Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members. Good morning.
Good morning, everyone.
Mr. Chair, I will start by expressing my sincere appreciation to the committee for the invitation to appear here once again to discuss the supplementary estimates (C) for fiscal 2012-13 and the main estimates for 2013-14.
As you said, joining me at the table this morning are my deputy minister, the Deputy Minister of Environment Canada, Bob Hamilton; Alan Latourelle, the CEO of Parks Canada; and Elaine Feldman, President of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
As usual, I will begin with a brief statement and after that, I would be pleased to answer any questions that honourable members may have of me.
As you know, time has passed very quickly over the past couple of years since I took over my role as Canada's Minister of the Environment. During this time I have been privileged to see many of the proposals presented in these estimates come full circle as they develop into successful initiatives and grow into achievements for our environment and our economy.
Environment Canada's job, of course, is to help ensure Canadians have a clean, safe, and sustainable environment. The department achieves these goals largely through its collaborative work to develop, monitor, and enforce effective federal regulations and legislation. It is proceeding in a consistent, systematic, science-based manner, taking responsible actions across a range of issues, from climate change, to air and water quality, to the conservation of ecosystems, and to protecting Canadians from harmful chemicals.
The department delivers important services to Canadians 24 hours a day, every day. On average, the department issues 1.5 million public forecasts every year. It conducts more than 8,600 inspections and over 340 prosecutions for violations of environmental laws. It also publishes over 700 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
In terms of protected areas, Canada now protects almost 10% of our land mass, which means our nation is about 60% of the way to meeting the 2010 international target of protecting 17% of our land mass in protected areas. The Government of Canada is helping our nation to achieve this target. Environment Canada's collaborations with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and with other organizations have resulted in the protection of more than 338,000 hectares, including habitat for 126 species at risk. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has taken actions that will add almost 150,000 square kilometres to Parks Canada's network of protected areas, which is a 53% increase.
Working in collaboration with the United States, we enhanced and renewed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, reinforcing ongoing efforts to deal with harmful algae, toxic chemicals and discharges from vessels using the lakes. We also added new provisions addressing issues such as aquatic invasive species, habitat degradation and the effects of climate change.
Our action plan for clean water is enabling large-scale investments to ensure clean water for Canadians. Last year, we contributed $46.3 million toward the cleanup of Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour and we launched the Great Lakes nutrient initiative, investing $16 million over four years to address the re-emergence of toxic and nuisance algae caused by excessive phosphorous discharges to Lake Erie.
On the international stage, we are focused on achieving a new, legally binding global agreement on climate change that covers all major emitters. We are honouring our United Nations commitments under the Copenhagen accord by implementing a domestic regulatory plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are also showing leadership, I believe, in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to address short-lived climate pollutants.
We are advancing on our sector-by-sector regulatory approach at home, putting forward greenhouse gas regulations to significantly reduce emissions from cars and light trucks, heavy duty vehicles, and coal-fired electricity.
Our actions, combined with provincial, territorial, and business efforts, are projected to bring Canada halfway to achieving our Copenhagen target of a 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. Moving forward, we're working towards achieving additional reductions from other sectors of the economy, focusing now on the oil and gas sector.
Our work is not done by any means, but these achievements I believe make it clear that we are on the right track. These estimates before us today signal continued efforts to continue that progress. As the chair said, today we're discussing two sets of estimates: the supplementary estimates (C) for fiscal 2012-13 and the main estimates for fiscal 2013-14.
The 2012-13 supplementary estimates (C) are the last set of budget adjustments to Environment Canada's reference levels for fiscal 2012-13.
In these estimates, Environment Canada is requesting $24 million in funding for the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help the organization continue its important work to secure ecologically sensitive lands and to protect diverse ecosystems.
The department is also asking for $21.3 million for grants and contributions. This includes more than $21 million for the international climate change strategy 2012 fast-start financing. It includes a request for just over $511,000 to renew the Lake Simcoe initiative program, which sunset in March 2012. This funding will allow for continued progress on addressing Lake Simcoe water quality. The supplementary estimates also include a reduction of $12.5 million introduced in budget 2012 savings measures.
For supplementary estimates (C) 2012-13, Parks Canada is requesting $3.9 million in funding for two items. This includes $2.1 million for the development of the Rouge National Urban Park and $1.8 million in funding for Canada's fast-start financing commitments under the Copenhagen Accord. These spending requests are offset by savings that Parks Canada identified in budget 2012.
Now let's move forward to the main estimates for Environment Canada for fiscal 2013-14. The net amount for the 2013-14 main estimates works out to $959.4 million, which is 1.4% or $13.3 million less when compared to last year's main estimates.
The major changes reflected in these estimates are proposed savings of $31.5 million that follow up on savings measures announced in Budget 2012 and the sunsetting of $1.6 million for the Renewable Fuels Regulations.
The estimates also request $20.8 million in renewal funding for three programs: $12.5 million to renew the Species at Risk Act program; $4.2 million to renew the Lake Winnipeg Basin initiative; and $4.1 million to go towards implementation of the Great Lakes nutrient Initiative.
For Parks Canada, its 2013-14 main estimates total $597 million, which is a $51.2-million decrease from last fiscal year's main estimates. Parks Canada identified $19.7 million in savings as part of budget 2012. This difference also includes a $15-million reduction from last year due to work that has been completed on the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park.
The 2013-14 main estimates for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency total $31 million, which is $14 million more than the $17 million in its main estimates last fiscal. The difference reflects funding that was originally slated to sunset but was renewed under budget 2012, which is as follows: $7.4 million to enable efficient and effective regulatory reviews of major resource projects and advance government-wide efforts to modernize the regulatory system for major resource projects, as well as $6.6 million to support consultations with aboriginal peoples during environmental assessments of major development projects.
Mr. Chair, this highlights some of the objectives that these estimates will support in the portfolio's work to provide Canadians with a clean, safe, and sustainable environment.
I would like to thank you, Mr. Chair. Welcome to the chair of this committee.
I'd be happy to take questions at this time.