Evidence of meeting #111 for Finance in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was innovation.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sheila Taylor  As an Individual
Tyrone McKenzie  As an Individual
Angela Howell  As an Individual
Viktoriya Kalchenko  As an Individual
John Root  Executive Director, Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation Inc., Canadian Neutron Initiative Working Group
Ray Bouchard  Chair of the Board, Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative
Darla Lindbjerg  President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
Pamela Schwann  President, Saskatchewan Mining Association
Paul Davidson  President, Universities Canada
Jamie Miley  Senior Strategist, Public Affairs, President's Office, University of Saskatchewan
Rob Norris  Senior Strategist, Research Partnerships, Office of Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan, Canadian Neutron Initiative Working Group
Patrick Pitka  Chief Financial Officer, Ag-West Bio Inc.
Vince Engel  International Vice-President, Western Canada, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
Keith Moen  Executive Director, North Saskatoon Business Association
John Hopkins  Chief Executive Officer, Regina and District Chamber of Commerce
Dennis Johnson  Vice-President, Strategy and Business Development, Polytechnics Canada
Sean Wallace  Director, Board Representative, Economic Development of Tisdale, Saskatchewan Economic Development Association
Michael Gorniak  Partner, Thomson Jaspar and Associates
Brenda Wasylow  Past Chair, North Saskatoon Business Association
Braden Turnquist  Partner, Thomson Jaspar and Associates
Kevin Rogers  Director, Applied Research and Innovation, Polytechnics Canada
Chuck Rudder  Business Manager, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Suzie Cadieux
Terry Youzwa  As an Individual

8:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I will call this meeting to order.

I think everyone knows why we're here. It's the pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2018 budget.

Before we get to the witnesses on the panel, we have a 15-minute session—I don't think it will be quite that long—for open mike. We also have a half an hour session at the end of the official witnesses for what we call open mike, which is where people can take a minute to state what's on their minds, and what they think the Standing Committee on Finance should be dealing with.

I'll ask each one when they come up whether they represent themselves as an individual or as an organization.

Sheila Taylor, you can grab one microphone, and Tyrone McKenzie can grab the other.

Let's try to keep it to a couple of minutes.

8:50 a.m.

Sheila Taylor As an Individual

Thank you very much

My name is Sheila Taylor. I'm on the executive of the Saskatoon branch of the National Association of Federal Retirees. As you see, when you retire, the titles don't get any shorter.

In 1996 there was a book published called The Pig and the Python: How to Prosper from the Aging Baby Boom . It described the effect baby boomers are having as they moved through the track of the python. Well, we're nearing the end, but we're still alive and kicking.

On that note, I believe the government should appoint a minister responsible for seniors. We need to see our face represented in Parliament to make sure public policy decisions are always viewed with a seniors lens.

For budget 2018, in addition to the all-important retirement security, I believe the federal government should lead a national seniors strategy. It should build on home care and seniors housing investments that have been made so far. The strategy needs to include a national palliative and end-of-life care strategy, and better pharmacare for seniors. Medical marijuana is prohibitively expensive, and I speak from personal experience.

The strategy must also continue to tackle infrastructure investments with age-friendly communities, and universal design standards in mind to ensure that seniors' residential needs are met. Because it is coming.

We all know that death is inevitable and we keep hoping it will make an exception in our case, but it isn't going to. These actions, we believe, will lead to better productivity, and a stronger economy not just for seniors but for their families and all of Canadian society.

Thank you very much.

8:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Sheila.

Tyrone McKenzie.

I would just point out that during the open-mike sessions we do not have questions. We're trying to get as many people on, so they get their points of view on the record in order for them to be considered.

Mr. McKenzie.

8:55 a.m.

Tyrone McKenzie As an Individual

Thank you. I'm representing the ONE campaign.

Honourable members, about 130 million girls are out of school. If they were a country, they would be the 10th largest—let that sink in for a moment—behind Russia and just ahead of Mexico.

Canada contributes about 2¢ per Canadian per day to global education. According to the Education Commission, it is indispensable to double our contributions to education if we want to close the 130-million gap, and provide every girl with the opportunity to go to school.

This means that with just 2¢ more, Canada can lead the way. Today, we ask Canada to contribute to the financing of the Global Partnership for Education in 2018 as part of the solution, so it can help millions of girls in the poorest countries get the education they deserve.

I want to close by asking honourable members and the audience, where would we be without our education?

Thank you.

8:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you, Tyrone.

Angela Howell.

8:55 a.m.

Angela Howell As an Individual

My name is Angela Howell and I am a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders Canada.

We ask that in budget 2018, Canada commit to a timetable of predictable annual increases to its international assistance envelope that would bring Canada's development assistance to 0.31% of GNI within this government's first mandate. Canada's current level of development assistance is 0.26% of GNI, and it is the lowest in recent history. While development assistance globally has increased 9% in the past year, according to the OECD, it is disappointing that Canada's own contributions have declined by 4%.

Increasing aid will help Canada achieve sustainable development goals, and it also has an economic connection. Forthcoming research from the Canadian International Development Platform suggests that Canadian exports to countries receiving development assistance tends to be higher than they otherwise might have been without aid.

We hope budget 2018 can correct this downward spending trend so that Canada fulfills its global commitments.

Thank you so much for your time.

8:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you, Angela.

I would just say that last year Engineers Without Borders were at nine out of 10 of the hearings, so congratulations on organization.

Welcome, Viktoriya Kalchenko.

8:55 a.m.

Viktoriya Kalchenko As an Individual

I'm representing Oxfam Canada.

Budgeting and fiscal policy are important tools the government can use to advance gender equality. The government introduced Canada's first-ever gender statement in budget 2017. Now it is time for Canada to take a step further and ensure that the budget-making process itself actually contributes to greater gender equality.

We call on the government to include more women's rights organizations in the budget process by appointing an advisory council on gender budgeting to advise the Minister of Finance and the parliamentary committee on finance to ensure that at least 15% of witnesses in the pre-budget consultations be from women's rights organizations.

Evidence shows that women's rights organizations are the single most effective means to building better public policy and to better the lives of women, yet they are the most underfunded in Canada and abroad.

We are calling on the government to invest in the success of its feminist international assistance policy by committing more resources to year-to-year increases to Canada's international assistance envelope and to strengthen the women's rights movement here in Canada by investing $100 million annually in the status of women.

Thank you.

8:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Viktoriya.

We're right on time. Imagine that. That's unusual for us.

Turning now to the witnesses who are here for the official submissions, we appreciate you coming. We also appreciate those who were able to send a submission prior to mid-August. We have those on our iPads, so if you see us referring to our iPads, you'll know what that's about. We're looking at your brief to see if you're saying the same thing you said then.

Before we go to the witnesses, because we are on the road, I'll ask each of the members to introduce themselves so you know who you're talking to and where they're from.

I'm Wayne Easter, a member of the Liberal Party from Prince Edward Island.

Michael, do you want to start?

9 a.m.


Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Hello, and thank you for coming.

My name is Michael McLeod. I represent the Northwest Territories, a very big riding, bigger than the countries of Spain and France combined, and I'm the only MP from that riding.

Welcome, everybody.

9 a.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Good morning, everyone.

I'm Francesco Sorbara. I'm on the finance committee and this is my third tour on pre-budget consultations. I'm obviously very happy to be here in Saskatoon, for the first time, I will admit.

I represent the riding right at the top of Toronto, called Toronto—Vaughan. I am one of three MPs from there, but I actually grew up in northern British Columbia, so I do have a tinge of small city urban living.

I'm glad to be here and look forward to your presentations.

9 a.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

My name is Greg Fergus. I am the member for Hull—Aylmer, a riding in Quebec near Ottawa

Unlike my friend, Mr. Sorbara, this is my first time taking part in a cross-country pre-budget consultation, but it is my third time in Saskatoon. I am pleased to be here.

I encourage all of you, especially the witnesses, if you don't have your translation devices, to please get them from the front of the room, because I will be speaking in French for the time that I'm here.

9 a.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Good morning, everyone.

My name is Dan Albas. I am the member of Parliament for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, the sunny Okanagan in British Columbia. I am very happy to be in Saskatoon. It is my first visit as well, and I am very excited to hear about what opportunities you see, as well as what challenges you have.

Thank you for your attendance, and also thank you to those who spoke at the open mike. It's a very Canadian way. You get to hear directly from the public.

9 a.m.


Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

I am Pat Kelly. I am the member of Parliament for Calgary Rocky Ridge. I'm happy to be here this morning, and I look forward to the presentations.

9 a.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Hello, my name is Pierre-Luc Dusseault. I am the member for Sherbrooke, in southeastern Quebec and I am from the NDP.

9 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Welcome, and thank you all.

We'll start with Mr. Huber, executive director of the Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics. Welcome.

9 a.m.

Garth Huber (Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics and Professor, Department of Physics, University of Regina

Thank you.

CINP is the formal organization of the Canadian nuclear physics community, to promote excellence in nuclear research and education. We represent 116 active researchers from coast to coast.

I am here to talk about Canada's fundamental science review, otherwise known as the Naylor report. This is a historic opportunity to reposition Canada as a global leader in research and innovation.

The Naylor report is comprehensive, recommending improvements in government support and oversight structure that would strengthen Canada’s impact in fundamental research and correct many problems to address more than a decade of decline. We commend the government on commissioning the report, because the intellectual infrastructure of Canada is a high priority in need of renewal. The recent appointment of Dr. Mona Nemer as Canada's chief science officer is an important first step in implementing the recommendations of the report, but this does not mean the job is completed.

Canada is losing ground in science and technology, compared to other countries. Over the past 15 years, Canada's research funding as a percentage of GDP has declined from 2% to 1.6%, while that of nearly all other major nations has grown. We have now fallen out of the top 30 nations in research spending, and we are considerably below the OECD average of 2.38%. Furthermore, there has been a shift away from the pursuit of investigator-led research, with a 35% drop in available real resources per researcher. In the handouts you'll get later, there is a plot from the Naylor report showing dramatically this decline in investigator-led research dollars, in constant $2,000.

The single most important recommendation of the Naylor report is that the Government of Canada should increase investment in investigator-led research to address this decline. Again, here I have a table from the report, showing the total budgetary implications of the full implementation of the report, and highlighted in yellow is the single most important item in this report, which is $400 million spread over four years for investigator-led direct project financing.

Why should we do this? Many fields of fundamental research, including the nuclear physics research pursued by CINP members, produce highly qualified personnel. These personnel are trained to design, build, and operate a wide variety of technical experiments and facilities, as well as devise complex algorithms to analyze data or perform detailed mathematical modelling. They have become experts in attacking problems by thinking outside the box, and they help develop the so-called disruptive technologies of tomorrow.

Most of the questions posed in your call would be answered if the Government of Canada were able to increase resources for fundamental research across all disciplines as an investment in the intellectual and innovative infrastructure of this country. This would allow researchers to train more young Canadians to be innovative, and better embed this innovative drive within the fabric of Canadian culture. It is only by increasing investment in Canada's discovery-driven research programs that we will be able to develop the innovative technologies, goods, and services that contribute to our economic prosperity.

If we fail to make these investments as recommended in the report, if we fail to support the next generation of scientists, the future and prosperity of Canada will be in peril, as our country will be stuck with yesterday’s knowledge and technologies, rather than grow with those of the 21st century. By investing in research, we invest in Canada's future.

To finish, we urge the Government of Canada to implement, as soon as possible and at the highest priority, the budgetary recommendations of the Naylor report, which in the long term will help Canadians and Canadian businesses to be more productive and competitive internationally. The future of Canada as a prosperous, innovative country depends on this.

9:05 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Garth.

Turning to the Canadian Neutron Initiative Working Group, we have Mr. Root, executive director, and Mr. Norris, senior strategist, research partnerships. Welcome.

9:05 a.m.

Dr. John Root Executive Director, Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation Inc., Canadian Neutron Initiative Working Group

Thank you very much.

I represent the Canadian Neutron Initiative, a pan-Canadian effort to propose a solution to an urgent policy problem. The initiative is presently supported by nine Canadian organizations and is led by the University of Saskatchewan and McMaster University.

Committee members, Canada needs a complete 21st century scientific tool kit for materials, research, and innovation. To help maintain a clean environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Canadian researchers study and develop materials that are needed to improve wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear plants, and hydroelectric dams, and to store renewable energy for release when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

To help achieve a clean growth economy, Canadian engineers are developing light yet strong alloys for energy efficient planes and cars that can be powered by alternate fuels or batteries.

Canadian engineers are investigating how metals change during service, which helps government and industry manage aging pipelines, naval ships, and railroads to ensure safety and to support cost-effective decision-making on infrastructure renewal.

Canadian scientists are developing materials for diagnosing cancer and fighting cancer. Canadian scientists are developing more resilient crops to strengthen global food security. In all of these examples and many other research areas, Canadians depend on having the right tools to study and improve materials. After all, everything is made of materials. But here's the problem. Canada is about to lose a critical tool, a tool which is essential to the country's clean economy, safety, and health goals because it is an essential tool to advance our knowledge of materials in all the areas I just described.

The tool we are about to lose is neutron beams, with the imminent closure of the NRU reactor at Chalk River. Neutron beams gently probe inside materials and reveal nanoscale materials' details that cannot be seen with other scientific tools and that are important to understand how materials perform.

The value of neutron beams is recognized around the world. Other developed countries have invested $9 billion in capital so far this century in neutron beam facilities to support research on materials. Canadian Bertram Brockhouse was honoured with a Nobel Prize in 1994, recognizing the global social impacts of research with neutron beams, the method he pioneered.

Currently the value of neutron beams is being underscored by 2015 Nobel laureate Art McDonald, who has spoken in support of doing something about this imminent crisis.

In March, Canada will lose access to these irreplaceable tools when the NRU reactor at Chalk River closes. Researchers in over 30 Canadian universities, in government, and industry will be affected. Inaction creates the risk of crippling our ability to apply neutron beams to Canada's innovation agenda. Once lost, this capability will be very difficult to restore.

Our solution will ensure that Canadians can continue to access neutron beams for research, innovation, and development of young people for highly skilled careers. To maintain our capability over the next decade, we must now establish partnership with leading neutron beam facilities worldwide. We will also need to fully exploit our domestic asset, the McMaster nuclear reactor, which will be Canada's most powerful research reactor after NRU has closed. Both upgrading the McMaster reactor and accessing world-class facilities abroad will be needed to maintain and rejuvenate our national capability to apply neutron beams for materials research.

If in the future Canada contemplates investing in a new domestic research reactor for the long term, this rejuvenated community could help Canada maximize that investment by informing the inclusion of neutron beam capabilities that will attract collaborators and place Canada at the forefront of materials research for decades.

The Canadian neutron initiative offers a cost-effective solution to an urgent policy problem. The university-led program we propose will cover Canada's needs for neutron beams for 10 years. It will cost $24 million over the first three years, ramping up to about $19 million per year, less than a fifth of the cost to operate the NRU reactor today, currently stated as more than $100 million per year.

Our solution will keep a critical tool in our scientific tool kit so that Canadians can continue to contribute at the leading edges of clean economic growth, security enhancement, health, and fundamental scientific discovery for years ahead.

Thank you very much for your time.

9:10 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, John.

From Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative, we have Mr. Bouchard.

9:10 a.m.

Ray Bouchard Chair of the Board, Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here with you today.

My name is Ray Bouchard. I am the chair of EMILI, the Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative. I'm also the president and CEO of Enns Brothers, a John Deere dealership based in western Canada.

Enns Brothers is an ag equipment dealership with over 350 employees. We are involved in and supportive of many community-based activities across western Canada. EMILI is one of these.

EMILI is a CEO-led, not-for-profit headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. EMILI's mission is to develop the most advanced and productive ag economy in the world through combining our natural strengths as a country in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and agriculture. Our board consists of business leaders in our community, along with university and college presidents.

EMILI's regional focus is western Canada but with a pan-Canadian impact. We are a broad sector initiative combining over 70 industry and technology partners both in research and talent development as well as incubators, accelerators, associations, government, and academia from across Canada.

We welcome the committee's focus on the topic of productivity and competitiveness, and in particular your focus on what federal government measures would help Canadians and Canadian businesses to be more productive.

Productivity is a topic EMILI has been concerned with since its formation in 2015. This is particularly critical as the world shifts to embrace more automation and artificial intelligence. The opportunity for AI to drive more productive Canadian businesses and more productive Canadians is immense, but so are the risks for our industrial sectors that wait on the sidelines.

The nature of business is changing. Inefficiencies and gaps in production, processing, and markets are being driven out or minimized through the adoption of new technologies and tools.

Amazon's recent purchase of Whole Foods is an example of this in the agrifood sector. No one in the Canadian private sector wants to be the next business or industry to get “Ubered”. We know we can't prevent automation. We need to adapt and lead in this evolution of technology, but we can't do it alone. EMILI believes we need the federal government to support initiatives to allow our agrifood industries to become leaders and not laggards in this evolution of automation. EMILI is focused on the following six measures or actions to improve Canadian talent and business productivity.

First, generate awareness about the changing nature of technology and global business interests, especially in agriculture. This is an industry that is poised for tremendous growth.

Second, create a collaborative framework that connects all sectors of agriculture to technology solutions designed by Canadians. There is much activity in the AI space in Canada, recently enhanced by the additional investments in budget 2017, but these need to be business-led to allow us to move beyond an academic and research focus to an all-inclusive approach. As Leah Olson of Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada has said, the sector is willing and wanting to embrace technology. They need help in identifying who to talk to and what opportunities are available to them in Canada. When Canadian ag companies work with Canadian technology companies, we can both improve productivity at home, create good middle-class jobs, and new goods and services for global markets. We can be the owners of global productivity.

Third, we believe we need to provide funding to de-risk pilot projects, innovation development, and adoption. We need a co-investment model to incent the various sectors to work hand in hand rather than in silos. From a programming perspective, EMILI's commercialization and partnership model has adopted the model of SDTC, which I believe you are familiar with.

Fourth, we need to support IP formation, protection, and freedom to operate, working with AiX out of Ontario to help companies capture some of the $280 billion global IP market and expand global markets in both agri-food and technology products.

Fifth, we believe we need to scale successful candidates through venture. We believe a collaborative government and private sector venture strategy will be a key catalyst for success.

Government needs to adopt the first in and last out venture strategy to drive the Canadian private sector to invest at home. There's lots of money from Canadians that goes abroad. We need to keep these funds in Canada.

Canadian start-ups are left to fend for themselves and seek money from Silicon Valley, inevitably diluting Canadian interests. Venture funds need to be direct investment funds to keep our technology companies here in Canada so they are available to work on the retooling of traditional sectors and deliver on the benefits and productivity gains that are possible. If we lose these companies too early in their innovation growth cycle, the benefits for Canada never materialize.

We have the opportunity now to leverage the advantages we have in agriculture and technology, to be the seller rather than the purchaser of future ag AI innovation. EMILI has designed a $90-million venture fund along with the Province of Manitoba as a sidecar to our main commercialization platform.

Finally, there's working with provinces and territories to train students and existing workforces for future jobs, not just computer programmers but middle-class, digital economy jobs. We can't build an economy based on Ph.D.s. We need to train the retail outlets, processing units, agronomists, managers, and farmers in how to use the new tools to achieve the desired productivity gains. Experiential learning with platforms and retraining are a big part of this.

EMILI's co-investment ask of the federal government is $155 million over five years. This will leverage over $500 million in investments to collectively pursue the above measures, transform the agrifood sector in Canada, keep Canadian technology companies in our economy, improve Canadian productivity, and promote environmental sustainability.

Today, we are working with 18 agricultural companies ready to embrace AI and machine learning through our commercialization platform with many more undertaking internal research on how AI and machine learning can improve productivity of their workers and business lines or help to diversify operations and develop new processes, IP formation and additional product lines.

Canadian agriculture is poised to take the first mover position. Federal investments in the measures EMILI is focused on will enable Canada to become the world's leading producer of ag AI technology. In business, you want to be the producer, not the purchaser. We believe that we have this opportunity in Canada right now.

9:20 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thanks very much, Ray.

I turn now to Ms. Lindbjerg from the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.

9:20 a.m.

Darla Lindbjerg President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce

With the increased globalization of the economy, the term “competitiveness” has become ubiquitous. What does it actually mean? Mostly the term is synonymous with productivity and innovation. This is incorrect as they are three completely separate although interrelated forces that act on our economy.

To truly succeed in today's technology-driven global economy, Canada needs to develop and execute three distinct strategies: one for success in innovation, one for international competitiveness, and one for productivity. While we applaud the federal government's efforts around NAFTA, market access and free flow of products is a top priority. It is a moot point and one we cannot celebrate if our domestic economy erodes due to the policy decisions being put forward through the proposed tax on incorporated businesses across our country.

The tax changes the government has proposed are the most significant tax changes we have seen in 45 years. They have the potential to alter our current tax system in fundamental and negative ways.

I'm here representing over 1,400 businesses in Saskatoon. Over 90% of our members who were polled are against these proposed federal tax changes as they feel there will be significant and far-reaching negative impacts on themselves, their families, and their communities.

These impacts will not only expand across our country but across generations. We cannot be constantly changing the rules of the game, so government has one shot at this. You need to get this right by having a more comprehensive consultation that includes business. The short 75-day consultation period started in the middle of summer. The limited information and the controlled access to round tables are not enough.

These tax changes will affect all private business owners regardless of their level of income, size of business, or conformity with fiscal rules. Many, if not most, business owners will end up paying higher overall tax in the future if these proposals go ahead, sometimes even paying higher tax rates of taxation than other Canadians at the same income level. This has been confirmed by accounting professionals across Canada.

If the government is concerned with the growing number of Canadian-controlled private corporations and is trying to ensure delinquent business owners pay their fair share of taxes, they should be looking at targeted measures, not the broad sweeping changes they have proposed. Many small business owners have indicated that if these rules pass in their current form, they will shut down their businesses and turn to full-time employment, or they will move their businesses out of Canada. This could result in significant job losses in addition to leaving Canada lagging behind other countries in terms of small business ownership statistics.

It isn't fair to target small and medium-sized businesses, and it certainly isn't fair to put in place measures that could cost employees jobs. These changes will ultimately affect productivity, disposable income, and the investment around innovation across our country.

If our government is serious about productivity, innovation, and competitiveness, we urge you to rethink your proposed tax changes to ensure that we grow small businesses across Canada and continue to encourage entrepreneurship, to launch meaningful consultations with the business community to review tax policy without unfairly targeting independent businesses, and to consider, through a royal commission, a comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system with a view towards fairness and simplification for all taxpayers and increasing competitiveness for all businesses.

I want to close by reading one of the many submissions that we received from our members:

“I grew up in Saskatchewan in a working poor single-mother family. I never received a college diploma or university degree. I didn't even finish high school. I started working as soon as I could. I vowed I would never be in the same position I grew up in. I worked non-stop doing various jobs, sometimes in unsafe conditions.

“Sixteen years ago, at the age of 26, I established my first business and invested every cent that I had saved—and not partied away like the majority of my peers—into a franchise operation hoping to purchase myself a stable job. With hard work and dedication, I managed to turn the one business into three small businesses and also operate a company that purchased housing so that my employees could have a safe place to live at a reasonable cost.

“As the owner of these businesses which run 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, I have gone into work at two in the morning to assist with power outages. I have laid in the hospital bed hours after giving birth doing schedules. I have carried my two-day-old baby to work doing fundraising for charities or company supports. I was ineligible for EI and wanted to breastfeed.

“I pay taxes in my business, and I pay personal taxes when I take money from my business to pay for things for my family of four children and a fifth on the way.

“I currently travel to Ontario several times a year and purchase—stockpile—groceries and bottles of water for my ailing father, who has poor well water, has osteoarthritis, and can't carry water bottles or other heavy items.

“Business owners make sacrifices to achieve. I am a leader. I take care of my people. I don't take sick leave. I don't take parental leave. I do take pride. I am not cheating. I am trying to build an example for my family and for others in my community that have given up hope.

“Please consider that changing these tax rules will limit my ability to pass on my achievements to my children. It will limit my ability to spend on extra benefits for my team members. It will limit my ability to expand my business and employ more people. Can you imagine how different my life would have been if I didn't become an entrepreneur, or the lives of my children, or the lives of my team members that I consistently help, or the community organizations I host at no charge in my business?”

Thank you.

9:25 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you, Darla.

I might say that in the last report of the committee, we did recommend a comprehensive review of the tax system to simplify it. I don't think what's proposed is what we thought we were recommending.

We'll go to Ms. Schwann, president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association.

9:30 a.m.

Pamela Schwann President, Saskatchewan Mining Association

Chair, members of the committee, Clerk, fellow witnesses, my name is Pam Schwann, and I am president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association. Bonjour.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear today.

The SMA is the voice of the Saskatchewan exploration and mining industry, representing over 40 member companies and employing over 30,500 people in Saskatchewan. Our mission is to advance a safe, sustainable, and globally competitive mining industry in Saskatchewan that benefits all the residents of the province.

A productive and competitive mining industry, which has underpinned Saskatchewan and Canada's economic successes over generations, can advance Canada's priority commitments of reconciliation with indigenous people, growing the middle class, and developing a lower carbon-intensive economy, all of this while providing revenues to government to support social and infrastructure development across Canada, with the very strong support of the public, as consistently demonstrated by provincial and national surveys, which might be contrary to the perception one gets from social media.

Saskatchewan mines provide over 30% of the world's annual potash consumption, with the world's two highest grade and largest uranium mines providing over 22% of global annual uranium production. Proportionally, mining is the largest private sector employer of indigenous people in Saskatchewan, and has been for over two decades. In northern Saskatchewan the mining operations provide much-needed high-quality and high-paying jobs, with indigenous peoples comprising approximately 48% of the workforce, which is about 1,400 people in northern Saskatchewan, with a direct annual payroll in 2016 of $102 million.

Additionally, indigenous-owned suppliers in northern mines provided over $316 million in goods and services to northern mines in 2016 alone. Since 1991, northern mine operations have paid $7.1 billion to northern employers and northern goods and services suppliers.

I want to repeat that northern Saskatchewan is a severely economically disadvantaged region of the country, very similar to areas of the Northwest Territories, where mining provides very valued employment and business opportunities that can be leveraged to other industries.

We believe mining can advance the government's commitments to the indigenous peoples, middle class, and the lower carbon-intensive economy by the following five recommendations: first, improving the regulatory framework to enable sustainable resource development, particularly with respect to the ongoing environmental assessment reviews and species at risk legislation; second, investing in the socio-economic capacity of indigenous communities; third, incentivizing investment through taxation tools; fourth, enhancing Saskatchewan's and Canada's trade and investment competitiveness; and fifth, promoting the role of Canadian clean energy in a low-carbon economy.

I want to go into some specifics of the first two recommendations, time permitting.

With respect to enabling a stronger regulatory framework that supports resource development, we need to ensure that regulatory agencies and relevant departments have the requisite capacity to perform and carry out responsibilities. We need to ensure that Canada's investment climate is not undermined by unnecessary interjurisdictional conflict and impractical assessment processes. We need to enhance indigenous participation in the role of the federal assessments in a manner that is consistent with Canada's constitutional and legal framework. We need to expeditiously develop and implement approaches to species protection and recovery that are consistent and complementary across federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and that provide a landscape approach rather than a species-by-species approach.

With respect to budget measure two which we've asked about, investing in socio-economic capacity of indigenous communities, as mining operations in Saskatchewan provide real opportunities for careers in economic development opportunities for indigenous communities, it is recommended that budget 2018 invest in and enhance foundational social investments—health, housing, water, education—that will contribute to better outcomes for indigenous people. They are our workforce of tomorrow and our business leaders of tomorrow, and we need to instill investments so they have capacity.

We need to increase funds for skills training and entrepreneurship to assist indigenous peoples in securing opportunities generated by the industry, and we need to allocate dedicated funds to the Canada infrastructure bank to facilitate northern infrastructure development.

With all due respect to the territories, my north is north of 56, not north of 60. There are many remote areas in northern Canada south of the territorial border that need assistance.

Finally, I need to flag my concern as an industry association representative about the legalization of cannabis and public safety, particularly with the timeline for implementation of July 1, 2018, when we don't have adequate testing mechanisms in place to ensure safe workplaces.

The last point I want to make is that we are undergoing a severe and prolonged downturn in both potash and uranium prices. Our companies have done everything they can to control costs. Every new cost right now counts. We just cannot pare down to the bone anymore. I ask you to consider that in your recommendations.

Thank you.