Evidence of meeting #151 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was energy.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Nick Xenos  Executive Director, Centre for Greening Government, Treasury Board Secretariat
Kevin Radford  Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Gail Haarsma  Acting Director, Sustainable Development Policy Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of the Environment
Carol Najm  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services and Financial Branch, Department of the Environment
Julie Gelfand  Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General
Rob Nicholson  Niagara Falls, CPC
Jean Yip  Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.

3:40 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Colleagues, I'll convene the meeting now. We're running a little late, because of votes, but thank you all for your patience.

Colleagues, we have a number of witnesses appearing as a panel today.

We have from the Treasury Board Secretariat, Nick Xenos and Jessica Sultan. We have representatives from the Department of Public Works and Government Services, the Department of the Environment, and also the Office of the Auditor General.

My understanding is that the two of you from the Department of the Environment will be sharing an opening statement of 10 minutes, and then all of the others will be giving a brief 10-minute opening address. Following that, we will go directly to questions.

Without any further ado, I would ask Mr. Xenos from the Treasury Board Secretariat to introduce his guest, if he has any, and give his opening statement, please.

3:40 p.m.

Nick Xenos Executive Director, Centre for Greening Government, Treasury Board Secretariat

Thank you very much. I have with me Jessica Sultan, who is with the Office of the Comptroller General; Kevin Radford with PSPC; Carol Najm, ADM with Environment Canada, real property and corporate services; Gail Haarsma with the sustainable development policy division at Environment Canada; and Vincent Ngan from the strategic policy branch at Environment Canada.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk to you about the Government of Canada's greening government strategy.

The aim of the greening government strategy is for the Government of Canada to transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient operations, while also reducing environmental impacts beyond carbon.

Through this strategy, the government commits to the following measures: ensuring low-carbon, sustainable and climate-resilient real property; adopting low-carbon mobility and fleet solutions; pursuing climate-resilient assets, services and operations; and procuring greener goods and services.

The broader context, of course, for the greening government strategy is that it's consistent with the Paris climate change agreement to keep climate change below 2°C. It's consistent with the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, the federal sustainable development strategy, and the ocean plastics charter.

Under the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, Canada committed to reducing its national greenhouse gas emissions and to showing leadership in reducing emissions from government buildings and fleets, to set reduction targets for government operations, and to scale up greening procurement. Therefore, the government committed to a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 or earlier, and a 80% cut by 2050, and to using 100% clean electricity by 2025.

The centre for greening government was established within the Treasury Board Secretariat in the fall of 2016 to meet these low-carbon government commitments.

The centre provides guidance and coordination to departments on federal greenhouse gas emissions reductions, resiliency and greening government initiatives. The centre has a mandate to lead and coordinate the federal emissions reduction, resiliency and greening government initiatives, track and report on federal emissions, coordinate the government's overall efforts to green its operations, and drive results to meet the government's greening objectives.

lt's important to note that the centre for greening government complements the leadership role that Environment and Climate Change Canada plays in sustainable development and climate change writ large for the Government of Canada.

The centre and departments are implementing the greening government strategy. I would like to highlight some of the specific commitments of the strategy to green government operations.

As mentioned, the commitments include a 40% cut in federal greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 or earlier, and an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement; new buildings that are net-zero carbon ready, meaning they should be zero carbon or on a path to zero-carbon, and low-carbon retrofits; 75% of new light-duty administrative fleet vehicle purchases to be zero emission vehicles or hybrid vehicles starting in 2019-20, that being April 1 of the 2019 fiscal year, and moving to 80% zero emission vehicles by 2030; 100% clean electricity for government operations by 2025; diversion of 75% of federal operational waste and 90% of construction waste by 2030; incorporating climate resilient design and delivery into all major real property projects, and adaptation to climate change planning in departmental risk planning; and integrating sustainability and life-cycle assessment principles into procurement policies and practices.

Earlier this year, the government updated the policy on green procurement to better reflect the greening government strategy. The federal government is a significant purchaser in Canada, purchasing over $20 billion in goods and services a year.

Through the greening government strategy and this updated policy on green procurement the government will aid the transition to a low-carbon economy through green procurement, the adoption of clean technologies, and green products and services by integrating sustainability and life-cycle assessment principles; working with major suppliers to encourage the disclosure of their greenhouse gas emissions and environmental performance information; supporting departments in adopting clean technology and clean technology demonstration projects; and increasing training and support on green procurement for public service employees.

For procurement, the early focus has been some of the areas with the biggest greenhouse gas emissions, such as buildings, vehicle fleets, and electricity.

This fall, consistent with the greening government strategy and the oceans plastics charter, the government also committed to taking action to reduce plastic waste by diverting 75% of plastic waste by 2030. Again, that in line with the waste diversion targeted in the green government strategy, eliminating the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government events and meetings, and procuring more sustainable plastics in key areas where plastics are really important and, of course, moving to more reusable recyclable plastics etc.

Another important area of work for the centre is disclosing progress. Last fall, the centre posted a dataset in the greening government section of Canada.ca showing that the government's GHG emissions had been reduced by 28% in 2016-17 from 2005-06 levels. The inventory is made public through the government's open data portal, giving Canadians single window access to tracking information about the government's emissions.

We are working to further expand this inventory to provide a more complete picture of federal greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, to better understand sources of emissions and to identify opportunities for action.

We have released updated data annually for the last two years. Going forward, we will continue to update the emissions annually, and the data will include more departments and agencies, as well as an expanded scope of activities. We're hoping to post the latest data later in the fall, in November or December.

The centre works closely with Public Services and Procurement Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the National Research Council and Environment and Climate Change Canada to provide guidance and support to implementing departments on greening real property, fleet, procurement, and adaptation to climate change.

Departments are making progress in advancing energy-efficiency and low-carbon projects. The largest federal emitter, the Department of National Defence, is now purchasing renewable energy in Alberta.

The Department of Defence is also hiring energy managers for its major bases, implementing energy efficiency projects and greening its administrative fleet.

The second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, or GHGs, Public Services and Procurement Canada, is also implementing numerous measures.

My colleague, Mr. Radford, can expand on this in his opening remarks.

By collaborating with the private sector and other stakeholders, the government will implement initiatives aimed at greening its operations and adopting green technologies, and it will mobilize federal employees to find new ways to reduce our environmental footprint.

Looking ahead, we'll continue reviewing the government's policies to strengthen greening and achieving its low-carbon target.

The centre looks forward to continuing to work with government departments and agencies to do this.

Mr. Chair, I thank you and the committee for the opportunity to describe our work, and how it contributes to the government's efforts to achieve sustainable development.

I welcome your views, comments and questions.

3:45 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Radford, from the Department of Public Works and Government Services, you have 10 minutes, please.

3:45 p.m.

Kevin Radford Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to appear and speak about the greening government strategy. I am happy to share with you the important work we are undertaking at Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, to green government operations and ensure a more environmentally sustainable future.

If we, as a country, government and people are serious about moving toward a greener future that, among other things, does not depend on non-renewable greenhouse gas emitting carbon-based fuels, then we need to make some fundamental changes in the way we work, live and how we make real property investment decisions. We also need to change the way we think about energy, where it comes from, how efficiently we use it, and whom we share it with.

Buildings are significant emitters of greenhouse gases, contributing 23% of GHG emissions in Canada. As providers of office accommodation to the Government of Canada and as a major provider of real property services to other government custodians, with about $1.88 billion in operations in 2017-18, PSPC is in a unique position to both influence and have a direct impact on the greening of government operations and the reduction of GHG emissions by the federal government.

PSPC is in the midst of a fundamental shift in how we make real property investment decisions. We are applying a whole-of-government, portfolio-based approach to our real property assets that allows us to prioritize and allocate resources, so that we can make smarter, more sustainable investment decisions for the best long-term value for Canadians. This approach will give PSPC an even greater ability to enable our tenants to serve Canadians well, and to deliver on our greening government strategy commitments.

PSPC sees tremendous opportunity to deliver on big government objectives, such as smart portfolio investments, greening infrastructure and climate resiliency, modernizing the public service, leveraging technology and realizing socio-economic benefits for all Canadians. We can do this by shifting away from transactional decision-making, and instead apply national portfolio objectives and strategies in how we approach all of our public sector real property decisions.

Greening is one of the main criteria we use to evaluate our assets and prioritize our investments. Traditionally, the main considerations in real property projects were health and safety, followed by building code compliance. Now, greening is increasingly important, both as a criterion on its own and as a key element in ensuring the health and safety of our building occupants.

Additionally, a new model for accrual budgeting, combined with a component-based accounting approach to our Crown-owned assets, will allow us to amortize our green investments and factor long-term energy savings into the project cost options analysis process.

Reducing our environmental footprint is one of PSPC's top priorities. How tenants leverage the space in our infrastructure also has a major impact on GHG emissions. As a result, we've already implemented a variety of initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of our GC workplaces, including the move towards optimizing our space usage. We are promoting a reinvented GC workplace that integrates activity-based working, alternative working arrangements, unassigned seating, and location-based co-working hubs with hotelling spaces. We are modernizing the public service and leveraging technology to influence the GC work culture and facilitate a healthier, greener and more sustainable environment.

We have also implemented numerous initiatives to lower the energy consumption and GHG emissions of our federal buildings, so much so that PSPC has already exceeded the greening government strategy's target of a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. PSPC achieved and reported a 54% reduction in GHG emissions in 2017, compared to 2005, for its Crown-owned assets. Because of this success, our plans are even more ambitious for the future. In fact, PSPC hopes to surpass the 2050 target of an 80% reduction, by achieving a carbon-neutral portfolio by 2050.

A point of personal pride for me is that PSPC is the first department to both set a target and to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio plan in support of our commitment to a low-carbon government. Recognizing that the most efficient unit of energy is the one that you don't use, the first priority of PSPC's carbon-neutral portfolio plan is to reduce energy consumption through a variety of measures.

We now have over 340 energy-efficiency and GHG-reduction projects approved and being implemented across the country. These include smart buildings, deep energy/carbon building retrofits, boiler replacements and building envelope upgrades in our Crown-owned portfolio. These smaller projects are in addition to major investment in district energy in the national capital area.

We've already seen impressive returns on the smart buildings initiative, which used real-time data analytics to drive energy and carbon reduction. We'll see further reductions from the modernization of the district energy system under the energy services acquisition program. These projects are making our assets more efficient, resilient and environmentally friendly.

Additionally, PSPC is working with provincial and territorial partners to develop nationally consistent green-lease clauses that will leverage energy, GHG and waste reduction opportunities in our leased portfolio and provide green leadership to the built sector.

There's more work on the way. We already have Energy Star ratings for all our Crown-owned assets, and now we are undertaking major portfolio, building and engineering asset studies that will inform us on future energy-efficiency and GHG reduction initiatives. There are currently 70 carbon-neutral studies, 140 energy studies, a national carbon-neutral portfolio implementation plan and a deeper greening study for our national capital area energy services acquisition program, or district energy system.

Our second priority is fuel and energy switching to use cleaner sources and on-site renewable energy generation to further reduce the GHG impact of our operations. In provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, the switch from natural gas to hydro electricity for certain energy needs is a potential easy win. In other areas, such as Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, we will look at options for switching from traditional fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives such as on-site renewables.

Recognizing that we may not be able to get to a carbon-neutral portfolio on our own, our final priority is to offset any remaining carbon-emitting energy consumption through energy procurement strategies that will help to green Canada's overall public utility infrastructure. These procurement strategies help to stimulate private investment in renewable energy sources across Canada, which is good for our economy, our citizens and the world.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's centre for greening government recognizes that PSPC is well positioned to develop a centre of expertise in this domain. We have already demonstrated our ability to provide green energy services through energy procurement vehicles such as the national bulk natural gas contract and the Alberta bulk electricity contracts.

For fleet vehicles, our department took the initiative of installing electric vehicle charging stations, or EVCS, at the 100 Wellington Street site and at locations in and around the NCA, both in Gatineau and Ottawa, to charge ministers' and deputies' fleet vehicles. To date, PSPC has installed 59 electric vehicle charging stations in PSPC-owned and leased facilities. Also, a PSPC procurement instrument is already in place to allow government access to electric vehicle options when fleet inventory turnover occurs. Another procurement tool is being finalized to facilitate the acquisition of additional EVCS infrastructure.

PSPC has undertaken several initiatives to green public procurement. Specifically, PSPC has optimized internal processes by adopting electronic tools such as electronic bid submission, increased use of electronic signatures, electronic archiving and the electronic procurement solution, as announced in budget 2018.

Additionally, environmental considerations have been included in the procurement instruments for more than 35 commodity groupings. This allows government departments to easily access environmentally preferable goods and services that contribute to government objectives with respect to the environment and climate change. By collaborating with the provinces and territories, we can potentially extend our influence well beyond federal public procurement.

In line with the recently announced ocean plastics charter, we are also working with other departments to examine opportunities to reduce plastic waste from government operations. We are assessing our current procurement volumes and requirements to identify the best science-based alternatives to plastics and to include specific criteria in relevant procurement categories.

On the topic of climate adaptation, PSPC is currently doing a study to assess the climate change vulnerabilities of its assets in the national capital area. This study will identify the climate-related hazards, including extreme weather events, for the land, buildings and engineering assets that PSPC owns. This is a first step toward incorporating climate adaptation measures into the department's asset management plans and policies. In parallel, the parliamentary precinct branch is applying Engineers Canada's Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee protocol to assess climate vulnerabilities specific to the parliamentary campus.

There is also work under way outside the national capital area. For instance, in the Quebec region, the PIEVC protocol will be applied to nine buildings. In Toronto, PSPC is consulting with the city to learn from its 10 years of experience working on climate adaptation requirements for the greater Toronto area. We are also participating in a pilot project to assess the climate resiliency of assets using the climate resilience tool developed by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada, or BOMA.

Finally, as a member of the federal government departmental advisory committee on codes, PSPC is also involved in supporting the development of resilient codes and standards.

In conclusion, greening government is achievable. Ultimately, greening is not just about the bottom line of using less energy, but includes socio-economic benefits and long-term effects on the health of our environment beyond the immediate, measurable reductions in space, energy costs or GHG emissions.

We need to move away from looking at things in transactional terms, such as designing a LEED silver or gold building, and instead consider where and how a building fits into an overall portfolio plan that focuses on long-term benefits and best value for Canadians and the community.

How we operate, how we manage and recapitalize our assets and how we invest and innovate—all of those decisions also have a wider influence on the real property sector both at home and abroad. What we do will set the standard and influence others to follow suit.

We have the technology to—

3:55 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Thank you very much.

We'll now go to the Department of the Environment.

My understanding, Madam Haarsma, is that you will start. Are you splitting your time?

3:55 p.m.

Gail Haarsma Acting Director, Sustainable Development Policy Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of the Environment

That is correct. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you today about the work we have done at the sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada to ensure that the federal sustainable development strategy, or the FSDS, includes federal actions to green its operations. I will begin by providing you with some background on how greening government operational activities fit within the FSDS. I will then outline our governance practices, and will close with a mention of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

First, as a bit of background, the federal sustainable development strategy is the primary vehicle for federal government sustainable development planning and reporting. It sets out the government's sustainable development priorities, establishes goals and targets, and identifies actions to achieve them. The 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act provides the legal framework for the FSDS. By law, 26 departments and agencies participate in the strategy. Additionally, 15 departments, agencies and Crown corporations participate on a voluntary basis.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change must consult on and table a strategy and produce a progress report every three years. Indicators to track progress at the goal and target level are drawn largely from the Canadian environmental sustainability indicators program. The process includes a 120-day public consultation period that allows parliamentarians and Canadians to review the draft strategy and to make suggestions for improvement.

The first FSDS, tabled in 2010, had greening government operations as a goal, and that goal was to “minimize the environmental footprint of government operations.” This included supporting targets on building environmental performance in existing and new builds, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring proper electronic and electrical equipment disposal, reducing paper consumption and printers, implementing green meeting practices, and undertaking green procurement.

Since that time, each subsequent FSDS—in 2013 and 2016—has included greening government practices within a separate and specific goal focusing on greening government operations. For example, the current 2016-19 FSDS has a low-carbon government goal as one of the 13 goals, and we anticipate it will remain a key component of future strategies.

Developing an FSDS that includes input from 26 legislated and 15 voluntary organizations requires an effective governance structure. ADM and DG committees provide guidance and direction on the structure of the strategy, as required. It also requires a great deal of collaboration between the sustainable development office and the departments and agencies that lead on or contribute to the goals and targets. This helps to ensure that when deputy ministers review the documents, their departmental stories reflect their priorities and key activities.

As you may be aware, Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, is currently in committee in the Senate. This bill would not change any of the good practices in place to develop and implement the federal sustainable development strategy, but would take the next step towards a more effective, accountable and inclusive approach to sustainable development in Canada.

The bill also contains a number of significant changes, including setting a higher bar for transparency and parliamentary oversight and an expanded set of sustainable development principles. A whole-of-government approach will also be achieved through this bill by expanding the number of federal organizations subject to the act from the 26 I mentioned to more than 90, many of which have a significant environmental footprint.

In 2016, the centre for greening government was created within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to centrally track federal greenhouse gas emissions, coordinate efforts across government and drive results. Amendments in Bill C-57 would formalize Treasury Board's role, which includes developing policies and issuing directives on sustainable development that impacts government operations.

In conclusion, greening government operations will continue to be a significant part of the federal sustainable development strategy, and we will continue to work collaboratively with the centre for greening government to ensure that the two strategies are mutually reinforcing.

Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to address the committee.

I turn the rest of the time over to my colleague Carol.

4 p.m.

Carol Najm Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services and Financial Branch, Department of the Environment

Thank you.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you today about the work Environment and Climate Change Canada is doing to meet its commitment to green government operations.

ln the federal sustainable development strategy under the pan-Canadian framework, the Government of Canada committed to lead by example by making its operations low carbon, and has set a target to reduce GHG emissions from facilities and fleets by 40% below the 2005 levels by 2030, or sooner—potentially by 2025.

ln support of the FSDS, Environment and Climate Change Canada developed a departmental sustainable development strategy for 2017-20, articulating departmental actions that will contribute to the FSDS commitments to improve energy efficiency of our buildings, modernize our fleet, support transition to a low-carbon economy through green procurement, demonstrate innovative technologies, promote sustainable travel practices, and understand climate change impacts and build resilience.

ln line with the FSDS, the centre for greening government at Treasury Board developed the greening government strategy, setting out a more ambitious target to reduce the GHG emissions from federal operations by 80% by 2050, relative to the 2005 levels, as well as outlining specific measures to reduce water consumption and its load on municipal systems, and the environmental impact of waste.

ln translating the centre's vision, Environment and Climate Change Canada has created a greening and environmental programs division to mobilize departmental action under this goal and to meet our GHG target reductions, in particular from our facilities and our fleet. To this end, Environment and Climate Change Canada is rationalizing our real property portfolio and implementing strategies to reduce energy consumption, developing a road map for short-term and long-term investments to be made in our facilities, seeking alternative fuels, modernizing our fleet management strategy, electrifying our inventory and expanding our deployment of charging stations.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has a capital planning process in place to identify greening projects, and these are emphasized and implemented with the objective of reducing our GHG emissions. ln 2017-18, Environment and Climate Change Canada invested $5.6 million in capital funds aimed at greening our facilities, and will invest another $8.8 million in planned projects for greening our facilities in 2018-19.

Our five-year capital plan focuses on our facilities that Environment and Climate Change Canada owns and manages, with projects specifically aimed at maximizing our reductions at the earliest possible opportunity. Over this period, an estimated reduction of 1,697 tonnes of emissions will be achieved with the implementation of these projects. Environment and Climate Change is increasing employee awareness and mobilizing from within to reduce waste and find alternative innovative solutions to minimize consumption of single-use plastics. We are planning to undertake waste audits specifically focused on the plastic waste stream to establish a baseline for waste production. This will serve to provide a benchmark against which our progress will be measured in meeting our waste reduction targets.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is relying on internal experts, as well as other departments, to work with its partners to achieve the best procurement and innovative technology outcomes.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is implementing central agency directives on green procurement, exploring paperless options as part of contracting operations, developing green procurement training with a particular focus on credit card acquisitions, prioritizing the reduction of embodied carbon and minimizing the use of harmful materials in the construction and renovation process. ln order to measure our progress towards our targets and deliver on our commitments, we have established a governance structure and invested resources to strengthen the capacity within the department. ln addition, we are undertaking an assessment of our business processes and establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism to make sure we are measuring progress towards reducing our GHG emissions, waste and water.

As part of the national effort to combat climate change, Environment and Climate Change Canada has adopted the Government of Canada's commitment to reduce its GHG emissions by 40 % by 2030, or earlier, against the baseline of 2005. ln the fiscal year 2017-18, emissions have been reduced by 24.5% against the 2005-06 levels. Steady and strong progress is being made to drive down GHG emissions.

We continue to work closely with the centre for greening government, Public Services and Procurement Canada, and with departmental partners and other government departments to expand and deepen our departmental actions and to further our goals in meeting the Government of Canada's commitments.

I thank you for the opportunity to share with you the work we are doing.

4:05 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Thank you very much.

Our final intervention will be from Madam Gelfand, who is with the Auditor General's office.

Madam, the floor is yours.

4:05 p.m.

Julie Gelfand Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General

Mr. Chair, thank you for this opportunity to appear today before your committee. Joining me at the table is our principal, Kimberley Leach.

I, as commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, or essentially the environment auditor general, have a specific mandate to audit and monitor issues related to the environment and sustainable development, and I report them to Parliament. In fact, I have a legislated mandate to review the federal sustainable development strategy.

Since the beginning of my mandate, I made it a priority to look at climate change from many different perspectives. This means that, since 2014, we have audited areas such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, the issue of severe weather and how Canada is ready to adapt to that, the funding of clean energy technologies, and federal support for sustainable municipal infrastructure.

We have also audited whether Canada is reaching its commitment to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and this is a topic I will follow up on in my spring 2019 reports.

This afternoon I hope to present to you an overview of the recent audit results that may provide your committee with useful context as you begin your study of this greening government strategy. I will then provide you with a few comments on the proposed strategy itself from an auditor's perspective.

In our spring 2016 reports, we looked at what the federal government was doing to support efforts to mitigate the effects of severe weather. Severe weather events are expensive and are becoming increasingly common. The federal government had spent more on recovering from large-scale natural disasters between 2010 and 2015 than in the preceding 39 years combined.

We found that the federal government had not been successful in its efforts to encourage provinces and territories to invest in projects designed to mitigate the impacts of severe weather. The federal government could have also better supported the planning of resilient infrastructure through the information and tools it made available to decision-makers.

For example, the information used to predict the probability of extreme rainfall amounts and the duration of storms, and to enhance flood-plain maps had not been updated in 10 years and, in some cases, 20.

Let me now turn to our spring 2016 audit that looked at federal programs intended to support the sustainable infrastructure of Canadian communities.

Overall, we found that it was not clear to what extent a decade, 10 years, of federal funding programs in excess of $13 billion had produced the environmental benefits they were supposed to bring.

When we looked at infrastructure projects that Infrastructure Canada had funded under the gas tax fund, for example, we found that the department did not have indicators in place to assess to what extent the money had resulted in cleaner air, cleaner water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

When it comes to considering infrastructure projects for funding, we found that Infrastructure Canada expected proposals for major projects to include information on environmental risks, but it did not use this information to analyze the risks of climate change, for example.

In the fall of 2017, we presented to Parliament three audits on topics related to climate change: mitigation, adaptation and funding of clean energy projects.

We audited three funds that support the development of demonstration projects on clean energy technology. I was happy to report that the three clean energy funds we looked at were working well overall.

With respect to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, our office has indicated that meeting Canada's new 2030 greenhouse gas emission target will require substantial effort and actions beyond those currently planned or in place.

With respect to adapting to climate change, we looked at whether 19 federal organizations had identified and addressed climate change risks to their programs and operations.

Environment and Climate Change Canada developed a federal adaptation policy framework in 2011, but the department did not move to implement it. The department also failed to provide other federal organizations with adequate guidance and tools to identify their climate change risks.

As a result, we found that only five of the 19 departments and agencies we examined had fully assessed their climate change risks and acted to address them. We found that the 14 other departments had taken little or no action to address the climate change risks that could prevent them from delivering programs and services to Canadians.

This is a really important point. Canada has $66 billion in assets, and overall, in reviewing those assets to see whether they were prepared to adapt to a change in climate, we found that the Government of Canada was not prepared to deal with a change in climate and these $66 billion of assets.

With respect to the strategy you are reviewing today, I would argue that the section on adaptation could be improved by reviewing our audit recommendations on adaptation and integrating them into the greening of government strategy.

The last report I wish to draw your attention to is the collaborative report, “Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada”, presented in Parliament in March 2018. This report was historic and ground-breaking, because it was the first time that so many auditors general in Canada—provincial, territorial, and the federal Auditor General—had worked on any topic. The topic that they picked to work on together was climate change action.

At the provincial-territorial and federal levels, Canada's auditors general found that most governments were not on track to meet their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that most governments were generally not ready to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

The collaborative report included questions that legislatures and Canadians could consider asking their governments as these governments move forward on their climate change commitments. You will find these questions in the appendix to this opening statement. I encourage you to look at them and perhaps ask the government representatives here some of those questions.

Finally, as an auditor I wish to provide you with some comments on the greening of government strategy—which at some point we will audit, so I can't give you too much. My office, though, looks at these strategies with the SMART framework in mind; that is, are the objectives specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic, and are there timelines associated with the activities?

When I reviewed the strategy, I found that the sections of the strategy dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, real property, mobility, and fleets have fairly specific targets that have timelines and that are measurable, for the most part.

We did not see that same specificity in the rest of the strategy. As I indicated earlier, I am particularly concerned with the area of adaptation to climate change and even the area of oversight and performance management, given the results of our previous audits.

From my perspective, questions for each part of the strategy should include the following. When will these activities be completed? Who will complete them? How much will actually get done?

I encourage this committee to consider a recommendation to include SMART objectives throughout the entire strategy so that Parliament and Canadians can measure the results.

Finally, I encourage the committee to consider the accountability of the strategy and ensure that it is made clear to everyone.

Mr. Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer any questions the committee may have.

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Thank you very much.

We'll go immediately into our seven-minute round of questions, starting with Monsieur Drouin.

4:15 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will apologize to the witnesses if I don't have a chance to ask all of you at least one question.

I am going to start with Mr. Xenos regarding the centre for greening government. What is its role? Does it play a coordinating role within government, and does it set objectives for the government? I'd like to understand the roles that each of you people play in relation to the centre.

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Centre for Greening Government, Treasury Board Secretariat

Nick Xenos

Okay. Thank you for the question.

The role of the centre for greening government is to coordinate the efforts to get to results in the greening government strategy. We developed the strategy. Our job now is to implement it with our colleague departments.

At Treasury Board Secretariat, being the management board, we have an essential role in government administrative policies. For example, Jessica here is with the Office of the Comptroller General. That office is the lead on the real property policies of the Government of Canada's fleet and procurement policies. Really, those are some good levers to move.... Given that our emissions are mostly from buildings and the fleet, those are the essential kinds of policies you want.

Part of our role is to align central policies with the greening government strategy, including those I mentioned. We own, of course, the policy on green procurement as well. We own those policies and that central management function.

Second, we're driving to implement and coordinate results. We provide direction and guidance to departments. We coordinate with the expert departments. In all of these different areas, there are departments with different expertise. Natural Resources Canada has expertise in buildings. Public Works has expertise in buildings and contracting. Environment Canada has expertise in adaptation, for example, and in other areas such as waste management, etc. The National Research Council has the construction institute that does the building codes, etc.

We bring together that expertise as a service to the implementing departments, which ultimately are the ones who will take action to reduce their emissions. They control their real property and fleet. Through their buying of real property and fleet, they can lower emissions. They have the direction from Treasury Board, the oversight function from Treasury Board and the support function from technical expertise.

PSPC owns the second-biggest portfolio. The biggest by far is defence; then second is PSPC. Environment Canada has expertise in sustainable development, generally. Adaptation leads the climate change work across Canada and with provinces and territories, etc.

I can let my colleagues add anything if they want to.

4:20 p.m.

Acting Director, Sustainable Development Policy Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of the Environment

Gail Haarsma

Sure. The sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for maintaining systems and procedures to monitor progress on implementing the federal sustainable development strategy under the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Part of that is to ensure that greening of government operations is part of the strategy. It's an overview of sustainable development activities within the Government of Canada. Therefore, it includes activities from different departments. But there is a specific chapter on greening government. As I said from the outset, since the very first strategy was implemented in 2010, each subsequent strategy has had an element of greening government in its own goal.

4:20 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Is your department responsible for standardizing how we monitor and measure carbon emissions for buildings or for...?

4:20 p.m.

Acting Director, Sustainable Development Policy Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of the Environment

Gail Haarsma

We work with the centre for greening government to provide departments with guidance on how to implement the greening government strategy. We do it for the 12 goals in the current federal sustainable development strategy, and the centre for greening government provides guidance for their goal.

We work together to ensure that its seamless and works well.

4:20 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON


Mr. Radford, I think you wanted to jump in.

4:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Kevin Radford

Sure. Besides telling us what to do from a GGO perspective, Nick's team is bringing us together. If we're doing things like district energy as an example here in Ottawa, we can share that experience with National Defence and the heating plants that they need to start refurbishing and modernizing across their bases, wings and units. We can share what works and what doesn't. If we're testing waste oil fuels or if we're testing biomass, we can share those kinds of results through the GGO. That actually allows us to do horizontal activities in an easier fashion.

The results that we get from a major rehabilitation of an existing building, like 25 St. Clair in Toronto, will contribute to the Canada Green Building Council's new LEED certification around net-zero carbon. But the data and the effort that we put into that facility will then be made readily available, with information shared on what's working, what could be done a little better, where we could achieve continuous improvements across the whole infrastructure spectrum of the 26 custodians, etc.

This is the kind of relationship that we have. I think it's a good one. It's helping with sharing information on a regular basis.

4:20 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thanks for the question.

Ms. Gelfand, I listened closely to your opening remarks. I think it's great that the auditors general are working together, but what happens when the federal, provincial and territorial governments are not all working towards the same goal?

That's evident here, in Ontario, where the provincial government has decided not to make climate change a priority. In that case, what should our role as lawmakers be? What can we do to encourage provinces to move in this direction? You mentioned setting up incentives. What incentives would you suggest the federal government put in place in order for provinces to follow suit on climate change action?

4:20 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General

Julie Gelfand

That's an excellent question.

4:20 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Unfortunately, Ms. Gelfand, you have about 30 seconds.

4:20 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General

Julie Gelfand


My job is not to give you advice. Rather, it is to audit the federal government's operations. What makes this initiative so historic, however, is the fact that all the auditors general across the country worked together on the same audit.

4:20 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Very well, but you were the one who brought up the operations of the provincial and territorial governments. If it's not part of your job, why did you do it?

4:20 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General

Julie Gelfand

All the auditors general and I produced this report together.

4:20 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Thank you very much.

Mr. McCauley, take seven minutes, please.

4:20 p.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Welcome, everyone.

Before I get to my questions, I'd like to introduce my motion, which we put on notice on September 24 this year. I think the clerk has it.

I think our clerk will hand it out.