand.

You say that, at present, you are already doing what is proposed in Bill S‑222. The minister can authorize the use of wood, and you're already calculating the gains in terms of GHG reductions in your buildings. This bill has no effect because you're already implementing what is in it, which is why I think it is important to add a component for optimizing the use of wood.

Whether the bill is passed or not, there will be no difference in what you are currently doing in the assessment of federal buildings and infrastructure. There is no gain.

Did I understand you correctly?

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

Mr. Hamilton, if I understood what one of your colleagues testified earlier this week, you already consider the carbon footprint when you study your projects. My understanding from that discussion is that you are already doing it.

Currently, the minister can allow the use of wood without the measures in Bill S‑222. That's what I understood from one of your colleagues who appeared earlier this week.

Did I understand correctly? Is what I'm saying consistent with your practices?

March 10th, 2023 / 10:05 a.m.
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Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC


You heard Mr. Samray testify earlier that he had some concerns about the impact of Bill S‑222, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

I support this bill as written. I want to see more wood used, but I seriously doubt that the bill will have any effect on wood use when it comes into force. Will it have any real impact?

There is a fairly simple legal principle called presumption of effectiveness. People say that the legislator doesn't speak for the sake of speaking.

However, Bill S‑222 provides that the minister can “allow the use of wood” and “consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”.

In my opinion, as it stands, the minister can already allow the use of wood and consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. No bill is needed to do that.

So my amendment goes along those lines.

I move the following:

That Bill S‑222, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 12 on page 1 with the following: “shall maximize the use of wood. The Minister may also allow the use of any other thing — including".

I'm adding the idea of maximizing the use of wood. Using “maximize” rather than “can allow” would, at the very least, ensure that more wood is used as a building material.

If the purpose of Bill S‑222 is to give our buildings a smaller carbon footprint, it sounds like wishful thinking in its current form.

As I said earlier, there is a primary legal principle called presumption of effectiveness; the legislator doesn't speak for the sake of speaking. I get the impression that the current bill has the legislator speaking for the sake of speaking.

March 10th, 2023 / 10 a.m.
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The Chair Liberal John Aldag

I call the meeting back to order.

We're now back in session, and we're going to be moving into clause-by-clause. For this part of the meeting, we're going to go through a few reminders first for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-222.

One amendment has been submitted for this bill. Should members wish to submit further amendments during today's meeting, those amendments must be submitted in writing to the clerk of the committee. There's no need for a seconder to move an amendment. Once moved, you will need unanimous consent to withdraw it.

During debate on an amendment, members are permitted to move subamendments. These subamendments must also be submitted in writing. They do not require the approval of the mover of the amendment.

Once every clause has been voted on, the committee will vote on the title and on the bill as a whole.

Finally, the committee will have to order the chair to report the bill to the House. That report will contain only the text of any adopted amendments, as well as an indication of any deleted clauses.

We'll now move into the clause-by-clause portion.

(On clause 1)

We'll call the first clause. We have Mr. Simard's amendment.

Mr. Simard, if you'd like to speak to your amendment, we'll have the discussion on that.

It's over to you.

March 10th, 2023 / 9:10 a.m.
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Jean-François Samray President and Chief Executive Officer, Quebec Forest Industry Council

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) would first like to commend the intent of Bill S‑222, which is to ensure that wood is more systematically considered as a material in federal government infrastructure, thus contributing to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Until now, strategies and measures to reduce the government's GHG emissions have primarily targeted building operating energy.

The means advocated to reduce these emissions focus mainly on improving energy efficiency and conserving energy sources for heating through the use of greener energy, such as hydroelectricity.

However, a growing number of studies show that emissions from the manufacture of building construction materials are a significant source of GHG emissions.

The QFIC shares these views and believes that material selection has a major impact on the carbon footprint of buildings, which is why we support the passage of Bill S‑222.

As a local resource from sustainably managed Canadian forests, wood could contribute substantially to decarbonizing construction. It helps fight climate change in three ways: forests store carbon; wood products store carbon; and wood products are a good substitute for GHG-intensive products.

The QFIC believes that action is needed in all three of those areas if we want more wood used in federal government infrastructure.

First, we must recognize the impact of materials on the carbon footprint of buildings. If we hope to accelerate the decarbonization of the Canadian economy and achieve net zero in the construction sector, one way to get there would be to replace carbon-intensive materials with low-carbon substitutes like wood and other bio-based materials.

Bill S‑222 is very much in line with that way of thinking, and while the QFIC supports the bill, we recommend that more meaningful action be put forward to accelerate the decarbonization of the Canadian economy and achieve net zero in the construction sector.

The QFIC recommends that legislators put in place a requirement to produce a construction material GHG emissions analysis for all construction, maintenance and repair of public works and federal government buildings.

Public policy adopted by government also plays a crucial role, in our view. These policies contribute to the use of wood in building construction and, in turn, to the development of expertise and innovation throughout the wood construction industry.

However, despite the potential for reducing GHG emissions and fostering long-term carbon storage in wood, the policies in place are mostly guidelines and they need to be strengthened, through regulations among other things.

That's why we believe that considering the use of low-carbon materials should go beyond voluntary or incentive measures. Perhaps we might take a cue from some countries that have already gone down this path by including emissions associated with construction materials in buildings' GHG limits.

Third, we believe that informed decision-making must include life cycle analysis.

In the construction industry, life cycle analysis has led to a better understanding of the sources of emissions associated with the building sector and it's also helped assess the relative importance of the emissions produced in manufacturing materials.

The introduction of carbon footprint calculation tools, such as Gestimat in Quebec, supports informed decision-making throughout the design and construction process. It also makes it easier to set reduction targets and measure the achievement of those targets.

We would welcome meaningful measures such as mandatory pre-project life cycle analysis and pilot initiatives that foster systematic consideration of emissions associated with construction materials.

Specifically, the QFIC urges Canadian legislators to introduce a requirement in their legislation for pre-project life cycle analysis, therefore in the pre-design stage.

Fostering and bringing about a change in practices will make it possible to accelerate decarbonization and reap the positive benefits of using wood materials. This will not only help decarbonize construction, it will also help Canada meet its ambitious net zero goals, while also creating jobs and vibrant indigenous and non-indigenous communities across the country.

Thank you for your attention. I am now ready to answer your questions.

March 10th, 2023 / 9:05 a.m.
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Carmen Santoro Senior Executive for Eastern Canada, International Association of Fire Fighters

Good morning and thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for this opportunity to share our views on Bill S-222 and the expanded use of wood in federal government buildings.

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe nation.

To briefly introduce our organization, the International Association of Fire Fighters, or the IAFF, represents more than 330,000 members in North America, including over 26,000 in Canada. Across this country, our members are on scene in minutes in any kind of an emergency, including structure fires, medical emergencies, water and ice rescues, hazardous materials incidents, and much more.

The IAFF supports a vibrant economy and a successful sustainable wood and wood products industry, including the expansion of the forestry sector and the opportunity for those workers. We ask this committee to consider that the increased use of combustible materials should come with increased considerations for fire safety, fire protection resources and firefighter safety. The last thing anyone wants is for a preventable tragedy to occur because of the unintended consequences of using combustible building materials for the wrong building in the wrong location, or in a place where the risk exceeds the capabilities of the local fire departments.

Expanded use of wood products in the construction of federal government buildings should not migrate into certain type 1 buildings as defined in the national building code, such as detention facilities, art facilities or industrial sites, or into such structures as parking garages, structures with major electrical installations or structures that are critical to government operations in the event of a major disaster.

Existing building code and safety-related considerations, such as sprinklers, smoke alarms, egress and floor performance, should be adhered to and enforced.

Building locations should be carefully assessed to ensure that they are not positioned to contribute to or be victim to wildfire, which is a threat that is becoming more and more prevalent in Canada. The design and safety of structures in so-called interface areas should be approached with the greatest amount of caution as the Government of Canada works slowly toward its commitment to train 1,000 firefighters in wildland response in the face of this growing threat.

Currently, the national building code doesn't link building uses to the available fire protection resources or training. We recommend a fire protection assessment in concert with local authorities any time a building with significant wood content is proposed. Local firefighters should be made aware of exactly what kinds of materials are present in a higher-risk structure and must be able to preplan the emergency response operations with training specific to the materials and the risks present. Training and awareness should include reference to any toxic chemicals that are present in building materials, such as wood treatments.

Adequate fire protection resources should be available in such a manner as to arrive on the scene quickly and with an adequate amount of personnel and the equipment necessary to safely and effectively protect lives, protect the structure and protect nearby exposed structures. All of these concerns from a fire protection and firefighter safety point of view are amplified when it comes to proposals for tall wood structures, meaning six- to 12-storey structures that are now permitted in the building code.

Bill S-222 and the rise of innovation in construction support our long-standing call for firefighter safety objectives in a national building code.

On behalf of our members across Canada and the IAFF, we appreciate this opportunity.

Before I close, while I have the floor, I want to say that I've been a firefighter for 37 years. For most of it, I was a supervisor or a captain. What a lot of people don't realize is that we are one of the few professions that do not have the right to refuse unsafe work. Every emergency scene is unsafe work, and we rely on all of you to include safety measures in building codes and fire codes to reduce the dangers that we face every day.

With that, I'll close. Thank you very much.

I am open to questions.

March 10th, 2023 / 9 a.m.
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Keven Lefebvre Fire Chief, Leduc County, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Good morning. Thank you for inviting the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs here today.

My name is Keven Lefebvre. I'm the fire chief for Leduc County in Alberta. I'm an elected CAFC board member and co-chair of the CAFC’s building codes committee.

I am also a member of the advisory council of Canada’s harmonized building codes board and of the Alberta Safety Codes Council's Building Sub-Council. I'm a master electrician, and I start my 42nd year in the fire service later this month.

I'm joined today by CAFC’s executive director, Dr. Tina Saryeddine.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs represents the country’s 3,200 fire departments through their fire chiefs and through a national advisory council of provincial, territorial and national affiliate organizations like the Department of National Defence, one of the largest owners of federal buildings.

Fire departments vary from small, rural volunteer to large, unionized metro departments. Despite our diversity, we are united in our calling to protect the lives of Canadians.

Bill S-222, in the context of federal properties and public works, is commendable. However, my colleagues and I are fire chiefs, so, as is our proclivity, we prepare for what could happen on the worst day.

First, wood has a special meaning to many of us as Canadians, but we must use it selectively. Outcomes could be disastrous in combustible parking garages containing lithium-ion charging systems, such as electric vehicle or solar storage. Well-intentioned environmental efforts, like using wood shingles in wildland urban interfaces, can contribute to wildfire damage. Buildings in these areas need to follow FireSmart principles and include sprinklers and other detection and prevention methodologies.

Secondly, take the necessary measures to ensure that federal buildings are fully operational post-disaster. Canadians require our government to be operational during and after disasters. The buildings need to be part of the solution, not an additional problem. Specific areas of government are currently looking to enhance and toughen building construction in light of the increasing impact of weather-driven disasters. CAFC's 2022 census showed that of the two million emergency events responded to annually, nearly 10% of these are new environmental emergencies.

If encouraging the use of products through government procurement, ensure that the end use is fully understood. Please ensure this bill doesn’t contradict or duplicate already adopted codes and standards. Some buildings, by code, are required to be specifically non-combustible. Understand that additives, treatments and unintended consequences of construction products could actually prevent the carbon reductions you anticipate or even become toxic in a fire.

In this vein, we would like to thank all MPs for their unanimous vote on Wednesday regarding Bill C-224, an act to establish a framework for firefighter cancers.

Our next ask will be to please support an increase in the volunteer firefighters tax credit. Eighty per cent of the country's fire service is volunteer, and no matter what building material you choose, we need every incentive to help protect response capacity in this country.

Thirdly, in Vancouver the successful introduction of tall wood buildings was accompanied by many resources from public safety engineering, many variances to specific code requirements, and much training. Unless we are considering such resources and training wherever we introduce innovation, we fail in its responsible introduction. As you pass this bill, consider that a firefighter safety objective be placed in the regulations under this act and support the same in the national building code of Canada, as required recently in ministerial mandate letters.

Related to this are the tenability times for firefighters to work within structures in the event of fire and the need to include floor performance standards within the national building code. Firefighters can and have fallen through floors during a fire. Canadians need the same floor performance assurances as are provided for in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As you move forward, please ensure that first responders are made aware of and trained to handle construction fires with the materials and methodologies chosen. This is necessary for appropriate entry, evacuation and response measures.

In preparing for today, my colleagues at Ottawa Fire Services reminded us that replacing existing building components with wood, for example, can impact load, fire spread and other safety calculations negatively.

In closing, we have always believed the same building code should apply to everyone, everywhere. It should be enforced and enforceable. It should have a firefighter safety objective. Firefighter readiness, training and equipment must be considered in preparation for what might happen on a building's worst day. The work you are doing today can help to mitigate future problems.

Thank you.

March 10th, 2023 / 8:50 a.m.
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The Chair Liberal John Aldag

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

Welcome to meeting 56 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 (use of wood).

Today’s meeting is taking place in a hybrid format pursuant to the House order of June 23, 2022.

Now that we're in session, screenshots are not allowed.

I'd like to make a few comments.

Charlie, do you have a point of order, or can I get through my opening comments? Is translation not working?

March 7th, 2023 / 5:20 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal John Aldag

I think there was a location in northern California, a site visit that was also deemed to be of interest, so we could see about doing that if we're narrowing it down to three locations.

What I'm hearing is this: We'll take Washington off the list now. We'll cost out Houston, Denver and Sacramento, and then we'll bring forward the final costed budget for comment and perhaps approval on Friday so that we can transmit it by the deadline to liaison.

Is that okay? All right. Good.

That's all I have for today. On Friday we'll continue with Bill S-222. We have one panel with one witness from each of the parties. I think everybody got their first choice except for the Bloc. Theirs wasn't available, so we have their second choice coming. There will be four panellists.

The second hour is reserved for clause-by-clause. In this case, I think there's one clause, so it'll be the “clause” review. Then we'll do the budget discussion and that will be the end of our time together this week.

Thanks, everybody. With that, the meeting is adjourned.

March 7th, 2023 / 4:50 p.m.
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Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Thank you for that clarification. I have only 30 seconds left.

My final comment is that it's obviously great to see the federal government moving in this direction. I want to give a big thank you to the folks who drove the bus on Bill S-222, Senator Diane Griffin and MP Cannings, because our wood sector in Canada is going through a renaissance. This is part of the renaissance that we want to see for both the economy and the environment.

Thank you, Chair.

March 7th, 2023 / 4:45 p.m.
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Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Thank you to both gentlemen for that answer.

The thing I do wish to put on record is that in the province of Ontario, up in York region and in the heart of the riding I represent, the folks who are building these mass timber projects are being trained at the Local 27 carpenters union training centre in the city of Vaughan. When you walk in there and go for a tour—the Prime Minister was with me less than two weeks ago at the training centre—you see mass timber there. You see trainees learning how to put it together and how to make sure that it's safe, that it's load-bearing and that it's everything we want it to be when it's utilized. Obviously, we all applaud those in the skilled trades who work hard every day to build our communities in this country. They are being trained to utilize mass timber as well.

This is my last question for this round. Will Bill S-222 overcome barriers on the federal government side in selecting wood as a building material? With the innovation that's going on with regard to mass timber and the environmental benefits, and Canada being blessed with the actual resource, much like the Scandinavian countries are, we'll also lead that. Can the officials comment on how Bill C-222 will help us move in that direction expeditiously?

If I could go to the NRCan official first, that would be great.

March 7th, 2023 / 4:45 p.m.
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Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being here.

Obviously this bill is well known to everyone. I was able to take a look at when Bill S-222 actually appeared before the Senate committee and the testimony that was provided there to the hon. senators, and now we're going through this in the House.

There doesn't seem to be too much disagreement in terms of moving forward with using more mass timber in our country. We are blessed with the resource and we are blessed with the know-how to do it. Frankly, some of the Scandinavian countries as well as Austria have used mass timber for many years, and I know there's a lot of assistance in terms of looking at how they've been using it for the period of time they have.

My first question is this: With regard to the number of buildings or projects that are being constructed, is there an update from the officials on the uptake in using mass timber? I'd like someone to comment on that, please.

March 7th, 2023 / 4:30 p.m.
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Stéphan Déry Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon.

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be appearing before the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in my capacity as assistant deputy minister of real property services at Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, to discuss the role my organization could play with respect to Bill S-222, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which our head office is located is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. The Algonquin peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial, and we are grateful to be present in this territory.

PSPC manages one of the largest and most diverse portfolios of real estate in the country and is the Government of Canada’s real estate expert. PSPC provides safe, healthy and productive working environments for over 260,000 federal employees across Canada, including accommodation for parliamentarians and a full range of real property services, including the provision of architectural and engineering services.

The spirit and intent of this proposed legislation aligns with the government’s goals of supporting Canadian industry to further develop sustainable materials solutions, including wood products, in the pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment.

I would like to highlight the important work undertaken by PSPC in that regard.

The 2020 greening government strategy requires the government to reduce the environmental impact of structural construction materials by disclosing the amount of embodied carbon in the structural materials for major construction projects. There is also a requirement to reduce the embodied carbon of structural materials of major construction projects by 30% starting in 2025. Implementing tools to support these requirements within PSPC will be a key focus in the coming years.

Public Services and Procurement Canada considers the entire context of a project before starting new construction or rehabilitation projects by analyzing each project on a holistic basis. This approach ensures a balanced review of all of the various requirements, while respecting our commitments to indigenous collaboration, reducing costs, using sustainable materials and meeting our greening and net-zero carbon commitments.

The most recent mandate letter of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement requires that PSPC work with Infrastructure Canada and Natural Resources Canada to put a new buy clean strategy in place to support and prioritize the use of made-in-Canada low-carbon products in Canadian infrastructure projects.

Through its expertise in sustainability and as supplier of procurement, architecture and engineering services and real property assets, PSPC is especially well positioned to have a direct and significant impact on the greening of government operations. PSPC is actively participating in a number of initiatives that support the use of lower-carbon materials in construction projects.

Here are some examples. We are working with the National Research Council of Canada to produce a set of Canadian data on low-carbon building materials to enable informed decision-making through the life cycle assessment initiative and the incorporation of low-carbon requirements in construction and infrastructure projects in Canada. The Canadian National Master Construction Specification was updated in 2021 to include new details on encapsulated mass timber construction.

We are collaborating with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s centre for greening government to support the implementation of reduced embodied carbon in structural materials by developing mandatory requirements and carrying out pilot projects. Discussions are under way with the concrete, steel and wood industries in order to establish reduction targets.

At PSPC, we are always mindful of the materials we source for our infrastructure projects and continue to encourage green innovation.

In conclusion, Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue to lead the way in embedding environmental considerations into its requirements with respect to the construction, modernization, maintenance and repair of federal real property.

At PSPC, our practices allow for the use of wood and other green building materials in accordance with project requirements and in compliance with the health and safety requirements outlined in building codes.

Mr. Tourigny and I are now pleased to answer your questions.

Thank you.

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.
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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.
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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—

The House resumed from November 28, 2022, 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

November 28th, 2022 / 11:55 a.m.
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Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-222. I too, as other speakers have, support this legislation.

One thing I have not heard much of today that I would like to talk about in the short period of time I have is why it makes sense to transition to using more wood products. If we look at the residential buildings built in Ontario recently, we are seeing many more being built taller out of wood. Obviously Ontario has its own building code, but it is informed to a large degree by the national building code. Until recently, within the last decade or so, wood buildings could only be four storeys as the maximum, but now we are seeing that increase quite a bit. Six, seven, eight storeys in different parts of Ontario are permitted to be built out of wood.

We are seeing this shift back towards more wood-based construction not just because of the environmental impacts associated with that and how environmentally unfriendly concrete can be, even though concrete has come a long way in the last couple of decades in terms of its carbon footprint. One of the other things we are seeing is the manner in which we can protect people from fires. Quite frankly, decades ago, when wood was being used a lot, there were not a lot of mitigating measures in place to prevent fires from spreading in structures that had an incredible amount of wood. That is probably why most building codes moved away from using wood towards concrete, particularly in large residential and commercial applications.

However, now there are more fire-suppression tools being used, better ways of suppressing a fire by using certain types of drywall, installing different measures to ensure there is proper egress from buildings in the event of a fire, as well as ensuring that if a fire does occur, there is an opportunity to allow people a certain amount of time to escape before being impacted by—

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, like a lot of my colleagues in this place, I spend a lot of time in airports. Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to spend a few minutes in my home airport, the Smithers Regional Airport. I was sitting in the departure lounge watching the sun set behind Hudson Bay Mountain and looking around the room, marvelling at what a beautiful space the community has created there. I know there are not many airports one could describe as beautiful, but it is certainly one of them.

It has personal significance for me because, during my time in local government as the mayor of Smithers, we undertook a major renovation of the Smithers Regional Airport. It was a building dating back to the 1950s and was in much need of renovation and renewal. Part of that was a brand new departure lounge. In undertaking this major project, with help from the provincial and federal governments, we had a number of objectives. We obviously wanted to make it a functional, modern space, but we also wanted to use it as an opportunity to tackle our community's greenhouse gas emissions and take responsibility for our role in this huge challenge we face.

We did that in a number of ways. We installed a geoexchange system for heating and cooling the building, which takes energy out of the ground and does so mostly without the use of fossil fuels. The other area where we really tried to drive sustainability was the use of wood.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about some of the more technical aspects, but what I was struck by yesterday, sitting in this room looking at the beautiful glulam beams and expanses of cross-laminated timber, is just the beauty of wood as a building product. In addition to all its other benefits, it is truly a spectacular product to be building with. This is important not only because the forest industry is a big part of our economy and always has been in British Columbia, but also, in the context of this bill, because wood is a lower-carbon building material than many other options.

I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill S-222. I believe this bill originally was intended to promote the use of wood in the construction of public infrastructure in Canada. I want to take a moment to recognize Senator Griffin, the bill's sponsor in the other place, but mostly my colleague, the brilliant MP for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, who has been a tireless champion for the role wood can play in addressing climate change.

This bill calls for amending the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by adding the following wording to the clause laying out the minister’s powers and responsibilities:

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.

I understand that was amended to recognize some of the improvements in the steel industry and in the manufacturing of concrete, etc.

I hope colleagues will forgive me if my comments about this bill speak directly to the benefits of wood as a building product. This is a topic that has personal significance for me. My father worked for over 30 years in the forest industry. He was a buckerman, which, for folks who are less familiar with forestry, is the person who works in the bush and cuts the logs to length before they are loaded onto the trucks headed for the mill.

I remember how frustrated my dad was by some of the waste that occurred in the forest industry at the time. There were trees and logs that were too big to be used by the sawmills and were left in the bush and eventually burned. I remember his chainsaw mill, a little portable mill that attached to his chainsaw. He would take it out on the weekends and mill these logs into slabs, bring them home and build beautiful things from them. He was also the person who instilled in me a love for forests and a recognition of the need to do forestry responsibly and sustainably, an area I believe we continue to make progress in today. Of course, he built many beautiful things out of wood.

As I speak to this bill today, I am thinking of my dad and those values he instilled in me.

Bill S-222 speaks to public procurement as an opportunity for addressing greenhouse gas emissions through the choice of building materials, and this is indeed a huge opportunity. Much of the debate around tackling climate change has focused on emissions from the operation of buildings and transportation and such. However, the embodied carbon in building materials represents a significant challenge and opportunity when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. Given the billions of dollars spent on public procurement every year, and my colleague across the way mentioned the figure of, I believe, $27 billion per year, this represents a significant opportunity for Canada.

When we dig into the role of embodied carbon in Canada's overall emissions, it is a surprisingly complex picture. At a high level, the advantage of wood rests on the fact that trees grow back and that the carbon stored in wood is stored for as long as the buildings it is used in are still standing. One source I found cited softwood timber as having an embodied carbon footprint of 110 kilograms per cubic metre, compared to 635 kilograms per cubic metre for reinforced concrete.

Admittedly, when we look for figures on the carbon footprint of building materials, we will find a huge range. Therein lies some of the complexity in evaluating different building materials and their climate impacts. However, the benefits of wood as a renewable resource are quite obvious.

Much of the life cycle climate carbon implications hinge on our management of forests. It is a popular idea to think of Canada's forests as climate-fighting machines that suck carbon out of the atmosphere, but the actual numbers, I think, would surprise people. A couple of years ago it came out that Canada's forests, since 2001, have actually been sources of carbon emissions and have emitted more carbon than they have sucked out of the air. This points to the need to consider the big picture when it comes to the climate implications of forest products.

Jim Pojar, a renowned ecologist based in Smithers, has expressed some caution regarding the notion that forestry is carbon neutral. He writes:

It should be emphasized that the underlying carbon budget calculations are complex and depend on assumptions about a future with much uncertainty around carbon dynamics in a rapidly changing environment.

The approach he advocates is one he calls “smart harvest and...substitution”, which couples forest management improvements with the substitution of wood in the place of more carbon-intensive building materials. Despite the complexity in evaluating the carbon emissions from different building materials, there does seem to be broad agreement that using wood products in buildings is an important tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I mentioned the beauty of wood, which admittedly is a subjective benefit. Less subjective is the economic impact of manufacturing wood products in regions like the one I live in. So many people I speak with are alarmed by the volume of raw logs we continue to export. They understand intuitively that the more we can add value to our raw resources, the more we can manufacture things, the more people in our communities are going to have jobs and the more benefits we can accrue.

In our region, there are thousands of people employed in forestry: loggers, truck drivers, mill workers, tree planters, foresters and so many more. As we grapple with mid-term timber supply constraints and managing a landscape for multiple values, it becomes ever more important to maximize the number of jobs and the economic benefits from every cubic metre of timber harvested. If we can use public procurement to increase demand for manufactured Canadian wood products, we can spur investment in new manufacturing facilities, new technology and new applications for wood.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, which is home to UNBC's master of engineering in integrated wood design program. It is one example of how, in British Columbia, we are seeking to do more with wood, to innovate and to create models that can be applied around the world.

I am thankful for the time today to talk about this important topic and I hope this bill passes into law very soon.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11:35 a.m.
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Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill S­222.

If we want to trace the origins of the discussions that led to an act that would benefit forest products, we need to go back to the proposals of the Bloc Québécois. As early as March 2010, Bill C‑429, which dealt with something very similar and was sponsored by the member for Manicouagan at the time, was being studied. The same thing happened a few years later, in 2014. The member for my former riding, Jonquière-Alma, which is now called Jonquière, had also tabled a similar bill. What we realized then was that the House's interest in supporting the forestry sector was not very high.

I would remind the House that, at the time, in 2010, the NDP voted in favour of the bill. However, in 2014, they changed their stance a bit. Half of their caucus was against the bill because it might be detrimental to the steel beam industry. I say that because I feel that there has never been the appropriate balance of power to bring the interests of the forestry industry to the House. It is no coincidence that the province where the forestry industry is largest is Quebec. Unfortunately, here, the Conservatives, among others, have never voted in favour of such measures.

Bill S‑222 certainly has potential, but there is no denying that it will need to be amended if it is referred to committee. The major difference in Bill S‑222 is that it is devoid of any means of enforcement. The bill feels like wishful thinking: It simply hopes that more wood will be used. However, if we are to achieve this, there must be some means of enforcement. This is the case with the Quebec law.

In Quebec, the wood charter assumes that, for all buildings under six storeys, a wood solution must be considered. It is mandatory. Perhaps it is something that can be corrected in the bill. We may be able to do that work in committee, but it would be essential. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, but I believe that it should go a little further and make consideration of wood for federal government infrastructure mandatory.

I will take this opportunity to address another aspect. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I find that the forestry sector tends to be overlooked when it comes to federal government support. I would like to demonstrate that. As I have repeated around 3,000 times in the House, Canada has an economy that is based on two major industries: the oil and gas sector and the automobile sector. Support for the forestry sector has consistently been anemic.

I will share some figures from a study that I commissioned along with every other member of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois is a caucus that is focused on the issue of softwood lumber. I will share the figures from the nine key federal programs that help the forestry sector.

From 2017 to 2020, we can say that roughly $317 million was redirected to the forestry sector. Keep in mind that 75% of the money that was distributed throughout Canada was in the form of guaranteed loans and 25% of that money was in the form of real subsidies. Earlier, the comparison was made with the oil and gas sector, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.

Quebec represents 22.5% of the federation, but the volume of Quebec's forestry sector represents a bit more than 30% of the sector Canada-wide. Canada pays Quebec $71 million a year. If we apply that same calculation, that means that 75% of that amount is in the form of loans. Quebec is therefore paid $53.5 million a year in the form of loans and $17 billion is paid in the form of subsidies. My region of Quebec, Saguenay‑Lac‑Saint‑Jean, provides more to the federal government than the entirety of the subsidies that are offered to Quebec's forestry sector. The $71 million paid by the federal government to the forestry industry does not even represent 0.3% of the sector's $20 billion in annual sales.

I checked and found that the federal government provides the least amount of support to these sectors. I see the disparity when I examine the fossil fuel sector. I say that because, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is doing a comparative study of all the different natural resources sectors.

If I look at the fossil fuel sector, the cost of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone is $21 billion. Then, there are the $18 billion a year over 2020-22. Canada Economic Development, or CED, will be providing $5.4 billion, which will be redirected only to the oil and gas sector. That does not include $2.5 billion in the last budget for carbon capture strategies. As I am not meanspirited, I am not going to talk about everything to do with the cleanup of orphan wells and lines of credit that we have seen since 2019. I just want to say that it is appalling.

There really is a double standard. I do not see why this legislation would not pass. It would not cost the federal government very much to consider promoting the use of lumber in its contracts. It is simply a regulatory measure that does not necessarily involve funding.

We know that the federal government is allergic to supporting the forestry industry. If a small sawmill asks for help from CED, it will not get it. Instead, the sawmill will be immediately referred to Global Affairs Canada. No small sawmill in Quebec or Canada can get support from the economic arm of the federal government alone for fear of violating American softwood lumber laws. That is a big problem. It means that companies that do not even do business with the United States are not entitled to support from CED.

I want to quickly come back to what the Bloc Québécois has been doing to support the forestry industry. In September 2020, we presented a green recovery plan to get out of the COVID‑19 pandemic. One of the main focuses of this recovery plan is the development of natural resources, including the forestry sector.

In October 2020, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources was studying the renewal of the forestry sector. There were some very interesting proposals, one being that the federal government start using the concept of carbon footprint in its tenders.

Perhaps this could be worked into Bill S‑222. It goes much further than just using wood in construction. If we go with the idea of a carbon footprint, then all derivatives from the bioeconomy—that is, products derived from the forest biomass—would qualify. Think of packaging products, for one. We can replace single-use plastics right now. It would provide a much broader scope for supporting the forestry sector, and we could reduce our carbon footprint.

Unfortunately, even though these recommendations were made in a committee study, the government never acted on them. In fact, last week we had people from the forestry sector come before us. They came to tell us that the time for committee studies has passed, and we must now take action. We are still waiting for that action.

In April 2021, the Bloc Québécois hosted a forum on forests and climate change. Participants included experts from academia and the forestry sector, producers and people involved in research and development. At the end of the forum, participants reached a unanimous conclusion. From an economic perspective, our best weapon in the battle against climate change is the forestry sector. Forests are carbon sinks. The more carbon we sequester by building with wood, the better our GHG performance.

I recently toured Chantiers Chibougamau with my party leader. I would actually encourage all members to go see what is happening at Chantiers Chibougamau. They are superstars. They use pulpwood, the little bits from treetops, to make glued-laminated I-joists of astounding size.

I see my time is up. I will be happy to vote in favour of this bill, but it needs improvement. I hope that, going forward, the government will pay closer attention when it comes to the forestry sector.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11:25 a.m.
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Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to speak to Bill S-222. I want to recognize the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing this bill.

Back in 1951, when my grandfather was 21 years old, he came across the ocean from the Netherlands with $200 in his pockets, which was a lot of money back then. He bought a chainsaw and proceeded to make a fortune cutting down trees in northern British Columbia. That was a lifelong passion of his. He was very much an admirer of Canadian forests and Canadian trees.

Having bought a chainsaw, that was his means to earn a living here in Canada, and it was a good living. He noted that by 1956, he bought a brand new Chevrolet pickup for $1,600, and that in one particular month he made $2,200. He made more money in one month than it cost to buy a brand new pickup. In today's dollars, that is probably $40,000 or $50,000 in one month, which is incredible.

The forestry industry across Canada is one of the reasons Canada exists. There were many interests coming across the ocean early on, starting in about year 1,000. There was the fishing industry that came across the ocean, with people fishing off the Grand Banks, but also the lumber industry. When folks came from Europe to Canada for the first time, they noted the large trees, and for shipbuilding they used the trees here. One of the reasons that people came to Canada was to develop our forest industry and use the giant trees we have here to build things. That is definitely part of our heritage and part of the reason that Canada exists, and it is good to recognize that.

If members are ever in Calgary, they should check out the ATCO Commercial Centre. It is a big new building in the middle of Calgary. I had the opportunity to speak at an anti-human trafficking event that was hosted there just a couple of weeks ago, and I was impressed and blown away by the grandeur of the building and all of the beam work inside of it. I bet the ceiling is nearly 100 feet tall. It is as tall as the ceiling in here or maybe taller, and whereas here we see the beams are made out of steels, there they are made out of wood. It is an impressive structure and is really neat to see, and it is something we can enjoy as a Canadian society.

I will get back to my grandfather coming across the ocean to become a logger in northern British Columbia. While this bill is very much supportive of the forestry industry and the lumber industry, the challenge we have today is that many people are fighting against the harvesting of our forests. Most of those in the forestry industry whom I deal with in my area have a 100-year plan on how they are going to harvest the trees. They harvest some trees in one area, move to another area and harvest some trees and then move to another area. Within 100 years, they anticipate harvesting about 70% of all trees on the landscape, but by the time they are done that, they can go back to where they started and start harvesting the trees all over again. In the area where I live, the average tree is probably 40 or 50 years old before the wind blows it over, it dies or a forest fire comes along and takes care of it, so a 100-year plan on harvesting the forest is a good idea.

There is a huge amount of value that lives in the forest, but there is an increasing number of voices in this country of people who want to shut down the forestry industry and want to shut down logging. For full disclosure, I have many family members who work in the forestry industry. My brother works in the forestry industry building roads and working on a processor. My brother-in-law is a heavy-duty mechanic who works on forestry equipment, so it is a big part of my family's life. Increasingly, they are frustrated with the inability of the government to get organized around managing and developing the industry.

This is a good bill, in that it recognizes the potential and the benefits of the forestry industry. Particularly, I would note that in British Columbia there is more and more difficulty in getting access to the wood fibre. In Alberta, it is not a great deal better. The rest of the country I am not as familiar with, so I cannot say. However, it is an increasing challenge all the time to get access to the wood fibre. While Bill S-222 would indicate we should be using wood to build buildings, if we are unable to harvest the trees in the forest in order to make the lumber, this bill would not necessarily go places.

We have to ensure that this is a country that can build things again, that can develop its natural resources and that lives up to the heritage it was given by the first peoples who developed our forestry industry. Wood has been used to build dwellings and buildings forever. There are wood structures around the world that are over 1,000 years old. It is a good building product, but we need to ensure that we can develop this resource across the country.

I would note that there are voices across this country that are working very hard to minimize and to stop the development of our forestry industry. Particularly, British Columbia is where I note this to be a challenge, and I hope we can see governments coming around to promoting this. I would note that the New Democrats have been a government in power in British Columbia for a long time, and were historically very much champions of development of the forestry industry. However, today it seems to be a challenge to develop the forestry industry.

We are seeing a reduction in allowable cuts. We are seeing a reduction in the land that is available for managing it. It is ironic, to some degree, that most of British Columbia is covered by forests. It is one of the areas where forestry is probably the most valuable resource they have. The northern half of Alberta is covered with forests, and forestry is a big deal up there as well, but I note that it is definitely something we have to be concerned about.

Interestingly, we have had a few discussions with folks around fire concerns and wood buildings. It is an interesting discussion to have regarding fire ratings. Let us think about it a little and get back to that ATCO building in Calgary. The same building could be built with steel girders.

Typically, steel girders are an I-beam configuration. What is really fascinating about a steel girder in an I-beam configuration versus a wooden glulam beam, which is made from multiple laminated pieces of wood, is that the wood actually has a much better fire rating.

This is interesting, because we think that fire would consume the wood. The wood is consumed in a fire, but it actually maintains its structural integrity for a very long time, even if it is burning. However, a steel beam, because of the two layers, will actually twist and buckle if one side of it is heated. We had a bridge in Edmonton that buckled just because of the heat of the sunshine, so it is interesting to think about some of these things.

I am looking forward to supporting this bill. I hope this country can get back to developing our natural resources and harvesting the trees.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11:20 a.m.
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Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

In addition, during the rehabilitation of West Block and the Senate of Canada building, more than 90% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, and a number of environmentally innovative measures were incorporated to save energy and reduce water use. We are also committing that starting in 2030, 75% of new lease and lease renewal floor space will be in net-zero climate-resilient buildings.

To ensure we move forward with reducing the carbon footprint of governmental operations, all departments are subject to various legal instruments. Indeed, the greening government strategy flows from the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

With Bill S-222, we have an opportunity to encourage the use of wood by PSPC and, by extension, the whole of government to meet our climate change objectives. Indeed, wood represents a green approach to building and renovation. It is a renewable resource that is widely available across most of this country. The forest sector is a key source of economic prosperity for people and communities across the country, including many rural, remote and indigenous communities.

The benefits of wood in construction have been evident for hundreds of years. Many of the wood buildings that were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century are still standing and being used today. Moreover, newer wood waste products, such as mass timber, are less carbon-intensive than other materials and could be used more extensively in Canadian construction to remove the carbon emissions equivalent of taking 125,000 internal combustion engine cars off the road every year.

Promoting the use of wood in the construction of federal buildings would be meaningless if this country's forests were poorly managed. As it happens, Canada's forest laws are among the strictest in the world. They protect our forests and ensure that sustainable forest management practices are applied across the country.

This should reassure consumers and all Canadians that Canadian wood and forest products have been harvested under a robust system of sustainable forest management.

To conclude, I would like to go back to the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development and draw attention to goal 9 of that agenda, which states that signatory countries are to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” This agenda commits Canada to “upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable” by 2030 and to increase “resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes”.

Time is of the essence. CO27 has just called on the world to take urgent action. Canada will need to accelerate its climate action, and Bill S-222 can enhance the role that greener government operations are already playing to meet our obligations to this country and around the world.

I want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his work on this file.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11:15 a.m.
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Mount Royal Québec


Anthony Housefather LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my friend from South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his sponsorship of the bill, for his advocacy and for his hard work on this. I really appreciate it. I think he has done a yeoman's job on this file, including through his meetings with firefighters and others. I thank him. I think this is a very good bill, and I am pleased to speak about how we can make our government operations greener through smart investments in public infrastructure.

The efforts of this government to be more sustainable in how it operates, what it buys and what it builds are more important than ever right now. After a summer of unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, floods and storm surges around the world and right here at home, it is well past time to seriously accelerate our action against greenhouse gas emissions.

This past March, the government introduced its 2030 emissions reduction plan. This plan is our path to meeting our target under the Paris Agreement to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan maps out how we will reduce our emissions from 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, with clear milestones. It is consistent with the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

In Canada, we must lead the way. Indeed, as the Prime Minister has said, “climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us.” He has mandated his ministers to seek opportunities within their portfolio to “support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.”

As we work toward solutions to ease and mitigate the environmental damage, we are positioning ourselves to bring about real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Bill S‑222 will encourage the government to use wood, a sustainable, renewable material, in the construction and renovation of federal buildings and infrastructure projects.

One department is particularly well positioned to help the government achieve its greening government strategy objectives. That department is Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC. As the government's primary procurement body and manager of its real property, the department can prioritize purchasing and using materials that reduce our carbon footprint.

Today I would like to talk to you about how PSPC can play a unique and important role in reducing our GHG emissions and how wood products are essential to achieving that.

I would like to start with a brief explanation of what PSPC does. First, the department is the government's central purchasing agency, responsible for about 24 billion dollars' worth of procurement activity annually on behalf of most government departments and agencies. Second, PSPC is also the property manager for a vast portfolio of buildings it owns or rents across the country. In addition to office buildings, that portfolio includes heritage properties, such as the parliamentary precinct, and numerous bridges, wharves and dams across the country.

These two sectors offer a significant opportunity to achieve greener outcomes, and advance the goals of sustainable development and a carbon neutral portfolio for Canada.

By prioritizing green procurement, PSPC can help protect the environment in several different ways. Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations, green procurement will also have the same effect on our supply chains. Moreover, it cuts down on the use of hazardous and toxic substances, pollution and plastic waste. It also supports the Canadian economy by creating new markets for innovative products and services. In this context, green procurement includes assessing the life cycles of goods that are purchased, and adopting clean technologies and green products and services.

The government’s policy on green procurement also stipulates the criteria for sustainable goods and services to guide procurement operations. These criteria require potential suppliers to demonstrate that their products can reduce emissions, are sustainable or have other environmental benefits.

Given that it purchases nearly $24 billion on behalf of the majority of departments and agencies, PSPC has substantial leverage to create markets for sustainable goods. This can act like a virtuous circle and inspire other manufacturers and businesses to up their game and offer greener alternatives to the greater consumer market, which will benefit all of us.

The greening government strategy also commits the government to maintaining a plan to reach net zero for its real property portfolio by 2050. That plan also has to show that its buildings and infrastructure are resilient to climate change and cost-effective. For example, PSPC is transforming the iconic Centre Block from one of the highest-emitting PSPC assets to a near net-zero carbon facility. It is also using low-carbon construction materials where possible in the new Parliament Welcome Centre. In addition, during the rehabilitation of West Block—

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

November 24th, 2022 / 2:15 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, off the top, I would like to send out congratulations to Kimo Linders of Penticton for winning the small business of the year award from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada last night, as well as to the amazing Penticton Vees, who just won their 21st game in a row in the B.C. Hockey League.

I also want to talk about Bill S-222, which will be debated Monday morning. This is a small, but mighty bill that simply asks the federal government to consider the environmental footprint of building materials when constructing infrastructure. This was my private member's bill in a previous Parliament and I was inspired to bring it forward by the new mass timber technology pioneered by Structurlam in my hometown of Penticton.

With new materials such as mass timber, we can build safe and beautiful buildings that will also help us in our fight against climate change. I hope everyone here will support Bill S-222 to literally help build a better future for Canada.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActRoutine Proceedings

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

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

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

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

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

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Message from the SenateGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

I have the honour to inform the House that messages have been received from the Senate informing the House that the Senate has passed the following bills to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-208, an act respecting the Declaration on the Essential Role of Artists and Creative Expression in Canada; Bill S-222, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood); and Bill S-224, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons).

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Health; the hon. member for Calgary Centre, The Environment; the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, Taxation.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.