Thank you, Chair.
Good morning, colleagues. It's good to be back with you again.
When I was here in February to discuss my mandate letter, and again in April on my department's main estimates, we talked at length about the need to develop our resources sustainably, about the responsibility to ensure that economic prosperity and environmental protection go hand in hand, about the opportunity to help indigenous peoples and local communities benefit economically and socially, and about the potential to make resource development a truly nation-building exercise.
Ten months later, all of those things are still true, and more urgent than ever.
We are at a pivotal moment when climate change is part of the significant challenges of our generation, and when investing in clean technology and innovation in the resource sectors is the new imperative.
The good news is that there have been encouraging signs since I was last here. Some commodity prices—particularly some metals and minerals—are beginning to bounce back. Some resource producers are talking more optimistically about the future.
There is still a lot of work to do. While Canada has the resources and know-how to lead the global transition to a lower carbon future, we will only do so by ensuring that our environmental house is in order, continuing to engage meaningfully with indigenous peoples, and ultimately earning the confidence of Canadians.
That's been our government's focus throughout its first year. We recognize that there are no easy answers. There's no unanimity on what sustainable resource development should look like. Even many families sitting around their dinner tables may not agree. There are some who argue that we should never build another pipeline or an LNG plant, and some who say we should always build these projects, but I don't think, Mr. Chair, that either side will carry the day.
In our consultations with Canadians, we've seen a consensus forming, a widening middle ground that sees economic growth and environmental stewardship as equal components of a single engine of innovation. Our government is determined to lead the way. We demonstrated that again last week with the decisions we announced on several major pipeline projects.
We have approved the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 replacement pipelines with appropriate binding conditions, and we rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline while imposing a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic along the northwest coast of British Columbia. In each instance, the decisions we took were based on solid science, meaningful consultations, and the best interests of Canada. I am particularly proud that our decisions incorporated the unique connection indigenous peoples have with the land, the air, and the water, a sacred relationship passed on from generations to us, and for which we have the responsibility to pass on to those who come after.
These decisions we've taken will create good jobs, more than 22,000, and they will help us reach our climate change targets by leveraging the fossil fuel resources we have today to deliver clean energy solutions for tomorrow. As the Prime Minister has said, the choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to achieve our goal. Our first budget spoke to this reality and Canada's potential by setting the table for investing significantly in clean technology, modernizing federal environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, and strengthening public consultations.
Today's supplementary estimates build on that, with more than $28 million in proposed new funding for Natural Resources Canada. Let me briefly highlight what we are doing in each of these areas and why.
The first area is clean technology. As a nation rich in natural resources, we need to find cleaner ways of developing them in order to meet our climate change commitments. Our government is investing $1 billion over the next four years to support clean technology, including in the natural resource sectors.
For example, the supplementary estimates propose investing $2.4 million to develop additional data on the clean technology sector, to support the energy innovation program, and to update the ENERGY STAR portfolio.
Why fund these things? Because the global clean technology market represents an exciting opportunity for Canada's natural resource sectors; a source of new, clean jobs; and a driver of prosperity for all Canadians. As part of that, we've launched the Let's Talk Clean Resources project to engage Canadians on new measures to support clean technology producers and increase investment in clean technologies in the natural resource sectors.
The second area regards modernizing our environmental assessments and regulatory reviews.
Developing our resources and getting them to market in an environmentally responsible way requires strong regulatory processes that carry the confidence of Canadians. We've understood that from the beginning, which is why we quickly implemented an interim strategy for reviewing major resource projects already in the queue.
It's an approach based on guiding principles that include broader, more meaningful consultations and a new requirement to consider upstream greenhouse gas emissions.
Today, we are seeking $2.8 million to support this enhanced level of scrutiny. As well, we are proposing to invest $3.4 million to support the work of the new five-member expert panel appointed last month to review the structure, role, and mandate of the National Energy Board.
We want to ask Canadians questions that are as fundamental as they are far-reaching. If we had to create a Canadian energy regulator from scratch, what would it look like? What principles would determine its structure? And what would its relationship with the government be?
The supplementary estimates also include $2.9 million to fund NRCan's efforts under the national marine conservation targets.
While the initiative is being led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, my department is seeking this funding to support scientific and economic assessments of petroleum resources in proposed conservation areas, in a whole-of-government approach to protecting Canada's marine and coastal areas.
The third area I'd like to speak about is strengthening public consultations.
As part of our investments to reform Canada's environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, we have placed an emphasis on enhancing public consultation. We cannot achieve any of our goals if we don't earn the public's confidence.
We've been engaging Canadians every step of the way, inviting their comments on how to modernize the National Energy Board, and gathering their thoughts through new panels that complement the NEB's formal hearings on projects such as the Trans Mountain expansion and energy east.
These supplementary estimates are critical to support public consultations that enable us to listen to Canadians because if we don't, we will never earn their trust.
Other highlights from the supplementary estimates include $1.2 million to support green jobs under the renewed youth employment strategy, $13.2 million to settle Soldier Settlement Board mineral rights with Manitoba, $2.6 million being transferred from the Department of National Defence for ongoing operating and maintenance of the Natural Resources Resolute facility and related logistics support to the Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre, and more than $275,000 for safe and secure shipping.
Combined, all of these investments will help to strengthen our resource sectors, spur innovation, and support new research.
Mr. Chairman, these are challenging times, but they are also times of opportunity if we are prepared to seize them. I am asking for your support for these important initiatives, and for you to approve these estimates.
I welcome any questions you may have.