Evidence of meeting #31 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was companies.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Paul Hébert  Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada
Ryan Montpellier  Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resources Council
Philip Bousquet  Senior Program Director, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada
Scott Cavan  Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Are you saying that 10% or 15% of that population at the mine are university educated and would be using those skills?

4:40 p.m.

Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resources Council

Ryan Montpellier

For the mining industry as a whole, that's correct.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Now, the—

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Mr. Bevington, we're out of time. I do apologize, but that's what happens when the clock's running.

Some information that might be helpful to you, Mr. Bevington, is on the second page of the Library of Parliament document. It's the StatsCan information with regard to employment in the mining sector.

Mr. Payne, you have five minutes.

March 27th, 2012 / 4:40 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you, Chair.

And I thank the witnesses for coming today.

I was interested when you talked about 110,000 new workers by 2011, which obviously means there's probably going to be a lot of exploration and projects going on.

In your estimation, what's the potential for mining in the north to expand and provide a stable economy for northerners?

4:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

The potential is substantial. It's quite dramatic. With increased geoscience baseline knowledge in the north comes that increase of potential. Those buoyant commodity prices that I talked about are driving a lot of exploration and a lot of development. We've already seen some new projects come online, whether it's Meadowbank or others.

They come with some challenges as well. The far north comes with some infrastructure challenges, for example—it's far from rail and ports and what we need to get our goods to market—and some fairly substantial human resources challenges as well, for finding an adequate workforce nearby or flying them in from wherever we can get them.

But there's no question that the potential is huge, and we're talking in the billions of dollars. When we talk about the $140 billion opportunity over the next five years, those are multi-billion dollar opportunities in all jurisdictions across the country, with the exception of P.E.I.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Okay. Do you have any idea of the number of projects in the North? You talked in the billions of dollars. Do you have any estimated projects that might go ahead in the next few years?

4:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

I don't have a list of projects with me, but I could definitely get back to you with projects that are in the EA process and what stage they're at. That is something we have.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Okay. That would be great.

We've also heard over the last little while about the complex regulatory regimes in the north, especially in the NWT. At the same time, there are obviously immense opportunities available. From your point of view, what would be the key improvements to the regulatory system that would allow for the sustainable resources development environment in the north to generate jobs for northerners and all Canadians?

4:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

There are a few.

Starting with Nunavut, there would be the completion of the Nunavut regulatory framework that's ongoing. That would provide some clarity. There is a double-bonding issue in the north that has recently come to light, where companies have to post reclamation bonds and performance bonds more than once because there is a jurisdictional overlap.

Some Fisheries Act reform could be quite useful. We need, for example, effluent regulations for non-metal mines. A challenge that I've already mentioned, and would reiterate, would be renewed funding for aboriginal skills training. That has been very successful and would be an enabling piece to help northerners take full advantage of their resource endowment.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

What I'm hearing is that some simplification processes need to be in place for the regulations, and eliminate any duplications that might be there.

4:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

Yes, absolutely. Clarity and certainty is the mantra of industry. They really need to know what they're getting into and to have some predictability concerning the process so that they can raise capital and provide a return on that investment.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

I believe you mentioned something about the De Beers diamond mine.

Could you describe how the aboriginal communities and other northerners have benefited from the development of those diamond mines? Has this record of benefits been duplicated in other communities and in the territories?

4:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

I can speak to the Victor Mine situation at Attawapiskat. As I mentioned, since the start of construction roughly five years ago, over $325 million in contracts have been awarded to Attawapiskat First Nation businesses. That's a community of only 1,800 people on reserve. Of the 500 employees at De Beers Victor Mine, 100 are from Attawapiskat. That's 20% of the workforce from that one community. Those are examples.

In 2011 alone, more than $51 million in contracts were awarded to Attawapiskat First Nation businesses. On a previous question, some challenges remain around understanding how benefits can accrue to members of the entire community versus a handful of business owners. That happens better in some communities than in others. Getting to the heart of why it works when it does work is of primary interest to industry because they want to see it succeed.

Another first nations community I would point to is the Kamloops Indian Band in B.C. that I mentioned earlier. It's quite an entrepreneurial community, and a number of businesses have been formed. There's a lot of benefit making its way to the community.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you very much.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Ms. Hughes, we'll turn to you for five minutes.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

My colleague wants to ask a question first.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Hébert, you raised that you have called on the government to make changes to the Fisheries Act.

Have you requested that the fisheries habitat provisions be removed?

4:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

No, we have not.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Okay. Carol, go ahead.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Thank you very much.

You talked about the ASEP agreement, the ASEP program, and the fact that funding right now is going to be ending. I'm assuming that you're part of the sector councils as well. On the sector council piece, how much of your budget is funded by the federal government?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resources Council

Ryan Montpellier

It changes year over year, but currently about 75% of our budget comes from the sector council program and about 25% comes from industry.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

We had ECO Canada here. We also had ECO Canada yesterday at HRSDC, as well as BioTalent Canada, who talked about the impact this will have. If you're funding is 75%, do you think industry will come to your rescue to help you out?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resources Council

Ryan Montpellier

It's a very good question.

We are in the midst of an organizational transformation at present. We have enjoyed a tremendous amount of support in kind from the mining and mineral exploration sector over the course of the last 15 years, and we have tremendous partnerships with the mining sector. There is no question that the changes Minister Finley announced to the sector council program will have an impact on our ability to continue to fulfill our mandate to identify and address the challenges.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Just with respect to the impact, what would the impact be on you if they couldn't continue?