Evidence of meeting #23 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chair.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Michael MacPherson
Michael Keenan  Deputy Minister, Department of Transport
Kevin Brosseau  Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Department of Transport
Anuradha Marisetti  Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs, Department of Transport

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Can the witnesses speak to the timeline of this process? Is it a matter of submitting some documentation and then getting the rubber stamp, or does it take many weeks and months?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Mr. Keenan or Mr. Brosseau.

4:35 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Department of Transport

Kevin Brosseau

I can follow up, Mr. Chair.

The process would depend on the extent of the details and the volumes of documentation that are submitted, but the department understands that this is an important issue. As we review all such documentation received from a regulated industry, we would in fact review that apace. I can't commit to how long it would take precisely, but I would say that it would be something we would undertake with haste.

March 25th, 2021 / 4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Finally, I would like to follow up on Nav Canada's study to close several of this country's air traffic control towers.

It's my understanding that at the end of this study the transport minister will have the ability to order Nav Canada to keep a tower open if the minister is of the opinion that the order is necessary for aviation safety or for the safety of the general public. Can the witnesses offer any insight as to how the minister will come to this final decision regarding the closure of the towers?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Gentlemen.

4:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Transport

Michael Keenan

I'll start that, Kevin, and then you may want to pick up on it.

Mr. Chair, the question is very topical.

NavCan has launched consultations and studies looking at adjusting the level of service for a range of aerodromes. The process by which the minister comes to a view as to the safety of it is a process that is carried out completely by the safety experts in the civil aviation directorate at Transport Canada.

NavCan has to submit studies fully assessing the implications of any proposed level of service change, and there's a very careful review in the civil aviation directorate. If there's an issue with respect to aviation safety, they will deny the proposed level of service change.

While in legislation it says the minister, as I said, it's a technical safety assessment carried out by civil aviation officials.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Thank you, Mr. Keenan, Mr. Brosseau and Mr. Kram.

We're now going to move on to the Liberals with Mr. Sidhu having the floor for six minutes.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Maninder Sidhu Liberal Brampton East, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses for being with us today.

I've heard from many of my constituents who are interested in ZEVs, zero-emission vehicles. With the government investing in charging infrastructure, it's making the switch to zero-emission vehicles a little more streamlined. This may have been touched upon; however, I'll go back to it just in case.

Back in 2019, $700 million was provided for many federal measures to encourage the uptake and adoption of ZEVs. This funding was supposed to last three years. How long did it take for Canadians to use up this funding, and is there funding in the estimates for the ZEV program?

4:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Transport

Michael Keenan

Mr. Chair, I'll answer the initial part of that and then turn it over to Anu Marisetti, who's responsible for the program, to give a bit more detail.

There are monies in the main estimates for the ZEV program. We've seen that the program has helped facilitate a fast take-up of the purchase of zero-emission vehicles. As a result, the government added additional resources to the program to extend its duration. The increase in the overall main estimates for Transport Canada in 2021-22 compared to the main estimates of the year before is largely due to the additional resources for zero-emission vehicle incentives.

I'll turn it over to Anu to complete what that means in terms of exact dates.

4:35 p.m.

Anuradha Marisetti Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs, Department of Transport

Mr. Chair, as was correctly pointed out, in 2019 funding was provided for the ZEV program and it was supposed to last for three years, but we ended up exhausting it by December 2020. Now in the fall economic statement, another $287 million has been allocated and that will be used to continue to provide this incentive program to both individuals and businesses for the next two years.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Maninder Sidhu Liberal Brampton East, ON

Thank you for that information.

We all know that transportation accounts for a large portion of our emissions. This program, as you said, is very popular. A lot of the funding was used up and $287 million is allocated to it now. What is the potential for programs like these and the transportation sector as a whole to contribute to Canada's overall GHG reduction targets? I know it's very important as well for my kids and for future generations.

4:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Transport

Michael Keenan

It's a big question. At Transport Canada we're spending a lot of time looking at it. The committee member is right; the transportation sector writ large is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, at about 25%.

We have seen in recent years advances in technology that are assessing economically feasible changes in transportation systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We've seen it in passenger vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles are still a bit more expensive than internal combustion vehicles, but the gap is closing. The incentives are driving switchover. We're seeing opportunities in large commercial vehicles, particularly ones that actually work locally in a city and return to base, to use zero-emission battery electric technology and perhaps clean hydrogen technology. I think the tougher ones will be aviation, but even there we're seeing opportunities to reduce carbon emissions from aviation that didn't look feasible even a few years ago.

We're quite optimistic about the ability to drive through a series of initiatives. I think there are some out there on the street already, and there are some where the government is actively considering additional initiatives under the enhanced climate plan, to drive a fairly significant transition to a lower-carbon transportation system in Canada.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Maninder Sidhu Liberal Brampton East, ON

Thank you for that. I'm happy to hear that many initiatives are under way. We heard our infrastructure minister talk about the need for lowering emissions in our transit system. I'm happy to see the announcement from our government for the billions of dollars to help cities and transit authorities switch over to electric vehicles. That's a very positive sign. I know there was very good feedback.

Ms. Marisetti, is there anything else you want to add in terms of the ZEV program? I have about 30 seconds left.

4:40 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs, Department of Transport

Anuradha Marisetti

Mr. Chair, I'd just like to add that the program reached about 3.7% market share in 2020, up from 3% in 2019, so it continues to show good progress.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Thank you, Ms. Marisetti and MP Sidhu.

We'll move on to Mr. Barsalou-Duval.

Mr. Barsalou-Duval, you have six minutes.

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'd like to take this opportunity to put forward some motions; either I have not had a chance to move them yet or the committee has not yet had a chance to discuss them.

On October 26, I gave notice of the following motion:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), an Order of the Committee do issue for correspondence between Transport Canada, including the Minister of Transport and his staff, and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding cancelled plane tickets and the right of air passengers to be reimbursed, and that these documents be provided to the Committee Clerk within 15 days following the adoption of this motion.

I would like to discuss the motion now, Mr. Chair.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

I'll stop the time.

To our witnesses, I do apologize. We're going to digress to a motion right now.

Mr. Clerk, do you have that motion handy?

4:45 p.m.

The Clerk

Yes. It was just sent to the committee. We'll do a quick distribution to everyone in one moment.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Just in terms of the time, Mr. Clerk, can you read it out?

4:45 p.m.

The Clerk

Sure. It reads, “That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), an order of the committee do issue for all of the studies of the last five years, from”—

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Clerk, but that is another motion. For the one I just read, I gave notice on October 26.

4:45 p.m.

The Clerk

Oh.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Thank you, Mr. Barsalou-Duval.

Mr. Clerk, go ahead.

4:45 p.m.

The Clerk

It will take me just one second. I'll have to dig that one up. He just submitted a different motion, so you'll have to bear with me for about a minute while I locate the other one.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Vance Badawey

Members, stand by. I'll take a moment to allow the clerk to try to search out that motion. It has been passed on to you by the clerk in both official languages, I understand.

Mr. Bittle, did you have a question?