Evidence of meeting #6 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was money.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Carol Najm  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services and Finance Branch, Department of the Environment
Christine Hogan  Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment
Matt Jones  Assistant Deputy Minister, Pan-Canadian Framework Implementation Office, Department of the Environment
Niall O'Dea  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment
John Moffet  Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection Branch, Department of the Environment
Annie Boyer  Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Resources Management Branch, Parks Canada Agency
Darlene Upton  Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation, Parks Canada Agency
Terence Hubbard  Vice-President, Operations Sector, Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Nancy Hamzawi  Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Technology Branch, Department of the Environment
Diane Campbell  Assistant Deputy Minister, Meteorological Service of Canada, Department of the Environment
Michael Nadler  Vice-President, External Relations and Visitor Experience, Parks Canada Agency

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you, Madam Collins. You have to be short and swift with your questions.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

I will follow up.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you very much, Minister, for being here.

The department officials will be staying for the next hour.

I'll suspend the meeting for a few minutes.

9:52 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Welcome, everyone.

We have before us the departmental officials. From the Department of the Environment, we have Mr. Matt Jones, the ADM of the pan-Canadian framework implementation office; John Moffet, ADM of the environmental protection branch; and Carol Najm, assistant deputy minister, corporate services and finance.

From the Impact Assessment Agency, we are joined by Terence Hubbard and Brent Parker.

From Parks Canada, we have Michael Nadler, Darlene Upton and Annie Boyer.

Are there any opening remarks?

March 12th, 2020 / 9:52 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services and Finance Branch, Department of the Environment

Carol Najm

We do not have opening remarks.

9:52 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Perfect, so that way—

9:52 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

9:52 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

No, no, no. That allows the members to ask more questions.

There's a number of new members on the committee. I've already advised them to frame their questions the right way and if it is not in the estimates or in the minister's speech, I will try to curtail them.

With that, Mr. Aitchison, you have six minutes.

9:52 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Aitchison Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to all of you for being here.

If I had had the opportunity with the minister, I was going to focus on some of his comments related to clean tech and some of the work that's going on all across the industrial sector, not just to capture carbon but also to develop ways to generally reduce carbon output, for example. I do see it as a primary area where we can really make some dramatic improvements in our overall footprint as a nation.

Frankly, I think it's a more effective tool, and it's certainly a little easier on rural Canadians and Canadians who are at the lower end of the income scale in particular. I think often about the many people who live in my riding, which a lot of people think is just a playground for the rich and famous, but the people who live and work there make about 20% less in family income than the median in Ontario. There are people who really struggle day to day and month to month. They're not living lavishly; they're just trying to get to work. I've always struggled with a carbon tax for those folks. I understand that maybe in other places where there are other options, it's not as big an issue.

What I wanted to do though was to drill down into the programs that speak directly to this whole business of clean tech, this thoughtful approach that we're talking about. As I look through the supplementary estimates, I see that grants and contributions are almost $1 billion in this ministry, $791 million. A lot of those are contributions to agencies and international groups and that kind of stuff.

I'm wondering if in fact there are.... I guess there must be other ministries that are specifically focusing on incentivizing industry, and assisting industry and new businesses that are creating these alternative energies. How much money is the government, overall, across ministries.... Where can we find out how much we're actually doing to create these new opportunities?

9:55 a.m.

Matt Jones Assistant Deputy Minister, Pan-Canadian Framework Implementation Office, Department of the Environment

Yes, it's a fundamental question in terms of how we're going to address the impacts of climate change and specifically emissions, an important piece of the puzzle. One of the four pillars of the PCF is advancing clean technology. A whole collection of programs has emerged to advance clean technologies. It's the full spectrum, from research at Sustainable Development Technology Canada, for example, to an increased emphasis on project demonstration, deployment and ideally export. There are new programs. In terms of where you can find more details, these are in different departments, including ISED and NRCan, but also Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada under the ISED portfolio.

We also do a synthesis report annually on the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework. It includes federal and provincial and territorial measures over the span of a year. We're about to release the third of those. The other two are online. They go program by program, initiative by initiative.

Related to the estimates here, the low-carbon economy fund that is referenced invests directly with provinces and programs on deploying technologies or directly with industry. There are large and small components of that. There is a small business component and a bigger business component.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Aitchison Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Is there a report somewhere that you can send me that shows me a little more detail on some of those investments?

9:55 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Pan-Canadian Framework Implementation Office, Department of the Environment

Matt Jones

Certainly. We'd be happy to provide the clerk with the link to that or a copy.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Aitchison Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Thank you.

Still on this whole business of contributions and grants and the $791 million, there are lots of different things here. I wouldn't begin to understand what all of them are.

Just as an example, I look at Nature Conservancy of Canada, which back in 2014-15 got about $8.8 million and then nothing. Then, of course, grants in support of the natural areas conservation program got money and it continued to grow.

I'm wondering if you can give some specific examples, in maybe just that category, of what specifically that money was for, what kinds of programs were supported, and what measurements were used to determine whether they were successful in terms of achieving targets, specifically in terms of reducing our footprint.

9:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Give a 30-second answer, please.

9:55 a.m.

Niall O'Dea Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment

Good morning. I'm Niall O'Dea with the Canadian wildlife service.

In response to the question around the natural heritage conservation program, that is actually a successor to the natural areas conservation program, the previous NCC funding. It's a $100-million program over four years. It now represents a consortium program between the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Canada's land trust community. That's why the structure of the expenditures has changed. The targets are for them to collectively achieve 200,000 hectares of private lands protection through “willing buyer, willing seller” arrangements over the course of those next four years.

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you.

Mr. Baker, are you sharing time with Mr. Longfield?

10 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

That's correct.

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Fair enough. Do you want a three-minute warning?

10 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

That would be wonderful. Thank you, Chair.

I want to delve a little deeper into something I asked the minister about when he was here.

In the supplementary estimates, we have allocations for the climate action incentive fund, which is funding that flows to people, to everyday folks. It comes from revenues that are collected through the price on pollution. When I speak with my constituents in Etobicoke Centre, sometimes there's a little bit of confusion about how this all works, such as, if they're getting money back, where that is coming from, and how does that actually help us tackle climate change. Perhaps you could explain how we impose a price on pollution, how that money flows, how it comes back to folks and how it's helping to tackle climate change.

10 a.m.

John Moffet Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection Branch, Department of the Environment

Maybe I'll start.

First of all, good morning from Burnhamthorpe and Kipling, where I was born.

10 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Wonderful.

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection Branch, Department of the Environment

John Moffet

The government committed to return all money raised through the federal carbon price back to the jurisdiction of origin. We do that in two ways.

One is through the CAIF, which represents the funds raised by the carbon price on fuel. Approximately 90% of that money goes directly to households in the form of an annual cheque. The remaining 10% is then provided through programs by my colleague Mr. Jones, and they're focused on supporting small businesses, non-profit organizations, the MUSH sector—municipalities, universities....

Another set of revenue, which we will see but have not yet seen, is compliance payments made by large industry under the large industry component of the carbon price. We have confirmed this money will be returned to the jurisdiction. The government has not yet developed a comprehensive program for that, and we're engaged in discussion with industry about the best way to utilize those funds.

Again, all the money is returned. The programming is focused on reducing emissions. The household return goes directly to the household to use in whatever manner they see fit.

10 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Okay.

The price on pollution is effectively trying to incentivize all of us to pollute less, whether we're consumers or industry, and then we flow the majority of those funds back to citizens.

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection Branch, Department of the Environment

John Moffet

The consumer sees a price impact, the price of fuels increases, but their income effect is made whole. The majority of people are made whole. There's no income effect so the basic incentive is use less fuel and you'll have more money because your income hasn't changed.

10 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you.