Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, everyone.
It's great to be here again to talk about what important investments our government has made in forestry, mining and the energy sector since October 2015, and how we can continue to invest in the future of Canada's natural resource sectors. This is a critically important time for our resource sectors and, more importantly, for Canadian workers.
As we all know, the world's energy needs are changing. Countries are increasingly looking to import sustainably sourced products. There is a growing consensus on the need to take immediate and sustained action on climate change. Some may choose to ignore these changes, keep their heads in the sand and hope for the best, but that is not the Canadian way. We are innovators.
Let's not forget that it was Canadians who first discovered how to get oil out of the oil sands. It was Canadians who created the first all-electric, battery-powered gold mine. It was Canadians who first built the largest North American passive house.
So how do we prepare for the future while also responding to the needs of today?
It starts with listening. In 2015, Canadians made it clear that protecting the environment and growing the economy could no longer be treated by the government as opposing goals.
Through Generation Energy, over 380,000 workers and leaders from renewable energy and clean tech, from oil and gas, from municipalities, indigenous leaders and Canadians helped build the idea of what our energy future could look like and how we can get there. We listened, and we have taken action to deliver for middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class.
We have done this by attracting new investment, extending the mineral exploration tax credit for five years, which is the first ever multi-year extension, and unveiling a plan that will position Canada as the world's undisputed mining leader. It is creating tens of thousands of jobs by supplying the minerals that will drive the clean growth economy.
We are reimagining the forest sector so our vast forests continue to play an essential role in our economy, not just here in Canada but around the world.
Through our investment of over $1 billion in energy efficiency, we are helping Canadians save money on their energy bills while fighting climate change.
We are building our energy future with a clear focus on expanding our renewable sources of energy, gaining access to global markets and making our traditional resources, such as oil and gas, more sustainable than ever.
Continuing this work and building on our progress to date is the big picture behind our main estimates. It mirrors a lot of what you have studied in your work as a parliamentary committee and the valuable recommendations you have provided to our government. I want to thank you for your work on behalf of Canadians.
The funding contained in this year's main estimates would support our department as we address the challenges in front of us, but also the opportunities ahead. This funding includes: advancing the use of new, clean technologies in the resource sector; helping remote, northern indigenous communities reduce their reliance on diesel; combatting the spruce budworm outbreak through early intervention; and extending our support to the many communities impacted by the unjustified tariffs on softwood lumber.
It will also give us the funds needed to implement key pillars of budget 2019. This includes new investments to encourage more Canadians to buy zero-emission vehicles; engage indigenous communities in major resource projects; improve our energy data, a key study from your committee; and enhance our ability to prepare for and respond to disasters that increasingly require federal action.
As I noted at the beginning of my remarks, this is a pivotal moment in our country's history and it is not without its challenges, whether they are building pipeline capacity in the west, fending off protectionist measures to our south or changes across our economy in all regions of our country.
Canada's unemployment rate may be at a 40-year low, but we need to be mindful of Canadians who are anxious about their future. ln my home province of Alberta, we have seen ongoing challenges for many workers because of fluctuating commodity prices. Our government sees all of these challenges, and we are taking them head-on.
That is why we announced a $1.6-billion action plan to support workers and enhance competitiveness in our oil and gas sector. That is why our government is providing up to $2 billion to respond to the U.S. tariffs that are threatening Canadian workers in our steel and aluminum sectors. lt is why we built on the $867 million through our softwood lumber action plan with continued support to the forest sector in budget 2019.
lt is why we are providing $150 million to ensure a just transition for workers and communities affected by the phasing out of coal-powered electricity. lt is why we are improving the way we make decisions on major projects, so that all Canadians have trust in their reviews, ensuring that we can advance nation-building projects that will grow our economy without putting our health, environment or communities in harm's way.
It is also why we have been doing the hard work necessary to follow the path set out in the Federal Court of Appeal's decision on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. While that decision was a disappointment to many, it provided clear guidance on how the process could move forward in the right way, in a specific and focused way.
Some argue we should ignore that guidance, disregard the court and respond with lengthy appeals designed to avoid our obligations to the environment and to indigenous peoples. Our government took the responsible and more efficient path. We directed the National Energy Board to conduct a review of marine shipping and committed to getting phase three consultations right.
That important work is well under way. The NEB report was delivered on time on February 22. ln parallel, our consultation teams have been hard at work on phase three consultations. These teams, nearly double their original size, have been engaging in meaningful, two-way dialogue to discuss and understand priorities of indigenous communities and to offer responsive accommodations where appropriate. I have also personally met with many indigenous communities to help build a relationship based on trust.
Our work to date has put us in the strong position we are in today to deliver this process for all Canadians. Our work on TMX, our historic investments in solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of energy and our commitment to innovation and the development of new technologies are laying the foundation for a strong Canada both for today and for tomorrow.
Mr. Chair, our government sees our resource industries playing a key role in driving Canada's clean growth economy. We value the expertise and experience at Natural Resources and the drive of all Canadians to help make it happen.
These main estimates are a down payment on Canada's future, a future that our children will inherit with pride and build upon with confidence, a future that will continue to create well-paying, middle-class jobs for Canadians and future generations.
With that, I would be happy to take your questions.
Thank you for having us here.