Evidence of meeting #118 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was question.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen Lucas  Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment
Daniel Watson  Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency
Ron Hallman  President, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

12:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

In fact, we work closely with the provinces and territories, while respecting their jurisdictions. For example, with respect to reducing and eliminating carbon emissions in electricity generation, we have an equivalency agreement with Nova Scotia. We are also working with other provinces, including Saskatchewan.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

I understand that these aren't transfers to the provinces.

My next question will also be for you.

The federal contaminated site action plan was put in place in 2005 for a period of 15 years. We have received information that indicated that the department is on track to meet its objectives.

Could you explain why we need more funding for this program in 2018-19? I know my question is quite specific. Why are we on track to achieve the objectives?

I think we could give priority to other issues, to other aspects related to sustainable environment development. Why are we paying special attention to this program?

12:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

As you mentioned, we have a long-term commitment to removing contaminated soil. As for the 2018-19 fiscal year, this includes increased funding for cleaning up the Pacific Environmental Centre site in Vancouver.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Thank you.

Now, here is the burning question. The Department of the Environment has three institutions, if you will.

Do you have the means to meet your objectives?

If we give you additional funding of $4.5 billion, will we make it easier, even faster, to reach the targets that we, the Conservatives, established?

12:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

The government has decided to invest in our department and other departments, including Infrastructure Canada, to help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We can talk, for example, about green infrastructure or about public transit programs, about the unprecedented investment of $1.3 billion to protect nature.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

What would the situation be if you had $4.5 billion in additional funding?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

I hate to do this, but we are over. I know that you're trying to squeeze in another round over there, so I don't want to stop that from happening.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

I'm sorry, Madam Chair.

Thank you.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

It's okay. I'm just trying to mind your interests over there.

Mr. Rogers, go ahead.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Thank you, Madam Chair, and thanks, panel, for being here.

In 2017, the Government of Canada announced the $2-billion low-carbon economy fund. To date, authorities have been sought in the supplementary estimates 2017-18 to allocate $115 million to the leadership fund component of that fund.

Can you update the committee on the state of the discussions with the provinces and the territories regarding the fund's bilateral funding agreements?

June 5th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

That work has proceeded significantly. A number of announcements were made last December and some subsequent to that. In terms of the partnership agreements and projects with provinces and territories, we now have those projects concluded plus signed bilateral agreements with Ontario, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Alberta, and British Columbia. We have agreements in principle just waiting to be signed with Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, NWT, and the Yukon. We're making significant progress in terms of concluding that agreement with Quebec. Manitoba signed on to the pan-Canadian framework only in February, and we're having very good discussions with them towards that.

Therefore, there's very significant progress in partnership with the provinces and territories that is resulting in a number of programs across the country, in particular in the area of energy efficiency, stored carbon in forests, and support for reducing emissions in the transportation sector.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

How close are we to an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador?

12:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

My understanding is that the agreement has been concluded in principle, and we're just waiting for signature of it.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

How do you ensure that the funds that will be transferred to the provinces are spent in a way that supports the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change?

12:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

In addition to the projects being proposed by the provinces and undergoing rigorous review, including expert review of emission reduction calculations, we have the strong accountability through the transfer payments through the provinces to ensure that the funds are utilized as intended and work through partnership committees with each province and territory to oversee the implementation of the programs. It's a great example of partnership, respecting the leadership of provinces and territories and working closely with the Government of Canada.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

I appreciate that, Madam Chair. That's it for me.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Is there anyone else? You still have time.

Go ahead then, Mr. Amos.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I'd like our officials to take us back to 2012 and the budget bill, which incorporated, holus-bolus, a new environmental assessment law.

What officials testified before any standing committee at that time?

12:45 p.m.

President, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Ron Hallman

I would simply note that it's before my time at the agency, so I don't have that at the tip of my tongue to answer. I could provide one later if that's the committee's desire, or perhaps others might have...?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I believe Deputy Minister Lucas was with NRCan in a senior position at the time. Perhaps he recalls. If not, I would accept a written response to that question, because I think it is in the public interest. We've had significant discussions with our counterparts opposite on the apparent democratic sham of a process around Bill C-69. I would like to make sure that the record is clear as to what process is involved with Bill C-69 and what the process was involving the budget bill—I believe it was Bill C-38 at the time.

12:45 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Stephen Lucas

As Ron indicated, in terms of specific witness testimony, we'd be happy to provide that.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Okay. Thank you.

I'd like to return to Mr. Watson around the issue of the building-out of the indigenous guardians program. What has been the nature of engagement of indigenous peoples in the development of this program? Where have there been points of friction, if any, in this process?

12:45 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency

Daniel Watson

Very quickly, in the case of the program that was announced in last year's budget, that was actually developed by indigenous people, so it was a proposal that was brought to government on that front. We've been working very closely on the administrative end of that. I think it's fair to say that there are no administrative conversations about government programs that go exactly the way you wished they would. When you come from outside government, you always wish that it will be faster and easier.

However, we are working hard to make sure that the money actually gets delivered for the purposes for which it was required, because it's a very important purpose. What is common there, though, is that everybody wants to see it succeed. Everybody wants to make sure that youth contribute a significant amount to this. Everybody wants to make sure that the elders, who are a source of enormous wisdom and knowledge, have the opportunity to pass that on to the youth, who will be a part of this process.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Thank you, Mr. Watson.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Excellent.

Madam Kusie.