Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee.
I'm glad to be back again, and so soon. We had a very good conversation the first time I had a chance to sit down with you. I think I said then, and I'd be pleased to say again, that I really believe this is at the very heart of Parliament; members from all sides having an open debate about issues that matter to Canadians.
We may disagree on some of the detail, but we certainly agree on one thing and that is that we all care about the best interests of our country. I am very pleased to spend the next hour with you talking about the Natural Resources Department. I'll talk about the main estimates for the current fiscal year, the supplementary estimates (C), and of course our government's first budget.
As I said when I was here in February, we share a big responsibility with this portfolio. Our task is to ensure Canada's natural resources are developed sustainably as part of a strong economy and a clean environment, and in ways that ensure local communities are the true beneficiaries. All of these things depend upon the choices we as parliamentarians make, the priorities we set, the principles we establish, and the investments we make. The main estimates are part of that. They provide the fiscal base for the coming year, but the main estimates are only part of the story. Budget 2016 fills in the details. It outlines our overarching vision that Canadians are ready and eager to embrace the low-carbon, clean growth economy of tomorrow. Economic growth and environmental protection are not competing interests, but vital components of the single engine of innovation. Canadian ingenuity can rise to the challenge of solving today's problems, bettering our lives, and bringing us the future; a future that will be better, brighter, and more prosperous than we can imagine.
In many ways, our first budget reflects the great opportunities we see in Canada's resource industries: to support research and development, to invest in clean technology and innovation, to promote clean energy and alternative fuels, to engage in more meaningful consultations with indigenous people and local communities, and to develop greener ways to extract and process our natural resources and get them to market.
All of these things are front and centre in budget 2016, with Natural Resources Canada figuring prominently in our government's investment plans.
Those highlights include $87.2 million over two years to update the facilities that support research in forestry, mining, and minerals, earth sciences and mapping, as well as innovation in energy technology; $82.5 million over the next two years for the research, development, and demonstration of clean energy technologies; $62.5 million over two years for recharging stations for electric cars and refuelling stations for vehicles powered by natural gas and hydrogen; $50 million to invest in technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector; and $2.5 million to support regional dialogues and studies that identify the most promising electricity infrastructure projects.
It's a lengthy list, but each of those investments is designed to speed Canada's transition to the low-carbon economy of the future.
There is more. We are also investing $128.8 million over five years to develop new energy efficiency programs and policies. We want to help Canadians save money as they reduce their environmental footprint.
We've committed $81.3 million over five years to support marine conservation activities. Budget 2016 also extends the 15% mineral exploration tax credit for another year. It permits certain costs associated with undertaking environmental studies and community consultations to continue to qualify as Canadian exploration expenses. That's good news for junior mining companies seeking the venture capital they need to finance exploration. It also serves as an incentive to individual investors attracted to the flow-through shares that finance grassroots mineral exploration.
Taken all together, it's a game-changing budget that delivers on our promises to Canadians.
I would be remiss, though, if I did not point out that budget 2016 also gives substance to the international commitments we've made over our first six months in office, including commitments made at the COP 21 climate change talks in Paris last November; at the North American energy ministerial I hosted in Winnipeg earlier this year; in the joint statement on climate, energy, and Arctic leadership that Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama agreed to in Washington last month; and with our pledge, as one of the 20 founding countries of Mission Innovation, to double government investments in clean energy research and development over the next five years, as well as spurring private sector investments in clean technology.
For example, budget 2016 provides for more than $1 billion over four years beginning in 2017-18 to support clean technology. That includes innovations in the forestry, mining, and energy sectors. We realize that the marketplace will ultimately decide how quickly the global economy goes green, but governments can point the way. We can provide the necessary nudges by pricing carbon, by ending subsidies for fossil fuels over the medium term, and by investing in and supporting the low-carbon, clean-growth economy of the future.
We can also show leadership by building consensus for major resource projects. That's what our interim approach does for assessing and reviewing major resource projects already in the queue.
How? It does so by restoring public confidence in the process; by renewing our nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples through meaningful consultations; by ensuring direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to a project are considered; by basing regulatory decisions on science and evidence; and by ensuring this evidence includes traditional indigenous knowledge. Our government's approval of Woodfibre's proposed liquefied natural gas project near Squamish, British Columbia, is an example of doing things the right way.
I'm pleased that budget 2016 also includes $16.5 million to implement our interim approach over the next three years. It's a vote of confidence in our efforts to bring Canadians together, to find common ground, and to ensure Canada's resource industries remain a source of growth, employment, and new opportunities in a world that increasingly values sustainable practices. That's why I've also been hosting round tables across the country from Halifax, Saint John, and Toronto to Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. When you bring industry representatives, indigenous peoples, and environmental leaders into the same room, often for the first time, you quickly discover that there is much more that unites us than separates us.
As I've said before, I have great faith in Canadians and their ingenuity. We are a nation of hard-working, resilient, and visionary people who always seem to rise to the occasion, and I'm convinced that we will do so again.
Great things are within our grasp for Canada's resource industries, and budget 2016 will help us achieve that. Through innovative ideas and important investments, we will redefine our resource sectors and reset our economy for generations of prosperity.
I'm here today, Mr. Chair, to seek your support for our spending plans, to invite all of you to work with us, and to answer any questions you may have.