Mr. Speaker, this morning I met with representatives from a company.
It is an aboriginal company that specializes in waste management and waste water treatment. This company claims that it has the expertise to address the problems created by municipal solid waste, through total combustion at extreme temperatures, in a way that reduces operating costs for industries, eliminates the development of new enormous landfill sites, creates no greenhouse gas emissions in doing it, reduces existing large landfill sites and reduces groundwater and atmospheric pollution, all of this in a way that will generate electricity.
I have been Minister of the Environment since last July and not a week has gone by without my meeting with representatives of companies like this that have capacities to offer Canada that we can only dream of. According to what they tell me, however, companies need assistance in the beginning to get their initiatives going. In order to succeed, they need help from the Government of Canada. However, there is no program for these companies, each of which is developing its capacities through different initiatives. Creating a program for every initiative would result in huge bureaucratic paralysis.
Instead of that, the climate change plan which we just launched and whose implementation depends on the vote on this budget provides for the creation of a climate fund. The Government of Canada is prepared to invest $1 billion in it, beginning with this budget—an amount that will increase with following budgets until 2012, for a total of $4 billion. This climate fund will make it possible for all these companies with new ideas to find funding if they manage to reduce greenhouse gases in the municipal, industrial or residential spheres.
It will be a cash for tonne project. It will be completely revolutionary. We need it. Canada needs it. If we do this, we will not recognize our country in 2012 because we will have improved our country in so many files. It will be spectacular. This is the tool Canada needs and it depends on the vote on this budget: no budget, no climate fund, and no climate fund, none of the spectacular changes we need.
In the climate change plan that we announced, there is a list of the possibilities that this climate fund could provide for all the following stakeholders:
farmers who adopt low till or zero till practices;
forestry companies that engage in state-of-the-art forest management practices;
property developers that include district heating and renewable energy elements in their plans for new subdivisions;
businesses that develop innovative ways to reduce emissions through recycling and energy efficiency;
companies and municipalities that invest in their communities by encouraging alternative transportation modes;
municipalities that capture landfill gas and use it to generate electricity—
I could also mention university presidents who want to encourage their students to take the bus by giving them free “eco passes”, and so forth. There are boundless possibilities when one thinks of all the Canadians who could find essential assistance thanks to this climate fund.
Only for this climate fund we need this budget, but there are so many other examples. When we speak about this budget, let us note that it is the greenest one since Confederation. That shows how, through this budget, we will be able to bring the environment and the economy together.
This budget does more than invest $5.2 billion, including $3 billion in new funding, in the federal environmental policy. It will transform our economy and make Canada a leader in the sustainable economy.
Let me give members the list of the things we need to have through this budget. We need $40 million for improving the ecological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem and $85 million for a strategy to combat invasive alien species, such as the sea lamprey, the zebra mussel and the Asian longhorned beetle. The budget devotes $28 million to the first phase of the government's oceans action plan, and $269 million in additional and much needed funds will go to our national parks.
With regard to science, the budget sets aside $60 million for geographic information, $111 million is devoted to the development of a new generation of remote radar sensing satellites, and $200 million is allocated to the development of a sustainable energy, science and technology strategy.
In my opinion, the $5 billion in gas tax revenue that the Government of Canada will transfer to the municipalities in order to ensure to the sustainable development of our communities is essential.
This transfer targets support for environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects such as public transit, water, waste water treatment, community energy systems and the handling of solid waste.
Furthermore, in cooperation with the NDP—they are not here but they are in agreement—we have set aside $800 million to further develop public transportation.
Added to the $300 million the budget invested in the green response fund, this new deal for cities and communities is itself a green plan.
We have allocated $90 million to Health Canada in order to help identify harmful substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
In addition to the climate fund, we have devoted $4 billion, on which $2 billion is new money to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I want to mention especially an additional $225 million that will help quadruple the number of households that take advantage of the very popular EnerGuide for homes retrofit incentives program.
I want also to mention that in the budget we have a strong push for clean, renewable energy that will be encouraged, solar, wind power, renewable energy such as small hydro, biomass and landfill gas. We will invest $1 billion to help them to be more competitive in the market and we will submit also through the climate fund. It will be a great push. The list is so long.
I also want to mention $2 billion to $3 billion for the partnership fund, the fund that will help us to work with the provinces, which have so many leverages regarding the energy policy, to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This one is aimed at helping the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments to co-finance their common priorities with regard to climate change. It is not hard to imagine many projects with clear environmental and economic benefits. The provinces have applauded the partnership fund. They are waiting for the budget, especially because of the climate fund.
I am going to quote what I consider to be the most important paragraph for Canadians in the budget speech given by the Minister of Finance. I am being completely objective, of course. In my opinion, the following words were the highlight of this budget:
Our great challenge—and our clear responsibility—is to bring the same focus, the same determination and the same dedication to protecting and enhancing our environment as we did to restoring the health of the nation’s finances. Canadians don’t want a fiscal mortgage hanging over the futures of their children and they don’t want an environmental mortgage to be the legacy of this generation to the next.
That is why we need this budget. If the opposition members do not believe me, maybe they will believe this:
David Runnalls, president of the Canadian National Institute for Sustainable Development has summarized the gist of my remarks today. Of Budget 2005 he said, “It is not just a bunch of money for environmental programs. There are lots of different incentives to the good things that make the economy greener”.
I want also to mention that more than 30 environmental groups in Canada have written to the leaders of the parties in the House. I want to quote the letter. It states:
We are writing to remind you that the vast majority of climatologists are calling on all governments to take urgent action on climate change. Canadians in all regions support rising to the challenge and are looking to you, their leaders, to act responsibly in defense of present and future generations. Yet, this important environmental and economic issue is being overshadowed in the present atmosphere of partisan politics. We call on all parties to put aside their differences long enough to ensure the measures that are necessary for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, introduced in the February budget, are approved by Parliament without delay. There will be plenty of time in the coming years to reevaluate, redesign and expand the plan as it is rolled out. In the meantime it is essential we act now. We assure you we will work with Parliament to improve the plan and make it the best and most credible in the world.
There is a long list including Greenpeace Canada, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Toxic Watch Society of Alberta, et cetera that have signed the letter. I hope the leaders will listen and will vote unanimously for the greenest budget in the history of our federation.