Evidence of meeting #75 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was funding.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Kevin Stringer  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Tony Matson  Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Chris Wang  As an Individual
Janice Yu  As an Individual
Sylvie Lapointe  Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Harbour Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Andy Smith  Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Shipbuilding, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Jeffery Hutchinson  Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Melanie Giffin  Representative, Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association
Kenneth Arsenault  President, P.E.I. Shellfish Association
Ian MacPherson  Executive Director, Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association

9:10 a.m.

Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Jeffery Hutchinson

We've recently put an RFP out that will enhance our icebreaking capability this year, with the ability to do short-term call-ups where we have specific needs to be met.

In terms of the larger interim strategy, as we would call it, that is going through the cabinet process in the near term.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Sir, beyond 2017-18, can you table a note with the clerk within the next month on how you plan to meet the capability gaps for the Canadian Coast Guard as identified by the Emerson report?

9:10 a.m.

Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Jeffery Hutchinson

I expect we won't be able to do that due to cabinet confidence and the budget process which is now kicking into gear. I expect we would be restricted in what we could share for the next period of time.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Okay.

Can you assure Parliament and the business community that the Canadian Coast Guard will be able to break ice this winter to allow for larger Panamax vessels traversing the Panama Canal to sail safely to Montreal?

9:15 a.m.

Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Jeffery Hutchinson

Certainly, we have our icebreaking plan in place for this winter. Will we be able to meet every request for icebreaking? That depends a great deal on what Mother Nature throws at us, but we're confident that we have the fleet, the people, and the training in place to break ice this winter.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Okay.

Mr. Stringer, in going through the supplementary estimates, I noticed that there is.... Perhaps you could direct me to where the funding will be for fisheries management plans.

We have met a number of times in this committee, and we know that 12 of our 15 fisheries are in a critical state. You committed earlier this year to have those plans before us.

I don't see in the supplementary estimates where that money is being allocated.

9:15 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

That was in supplementary estimates (A), I believe, either in the comprehensive review or the program integrity funding.

9:15 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

9:15 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

There were—and Sylvie, see if I have this right—19 FTEs created to work on this initiative. We actually do have a plan. I don't know if it has been posted, but it is soon to be posted. It outlines how many of the IFMPs are going to be updated this year, how many of the IFMPs that weren't done are going to be done, limit reference points, and so on. Those funds were in supplementary estimates (A).

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

May I ask that you table those with the committee?

9:15 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you very much.

Now it's Mr. Donnelly, for seven minutes, please.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, welcome to our departmental officials.

Mr. Stringer, the supplement to the budget calls for $8.2 million in funding for the implementation of the Atlantic fisheries fund program. Can you give the committee an update on the status of the Pacific coast equivalent to this fund?

9:15 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

This is largely built on and connected to the Atlantic growth strategy. There are three points I would make.

First, it is linked to the Atlantic growth strategy.

Second, of the four components of it, which are innovation, infrastructure, science research, and marketing, marketing is national, so it is available to both coasts.

Third, I would say that if you're looking for a comparison, it's funding that we put forward to support the Cohen initiative and similar responses that are focused on the west coast. In addition, the oceans protection plan is a national program, so many of the resources also go to the west coast.

We do watch carefully to ensure that we're providing support on all three coasts, but this piece in particular is for the Atlantic provinces.

November 7th, 2017 / 9:15 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you.

Turning to the wild salmon policy funding regarding Pacific salmon, an article citing recommendations from the Cohen commission in a 2011 report commissioned by DFO recommended that “adequate annual funding be allocated specifically for monitoring, assessment and management of Pacific salmon.” The author stated that the “number of spawning streams that are routinely monitored in the north and central coasts of British Columbia has declined by 34 per cent over the past decade.” The same article warned:

The Canadian government is at a crossroads. It now has the potential to deliver a powerful implementation plan, supported by strong leadership and adequate funding to improve the prospects for wild salmon. Alternatively, it could continue to under-deliver with a weak implementation plan, poor leadership and insufficient resources....

Currently, funding for WSP implementation must be found within the DFO Pacific Region’s existing resources. However, both the Cohen Commission and the Gardner Pinfold Review highlighted that the existing WSP budget envelope is insufficient to implement the policy.

Do you agree with this?

9:15 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

I'd make a couple of points.

One is that we're actually out consulting right now on the wild salmon policy implementation plan. We have supported new investments in wild salmon on the west coast. The investment of $40 million last year in oceans and fisheries science has assisted there. There's new funding for the Pacific salmon treaty. So we are investing significantly. We're out talking now about how best to apply that and how best to implement the wild salmon policy.

Sylvie, do you have anything else on that?

9:20 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Harbour Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Sylvie Lapointe

I would just note that you mentioned our investment in the Pacific salmon treaty, and that was $1.3 million.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Great. Thank you.

Would you agree that the federal budget should provide adequate funding to be allocated specifically for monitoring, assessment, or management of Pacific salmon?

9:20 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

It's hugely important. It's integrated into broader oceans monitoring, but the monitoring of salmon is unique. We do seek to do what we can with the resources we have, and we have made further investments in it. Yes, it is important.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

How many FTEs are currently routinely monitoring salmon spawning streams?

9:20 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

I don't have that with me, but we can get you the specific number of FTEs.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Okay.

My next question was about filling the gap, how many you feel we need to overcome the monitoring gap, so we'll leave that one.

Under the oceans protection plan, are funds available for salmon spawning route monitoring beyond estuaries?

9:20 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

Yes. The oceans protection plan is focused on the broad ocean, but it is about estuaries and the connection with rivers. There are a number of funds that try to connect those things up, between the oceans protection plan and what the Pacific Salmon Foundation is doing. There's also a piece in the supplementary estimates (B) on that, to provide them with support, and the recreational fisheries partnership program.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Do you think investment in this area is crowding out essential work that could be done upstream?

9:20 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

No. As I say, there are other funds that focus on those areas. Both are vitally important. We have to address all of the elements of the life cycle, which include the streams where the larvae are, the lakes and the rivers where they are as juveniles, the estuary where they are for a period of time, and the broad ocean. We have to address all of them, and we have different programs to address them.