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Evidence of meeting #33 for Finance in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was infrastructure.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mark McQueen  Board Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wellington Financial, Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
John Gamble  President, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies
Susie Grynol  Vice-President, Policy and Public Affairs, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies
Claude Lajeunesse  President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada
Robert Simonds  President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs
Geoff Smith  Director, Governement Relations, Canadian Electricity Association
Richard Rémillard  Executive Director, Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
Jayson Myers  President and Chief Executive Officer, National Office, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Michel Arnold  Executive Director, Option consommateurs
Anu Bose  Head, Ottawa Office, Option consommateurs
Vaughan Dowie  Executive Head of Public Affairs, McGill University
Mark Cohon  Commissioner, Canadian Football League, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival
Chris Rudge  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival
Michael Clemons  Representative, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival
Barbara Cameron  Associate Professor, York University, Centre for Feminist Research
Kathleen Lahey  Faculty of Law, Queens University, Centre for Feminist Research
Jean-Michel Laurin  Vice-President, Global Business Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Sandra Crocker  Assistant Vice-Principal, Research and International Affairs, McGill University

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Welcome. I've certainly appreciated all of your presentations today.

My first question is for Chief Simonds.

I am a former mayor of a very small community with a volunteer firefighting department. I noted that in your executive summary you state, “Currently, most Volunteer Fire Departments are experiencing serious challenges in recruiting and retaining valuable members.” It was my experience that often the issue was retaining members because they didn't often have the opportunity to use their skills. In a small rural community, often they were fighting field fires and working with their RMs.

One of the questions I have for you is on your first recommendation, which is that the grant would be given to all volunteer firefighters who provide at least 200 hours of service. That would not include the time they spend in training and keeping up those skills. Is that correct?

4:40 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Robert Simonds

Mr. Chair, that's an excellent question. I thank Ms. Block for bringing that forward.

The compilation of that 200 hours includes emergency response, public education initiatives, training initiatives, and the care and maintenance of the equipment within the fire service. It is broad enough so that it catches the broad activities of the volunteers with respect to their contribution to the community.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Thank you.

My second question is for Mr. Smith.

As you are probably very aware, a large source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada is road transportation, at nearly 30%, but the potential for reduction in kilometres travelled by Canadians is limited, obviously, because of our geography, our demographics, and often our urban design. While there is no silver bullet to reduce transportation emissions, one of the most talked about solutions in this area is electric vehicles.

I did have an opportunity this past summer to be in Israel and visit a Better Place. I saw the electric car and the infrastructure that might need to be put in place. I understand there is actually going to be a pilot project--I think it might be in Toronto or Ottawa--with a taxi service.

I guess my question for you is this: assuming that we would proceed with the development of electric vehicles in the next decade, what would be the impact on the electricity system in Canada?

4:40 p.m.

Director, Governement Relations, Canadian Electricity Association

Geoff Smith

Thank you. That's an excellent question.

I think it's an issue that our sector often wrestles with, and it's not out of reluctance. It's essentially the electrification of other sectors in order to be cleaner or more environmentally friendly, and transportation is obviously one, in reference to electric vehicles, that is at the top of that list. Initially in that sense, I think, if we are even going to do electric vehicles and whatnot, you have to look at the core issue of increased demand pretty much right out of the gate.

You have people like the Premier of Ontario speculating that 5% of all cars would be electric by 2020. On the other hand, you have recent comments that if 10% of the people in Toronto were to plug in a car after work, there could be some real challenges there. So it becomes an issue of addressing.... Our core issue, which is the infrastructure challenge in this issue, primarily would be distribution and transmission systems.

Once you've gotten to that point, I think the question becomes one of how you make that work. It's an issue of technology. I would bring that back to the energy storage issue and our proposal for a grant program that I think would allow you to get to the point where you can then plug in cars and do all those things you would have to do to make it work. But essentially it would be in order to meet that demand with our core infrastructure challenge, and you can then go from there and figure it out.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Thank you.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

You have one minute.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

One minute? Then my question is for Mr. Gamble or Ms. Grynol. I just want to ask a quick question.

You said that there are great complexities in meeting the deadlines that were set. I want to hear from your industry what the impacts of this stimulus fund were on your industry in terms of all of the projects that perhaps needed to have your services at the front end.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll hear a very brief response.

4:45 p.m.

President, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies

John Gamble

It was certainly helpful to our industry. It was probably more helpful to the downstream industries, such as the construction, the trades, and the operating and maintenance people who operate the facilities.

While there were some complexities with it around the deadline, I would have to say in fairness to the government that on balance it was a successful program, given the scope the government had established for it. We're just hoping we can get you to look longer term at a more sustainable plan.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll go to Mr. Pacetti, please.

October 6th, 2010 / 4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for appearing.

Mr. Simonds, I'm not sure whether this question was asked. When I chaired this committee, we wrote a report on wanting to give the firemen this $3,000 benefit or deduction, and the contingent issue with the Finance officials was how to calculate the 200 hours of service—would it be when you're in the firehouse playing cards?

I know I've asked this question before, but how do you plan to resolve this issue?

4:45 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Robert Simonds

Mr. Chair, in anticipation of the interest of this committee and our parliamentarians, I can offer that we have a very robust method by which to monitor and to audit this function. We have our town and village councils and mayors, who have a responsibility with their fire chiefs to ensure that accurate record-keeping is maintained. They are further augmented by the roles and responsibilities of the provincial fire marshals and fire commissioners, who also have the ability to do audits.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

So do you have something in mind whereby it will be pre-simplified and able to be verified? You know that you'll be audited more quickly than you'll be able to get a benefit. It could end up costing you more than the actual benefit.

4:45 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Robert Simonds

An overarching consideration here is the requirement to maintain accurate logs with respect to workers' compensation. Whether you are participating in any of the core functions of the fire service—whether it be emergency response, public education, training, or what have you—it's an overwhelming responsibility of those fire chiefs to maintain these records for workers' compensation. That is one of the pillars of that responsibility, and it would satisfy this interest.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

I don't mean to interrupt you, but we have limited time.

Are the logs or the records that you keep or plan to maintain going to be okay with the Finance officials, according to your discussion with Finance?

4:45 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Robert Simonds

The Finance officials have been very open in our dialogue with them. They recognize the integrity of the fire service across the country and have every confidence that we will adhere to those requirements.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Great. Thanks.

Mr. Lajeunesse, you have mentioned the figure of $12 billion several times today. Does that figure come directly from the amount of, I think, $34 billion, or is it $12 billion in economic spinoffs?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Claude Lajeunesse

The $12 billion represents contracts that could be done here in Canada. We must remember the advantage of the program: Canadians, Canadian companies and their employees and so on will have access to the entire fleet, which is supposed to be 5,000 aircraft. That means that they will eventually have access to $12 billion from a possible total of about $350 billion. That is a share that Canada can easily get. Once again, I repeat that I am convinced of it. That is what our companies tell us.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

It is $12 billion out of $305 billion.

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Claude Lajeunesse

It is $12 billion out of about $300 billion.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

What proportion of those $12 billion could go to your members in Quebec?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Claude Lajeunesse

They will be competing against others like everyone else. I cannot tell you how it will be distributed. At the moment, I know that we say that about half the industry is in Quebec, but there are also competitors in British Columbia, in the Atlantic provinces, in Ontario and so on. The benefits could go to companies anywhere in the country.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Thank you.

Mr. McQueen, in your brief, you're asking that the research and development credit program be enhanced so that each dollar of qualifying expenses leads to $1.50 in credit. How did you calculate that?

4:50 p.m.

Board Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wellington Financial, Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association

Mark McQueen

We're going to do that--

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Is that not what is happening now?