Evidence of meeting #38 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was sector.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jean-François Perrault  Chief Economist, Scotiabank
Sherry Cooper  Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Mathieu D'Anjou  Director and Deputy Chief Economist, Desjardins Group
Avery Shenfeld  Managing Director and Chief Economist, CIBC Capital Markets
Jeff Wareham  Chief Executive Officer, Catch Capital Partners Inc.
David Macdonald  Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Douglas Porter  Chief Economist, BMO Bank of Montreal
Catherine Cobden  President, Canadian Steel Producers Association
Gary Sands  Senior Vice-President, Small Business Coalition, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers
Yannis Karlos  Co-Chair, Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment
Bill Bewick  Executive Director, Fairness Alberta
Pascale St-Onge  President, Fédération nationale des communications
Sophie Prégent  President of Union des artistes, Fédération nationale des communications
Luc Perreault  Strategic Advisor, Independent Broadcast Group
John Lewis  International Vice-President and Director of Canadian Affairs, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
Arden Ryshpan  Executive Director of Canadian Actors' Equity Association, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
Lawrence Morroni  Marketing Manager, Triodetic Sales, Triodetic Ltd
Peter Chabursky  Manager, MultiPoint Foundation Division, Triodetic Ltd
Stuart Back  Co-Chair, Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay. Thanks to both of you. We're well over time.

We'll go to Mr. McLean, who will be followed by Mr. McLeod.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

First of all, I'm going to ask Ms. Cobden some questions. It was an excellent presentation from my favourite witness at these meetings.

Ms. Cobden, the first thing I have to ask you about is the customers of your members and where the actual products end up eventually. For the Canadian steel producers, can you tell me what percentage of their production actually goes into the extractive industries in Canada?

6:30 p.m.

President, Canadian Steel Producers Association

Catherine Cobden

Thank you very much for the question. It's nice to see you again.

In fact, as I'm sure folks are aware, the energy sector is an incredibly important sector customer of ours. Yes, it's one of our top three. Markets for us are the energy sector, the automotive sector and the construction and infrastructure sector. All of these sectors are extremely important, so I do want to thank you for the opportunity to explain the importance of the role of the energy sector in this country to the Canadian steel producers.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Thanks, Ms. Cobden.

If I can continue with that, if you could envision an economy where we were doing less drilling for oil and gas than we are currently, or that we were last year, how much employment would that take out of your industry?

6:35 p.m.

President, Canadian Steel Producers Association

Catherine Cobden

First of all, let's not talk about the drilling levels of today, because it's a very deep and difficult circumstance. There are a good number of Canadian steel producers that rely very heavily on the energy sector's prosperity. Their strength is our strength. Like it is with all of our markets, the better they do, the better off we are.

As well, the most important aspect of that is their commitment to using Canadian steel. That is a message that we continue to put out there, which is that the Canadian steel producers are a great partner for all of these customers. We're in it with them for the very long game, and we hope to see them come back to a very healthy position very soon.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

I appreciate that very much, and so do many of my friends here in western Canada.

You mentioned the trade mechanisms that are happening with our trading partners like the United States through CUSMA. There is the issue of the carbon leakage that will happen because of the carbon tax, and the number of jobs that will bleed off your industry because of the mispricing of Canadian steel versus American steel, which is one market at this point in time.

Can you explain how many jobs aren't going to come back from COVID because of that mechanism?

6:35 p.m.

President, Canadian Steel Producers Association

Catherine Cobden

Let me first explain that CUSMA is an extremely important deal for us. You mentioned CUSMA. It's an extremely important agreement. We want its implementation. We're looking forward to July 1. We want all parts of CUSMA to come into full play as soon as possible, including, as mentioned in my remarks, rules of origin.

The carbon issue is a very interesting one. The Canadian Steel Producers took a leadership position on this issue just a few months ago, just before the COVID situation hit. Part of our thinking was that we wanted to be very good actors and help green the supply chain for Canada's energy sector as well as all of our other markets that I've mentioned.

You may or may not be aware that we made a collective goal. The members of the Canadian Steel Producers Association adopted a goal, as we call it, an aspirational goal of net zero by 2050. We want to work with our customers, particularly our energy customers and our auto customers, etc., to help them.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Ms. Cobden, I asked about the number of jobs that would drift to a different jurisdiction if we have to cost carbon into the steel mechanism.

6:35 p.m.

President, Canadian Steel Producers Association

Catherine Cobden

Yes, it's part of our quest on the net zero to find solutions to reduce our carbon footprint. We don't anticipate losing and don't want to lose any jobs. That's part of the point.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

You talked about money. The strategic innovation fund in particular has been a boon to a lot of industries and has helped them in many respects.

Given the strangulation and the finances that are going to happen going forward, unless we actually find new revenue sources for the federal government, how do you see the government allocating funds to what it used to support, given what it's looking at supporting going forward? That's after $250 billion to $260 billion so far of COVID financing.

6:35 p.m.

President, Canadian Steel Producers Association

Catherine Cobden

I understand that choices have to be made. We made important choices around the emergency wage subsidy and the important role it has played.

As it pertains to SIF, though, our view is that we really need to attract the right investment in this country. In our current climate that will be very, very difficult.

We have a proven track record with SIF. With the strategic investment fund we were able to demonstrate significant investment attraction to four times the amount of level put in. I'm very confident that this was a good choice. I understand choices have to be made. That is certainly one that we are behind, and we hope will get recapitalized.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Next is Mr. McLeod, followed by Mr. Lawrence.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to everyone who presented today. I want to ask the Independent Broadcast Group a couple of questions.

I represent the north. I've had a lot of opportunities to talk with the media in the north. More specifically, I have had many chats with the indigenous media in the north. I can still turn the radio on in the Northwest Territories and hear indigenous languages spoken on a regular basis. We have 11 official languages, nine of which are indigenous. I can turn on my TV and listen to people and watch them speak their language.

It's very important to have indigenous language shared and promoted through the use of media. I can also hear messages being passed on to people who are out on outpost camps, traplines and hunting. It's still a tradition that we use.

We've seen many challenges with radio stations. A number of smaller community radio stations have shut down. We had 33 community radio stations. We got to the point where half of them have closed because of new technology, and the cost is unaffordable.

I believe you have members in your broadcast group that are indigenous.

What challenges have you seen with the COVID outbreak? What has it brought in terms of new challenges to indigenous media that they've faced in the last little while?

6:40 p.m.

Strategic Advisor, Independent Broadcast Group

Luc Perreault

Thank you for the question.

APTN is a full member of the Independent Broadcast Group, but they're solely focused on television, not radio. The radio business is a very, very tough business, and with COVID, if I take the example of Stingray, we're going to see revenue decline about 50% to 60% compared to last year. Unfortunately, we had to let go a little over 100 employees temporarily, because even with the wage subsidy, maintaining operations is very difficult.

I understand what you're facing in the northern territories, because operating a transmitter north of Yellowknife is as expensive as operating a transmitter in downtown Toronto, and your audience obviously is not the same. To restore that level of service that you used to have, in my opinion, you should take the view of operating what we would call community radio stations that can be subsidized by provincial and federal authorities. I know that's something—

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Would that be your recommendation? I'm asking because my next question was going to be on how some of these challenges can be addressed by the indigenous media.

6:40 p.m.

Strategic Advisor, Independent Broadcast Group

Luc Perreault

The non-profit aspect of community radio makes it open for provincial and federal subsidies to maintain operation. I can relay the message to the folks at APTN, who can further the discussion with you, but that's one recommendation I would look at.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Thank you very much.

June 18th, 2020 / 6:40 p.m.

Joel Fortune

If I can intervene, one of the key funding mechanisms for indigenous radio in the north has been the northern aboriginal broadcasting program, which is funded by Canadian Heritage.

Funding to that program has really remained static since the 1990s, and it's not a lot of money—it's less than $10 million in total—for quite a range of indigenous broadcasters across the north. Just with inflation since the 1990s, you can imagine that actual real dollars going to those organizations have declined over time. I know that's a fundamental issue for indigenous radio across the north.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Yes, I hear that concern all the time.

Thank you very much.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Next is Mr. Lawrence, who will be followed by Ms. Koutrakis.

Go ahead, Philip.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Thank you.

My first question is for Mr. Bewick.

I'd like to ask him a harsh question, but one that I think is raised far too often.

What would happen to Alberta if the oil and gas industry was stopped today?

6:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Fairness Alberta

Bill Bewick

As I said, Alberta has diversified a great deal since the 1980s, I think in large part due to lower taxes and lower regulations, but also from spinoffs from the wealth created by that oil sector. We are in a place where we have other things we do, of course, but it would have a pretty drastic effect, just as it would in any province if 25% of the economy was a certain industry and that industry disappeared tomorrow. It would be a pretty dire recovery for a decade at least, but Albertans are resourceful and hard-working and I'm sure we'd find a way to struggle back.

Looking at it the other way, it would be a real lost opportunity for Canada to continue to profit and have spinoff jobs from an industry that provides a product that the world is going to be wanting in copious amounts for another three decades at least.

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

For sure. Thank you, Mr. Bewick.

Ms. Cobden, what would be the impact to your industry if Alberta's oil and gas industry ended today?

6:45 p.m.

President, Canadian Steel Producers Association

Catherine Cobden

Again, just to reiterate, Alberta's energy sector is a very important market for Canadian steel, so for it to continue to be prosperous is certainly a very important objective of ours.

We think of our marketplace in thirds—the auto sector is a third, the construction and infrastructure sector is a third, and the energy sector is a full third of our marketplace, so it would be very significant, clearly.

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Sands, what would happen if Alberta's oil and gas stopped? What would be the impact on the grocery stores in Alberta, and across the country, really?