Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for this abbreviated session, circumstances being what they are.
With me today are my deputy minister, Paul Boothe; the CEO of Parks Canada Agency, Alan Latourelle; vice-president of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Mr. Yves Leboeuf; assistant deputy minister, science and technology branch at Environment Canada, Dr. Karen Dodds; and Environment Canada's chief financial officer, Carol Najm.
As we look forward to the next 12 months, our government is keenly interested in striking the right balance between economic renewal and environmental protection. We need to ensure that our natural resources are developed in an environmentally sustainable manner while we maximize economic growth, competitiveness, and the creation of good long-term jobs for Canadians.
As you all know, Environment Canada is a regulatory department. Its main function is to develop, implement, monitor and enforce national, science-based environmental regulations and standards.
One of our focuses this year will be to streamline and to increase the efficiency and transparency of our regulatory processes so that we can make them more efficient and more effective. We intend to take our proven track record of regulatory excellence to the next level as Environment Canada is committed to operating as a world-class regulator.
As regulations define many of our efforts at Environment Canada, these changes will be a key component in enabling this department to achieve many of its goals for Canadians. Those include carrying out our commitment to reduce this country's greenhouse gas emissions by 17% over 2005 base levels by 2020. Canada is already one-quarter of the way towards reaching its 2020 target through our sector-by-sector approach.
We have targeted the transportation and electricity sectors—the two largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. We have introduced new emissions regulations for cars and trucks in the transportation sector. We are now addressing the electricity sector by refining the regulations and creating new performance standards for coal-fired electricity generation, and we will continue to make progress by addressing emissions from other major emitting sectors.
But as we all know our efforts alone are not enough. On the international stage, Canada has been playing an active role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change since its inception, and has worked constructively with other countries over the past several years to launch the negotiations process on a new international climate change agreement for the future. The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action took another step forward by setting out a negotiating mandate for all countries to develop a single, new, international treaty to include all major emitters, to be implemented by 2020.
While these are significant aims, we recognize that a lot of work still needs to be done.
One direction we're pursuing is taking action where the needs are most pressing and where the resources to act are most limited. As part of our commitment to provide our fair share of fast-start financing, the Government of Canada has contributed $1.2 billion in new and additional climate change financing.
We will be supporting a range of projects and programs in some of the world's neediest and poorest countries. Already these funds have helped to address deforestation and forest degradation and to ensure food security and provide adaptation assistance.
Here at home, we're continuing to press forward in our work towards achieving this country's full potential as a clean energy superpower. We're building the appropriate framework, and we're building it on environmental regulations and standards that are based on clear and transparent policies and practices.
We're also continuing to make great progress in ensuring that future growth of the oil sands will be done in a responsible and a sustainable manner.
With the release of our integrated environment monitoring plan for the oil sands last July, we outlined what we needed to have and what we needed to do in order to develop a world-class monitoring program for this important resource.
As you know, last month, with my colleague from Alberta, Minister McQueen, I announced the joint Canada-Alberta implementation plan for oil sands monitoring. This world-class, science-based program will provide Canadians with the necessary rigorous scientific data to ensure that this resource is developed in an environmentally sustainable manner. Most importantly, this program will make Canada's oil sands monitoring among the best in the world.
Moreover, our clean air agenda will ensure cleaner air and a cleaner environment for all Canadians. Under this agenda, we are identifying emerging air quality issues, measuring and monitoring the status of existing issues, and evaluating solutions.
Under the next phase of Canada's chemicals management plan, we're also working to protect Canadians from harmful chemicals by assessing and regulating a multitude of chemicals used in thousands of industrial and consumer products. This is one of the many ways in which Environment Canada is earning a reputation as a world-class regulator, and we continue to build on that reputation.
Furthermore, the department is carrying out its mandate to protect and conserve Canada's rich and abundant biodiversity. For example, under our new St. Lawrence Plan we are working with Quebec to ensure water quality, protect ecologically sensitive areas and conserve the incredible biodiversity of the St. Lawrence.
Additionally, the department is enhancing our weather and warning service across the country so that it continues to provide Canadians with a comprehensive national weather, water, and climate monitoring system.
As for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Mr. Chair, our focus remains on supporting the Canadian economy and the sustainability of the environment through the delivery of timely, high-quality environmental assessments. Through this practice, we aim to prevent adverse environmental effects, in a cost-effective manner, before project construction begins.
Since we last met, Parks Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary. To date, it has expanded existing parks and created new ones to the point where Canada now protects close to 100 million hectares—about 10% of our entire land mass.
I could talk at length about our accomplishments and our future goals, but I trust l've left you with a clear sense of our direction and our actions.
I would now like to turn, with your permission, to the estimates documents that are before Parliament for consideration.
There are three main documents: the supplementary (B) and (C) estimates for the 2011-12 fiscal, and the main estimates for the 2012-13 fiscal. We'll be looking at these estimates for my portfolio, including Environment Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and Parks Canada.
Let's start with the supplementary (B) estimates, the second request to adjust funding allocations this fiscal year.
For Environment Canada, we're requesting $135.4 million in additional funding. This funding will go largely towards major initiatives such as the clean air regulatory agenda, or CARA III; the chemical management plan; the monitoring and supercomputing, or MSC, infrastructure; phase two of the federal contaminated sites action plan; the federal adaptation program; and clean transportation.
Parks Canada is requesting $30.1 million in additional funding, which includes funding for emergency response to natural disasters and unanticipated health and safety-related capital repairs; the Trans Canada Trail completion and promotion; the War of 1812 horizontal initiative, to support bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812; phase two of the federal contaminated sites action plan; to help Canadians adapt to climate change under Canada's clean air agenda; and grants to the Tulita District Lands Corporation as a step toward completion to the establishment of the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency requested $2.1 million in contributions to fund public participation and to lead aboriginal consultations for environmental assessments of major development projects.
Now let's turn to the supplementary (C) estimates, the final request for adjustments to our funding allocations for this fiscal year.
Environment Canada is not asking for additional funding in these estimates. It is requesting permission to reallocate existing funds within the department. The majority of these funds will be used for significant initiatives such as advancing Canada's international climate change actions, the international climate strategy, and fast-start financing, and conserving ecologically sensitive land.
Mr. Chair, let's turn now to the main estimates, the first request for departmental funding for the next fiscal year. Environment Canada is requesting $972.7 million in these main estimates. This amount represents a $100.6-million increase over last year's main estimates, which is due mainly to program increases for the Clean Air Agenda, Canada's Chemical Management Plan, the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, and Canada's weather services.
These estimates will inform Canada's domestic regulatory approach to greenhouse gas emissions, providing a platform to further engagement with the United States on climate change issues and enhancing Canada's visibility as an international leader in clean energy technology.
They will help to address health and environmental risks posed by harmful chemicals by accelerating the pace of the risk assessment to address the legacy of unassessed substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, by 2020. Also, they will allow the department to continue its work of assessing and remediating contaminated sites through the federal contaminated sites action plan. Lastly, they will give Environment Canada the leverage to improve Canada's weather services by ensuring the integrity of the Government of Canada's weather and environmental supercomputer for the Meteorological Service of Canada.
As for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the 2012-13 main estimates propose a net decrease of $13 million in comparison to the agency's 2011-12 main estimates. This would bring the total 2012-13 budget to $17 million. This decrease, as most of you know, is largely attributable to the sunsetting of the Major Projects Management Office—MPMO—initiative and aboriginal consultation. These initiatives will be reviewed as part of the normal process for funds that have sunsetted, which will inform the government's decision on its renewal.
Moving forward to the 2012-13 main estimates for Parks Canada, the request totals $648.2 million. This reflects a net decrease of $42.3 million from the 2011-12 main estimates. The major changes in funding compared to the previous year represent reductions in funding needs for the planned completion of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park, for the transfer of e-mail, data centre, and network services to Shared Services Canada, and the funding received to implement the Species at Risk Act.
Increases, on the other hand, will largely go towards emergency responses to natural disasters, federal contaminated sites, and to support additional building of the Trans-Canada Trail.
Mr. Chair, this highlights just some of the objectives that these estimates will support in the department's work to provide Canadians with a clean, safe, and sustainable environment.
I would again like to thank you and this committee for your time today, Mr. Chair, and I would be happy to take your questions at this time.