This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #8 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was projects.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

John Bennett  Executive Director, Sierra Club of Canada
Jennifer Jackson  Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association
Sandra Schwartz  Vice-President, Policy Advocacy, Canadian Electricity Association
Terry Toner  Representative, Canadian Electricity Association, and Director, Environmental Services, Nova Scotia Power Inc.

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association

Jennifer Jackson

Yes. That came from the senior staff person responsible for the project, who is still working for Halifax Water.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

I assume that delay had business implications, but that project eventually went through. Are you aware of any projects of a similar nature that have been cancelled because of the additional cost and delay attributable to assessments?

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association

Jennifer Jackson

I'm not aware of any cancellations; however, there have been considerable delays to projects.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

And I assume that the people who are carrying out these projects, the workers and so on, simply don't have a job until the project is actually approved and permitted to go ahead. Is that correct?

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association

Jennifer Jackson

It depends on who's been contracted to do the work, whether it's public sector or private sector firms or consulting firms.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

All right.

By the way, do you know how many employees your sector has?

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association

Jennifer Jackson

No, I don't.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Ms. Schwartz, do you know how many employees there are in your sector, the people you represent?

11:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Policy Advocacy, Canadian Electricity Association

Sandra Schwartz

I'm looking to my colleague over here to answer that question.

It's hundreds of thousands. Thank you, John.

One point I do want to make on the cost side—it is important in our sector, and I think probably Ms. Jackson would echo this in the municipal waste water sector as well—is that the costs are ultimately borne by the ratepayer. These are not necessarily costs that are borne by companies themselves. Although initially they are, they are still--

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

They're passed on.

11:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Policy Advocacy, Canadian Electricity Association

Sandra Schwartz

They're passed on with increased electricity rates.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Thank you.

Do I have any time left, Mr.Chair?

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

You have about 45 seconds.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

In that case, I'll just defer to the next speaker.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Thank you.

The next speaker is Madame St-Denis.

You have seven minutes.

November 1st, 2011 / 11:40 a.m.

NDP

Lise St-Denis NDP Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

My first question is for Mr. Bennett.

Could environmental rights be included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for instance in conjunction with other explicit human rights such as the right to life and personal security?

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

A point of order, Mr. Chair.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Ms. Rempel, on a point of order.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

What is the relevancy to the scope of the study?

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

I would encourage Madame St-Denis to ensure that the questions are germane to the discussion and the review of the CEAA.

Thank you.

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Sierra Club of Canada

Dr. John Bennett

I would think it's absolutely germane to the discussion. Yes, it should be a right; it should be enshrined that we are not going to use this country without protecting the environment, so that we can pass it on to our children and our grandchildren. We support that.

We have supported efforts to have a Canadian environmental bill of rights drafted and presented. We'd like to see it in the Constitution as well.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Lise St-Denis NDP Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Ms. Jackson, do you feel the preliminary assessments performed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act are sufficiently stringent, if only with respect to documenting harmful effects on drinking water in Canada, on its quality and accessibility?

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association

Jennifer Jackson

No, I think the act itself is accessible and transparent. I believe public participation in the act may or may not be encouraged, depending on which way a project is screened, whether it's just a screening process or whether it goes through to a comprehensive study or has been referred for mediation. So it depends on the different project and the amount of public scrutiny it gets. But in theory, all of the process should be equally accessible to the public, and we haven't heard of any complaints regarding the public as to this process.

As I've already said, we represent our members who are dealing with the process and hiring consultants to get their project through the environmental assessment, whether it be federal or provincial or both.

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Lise St-Denis NDP Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Your association has positions on many topics, both normative and technical ones. Could you walk us through the process that allows you to determine your positions, and the effect they may have on private sector decisions on industrial matters?

11:45 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association

Jennifer Jackson

We consult with our members. We have various technical committees. We didn't have a lot of time to consult for this appearance, but we did put out a general notice to all the members of our technical committees asking them to provide their input. We also sat down with a prominent environmental assessment practitioner from a local engineering firm and asked about the firm's experience, because they represent municipal water, waste water, and transportation projects locally, and asked them for their input, because we only had a couple of days to come up with our presentation. And then we also reviewed some of the information that we could find online through other parties who were likely to appear today and next week.