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House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was benefits.

Topics

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 7:12 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired. The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, April 29, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation is facing imminent closure due to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's decision to not renew funding to the centre. This centre has been a catalyst for research and innovation in the fisheries and aquaculture sector for nearly 20 years and has been responsible for many of the successful innovations that have occurred in this industry over that time period.

The ACOA minister stated in the House of Commons that the centre was no longer necessary and that industry had outgrown it. However, in recent weeks there has been an outcry against ACOA's decision to not renew this funding. These voices come from industry groups throughout Atlantic Canada, including harvesters, processors and aquaculture interests, from the academic research community and Liberal, Conservative and NDP members of Parliament alike.

Of particular note is the fact that the four Atlantic premiers have endorsed the need for the continuation of the centre. How is it that the ACOA minister can say that CCFI is no longer necessary when organizations so largely and widely support this group?

The 20-year success of this centre speaks for itself. CCFI has emerged as a centre for excellence for fisheries and aquaculture research and development and has brought tremendous value to the industry and the academic community throughout the region.

In the last six years alone, CCFI has managed more than 280 projects throughout Atlantic Canada at a total value of approximately $30 million. During this time, CCFI has achieved a leverage rate of approximately 1:5. Therefore, for every $1 the centre commits to a project, it leverages approximately $5 from other sources. This is a tremendous return on investment.

It is also important to note that nearly 50% of the centre's current leverage support comes directly from industry, which is a testament to the relevance of the organization. These projects have resulted in significant economic benefit throughout the entire Atlantic region, from resource development initiatives to improvements in energy efficiency, to new safety technologies in the harvesting sector, as well as advancements in the aquaculture sector.

There is no doubt that without the funding and facilitative support of CCFI to jump-start these projects, much of this highly valued research would not be completed. Let there be no doubt that cessation of the centre's mandate will leave a major void in fisheries and aquaculture innovation throughout Atlantic Canada.

For the ACOA minister to suggest that this void can be filled through the Atlantic innovation fund is highly misleading. AIF funding may provide support to a few large scale fisheries and aquaculture research projects each year but many will only benefit a couple of companies.

It is important to stress here that industry largely does not have the time nor the resources to pursue these large scale, high risk commercialization projects. By comparison, CCFI will take $1 million a year to fund 50 to 60 to 70 projects, leveraging $5 million to $6 million and providing real benefits to the entire Atlantic region. This is the kind of support that industry requires in this current economic climate: industry-driven industrial research and development that solves existing industry problems and leads to new commercialization activities and opportunities.

I would ask the minister responsible for ACOA why research in the fishing and aquaculture industry, which is the economic backbone of much of Atlantic Canada, being cut by the government now when it is needed most?

7:15 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl for giving me the opportunity to expand upon this debate of just two days ago.

As I have made clear, CCFI conducts no actual research whatsoever. It has acted exclusively as a coordinator and matchmaker between the fishing industry and the research community. That matchmaking role is no longer necessary.

The industry is a different place than it was 20 years ago. Over the past 20 years, the attitude of the fishing industry toward research and development has evolved and matured to the point where the industry and academia now routinely partner in research opportunities, including many projects directly supported by ACOA and other funding entities. In fact, since 2002, through its Atlantic innovation fund, ACOA has directly invested $60 million in fisheries research partnerships between industry and the academic community.

Even as recently as March 2 of this year, ACOA, DFO, the provincial government and Memorial University announced an $8.5 million cod farming demonstration project to advance cod aquaculture research in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is wrong to suggest a cessation of funding for the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation will impact the pace or quality of fisheries and aquaculture research in Atlantic Canada.

Research capacity in Atlantic Canada is not dependent on CCFI. The research capability of Memorial University and its Marine Institute and other academic institutions throughout Atlantic Canada will continue to be available to the fisheries sector.

Moreover, when ACOA provided its last contribution to CCFI in March 2008, it was on the understanding that CCFI would develop a sustainability plan that would no longer depend on ongoing support from ACOA.

The Marine Institute has acknowledged in writing its understanding of this fact and that a new go forward strategy was required for the centre. CCFI did not provide such a plan. Instead, it submitted a strategy that would require a minimum of $1 million per year from ACOA indefinitely.

It is fair to say that CCFI has done good work for the fishing industry. After 20 years of working with research institutions, the fishing industry understands its capabilities well and no longer needs a separate centre to match industry needs with research capabilities.

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I believe a number of people would disagree with the hon. member on whether or not CCFI is necessary and required in these economic times, especially when a centre facilitates, coordinates and assists small scale projects, 60 to 70 projects, and can leverage $5 for every $1 of investment.

I want to read some letters from a couple of supporters. George Joyce, the executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador, said:

CCFI is a leader in the business of solving problems for us and creating opportunities for the fishery. Why cut the funding when the centre is adding value?

Derek Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers said:

It would represent a loss to industry if they were not there, and we want to add our voice to that of others who are in support of renewed funding for them.

I would like to add the voice of another but, unfortunately, I am out of time.

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Conservative Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, let me restate the facts. CCFI acted exclusively as a matchmaker organization between the fishing industry and the research community. It did no research on its own.

It is obvious, from the success of the fisheries sector in securing AIF support and other program funding, that the need to fund a separate entity such as CCFI to link the industry to research capabilities is no longer necessary.

I will recite some facts as well. On a VOCM call-in show in Newfoundland the question was asked: Should the federal government provide dollars to keep CCFI open? Out of 6,003 votes received, 34% said yes and 61% said no.

7:20 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part today in this adjournment debate on contaminated water in Shannon, as this issue interests me a great deal.

This is the third time I have spoken on this issue, because the responses this government has given through members from the Quebec City area—whether it is the minister responsible for the Quebec City area, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent or the member for Beauport—Limoilou—have been completely irresponsible. Since I have been asking questions here in this House, the government has been trying to mislead the people. The members say that the government is concerned about the health of the people in the Quebec City area, that it has corrected the problem, worked hard and put in place viable solutions and that the Mayor of Shannon is satisfied. They wonder why the Bloc is not.

It is extremely simplistic and insensitive to say that. We know what it means to have contaminated water in Shannon. We know that the incidence of cancer is much higher than in the general population. There are 12 cases of cancer for every 100 people, whereas you would expect to find only a single case in the general population. In addition, Dr. Juneau, the attending physician who monitored the population from 1960 to 1997, was alarmed at the number of cancer cases in some parts of Shannon, where wells were contaminated. Often, people in these areas developed one, two or three cancers.

This is an important evening, therefore. We have changed interlocutors to another member representing a South Shore riding. I would like to see him show a little sensitivity in this matter and to see him also reach out a helping hand to the Shannon citizens' coalition. Those people have not been met with. We are well aware that funding was given to reconnect the Shannon water system to a safe water supply. The former government had settled things so that the matter could not be reopened. But as it happened, no uncontaminated and accessible source could be found. The investigational work cost a great deal. So more demands were made to the government. Had it not been for the Radio-Canada program Enquête, this government would never have budged. The minister for the Quebec regions' answer was that the people had instituted a class action and this was before the courts. The local people are taking steps toward a class action, but it is not before the courts. That is just a phoney excuse for not moving on this.

What needs to be done is to say that people will be compensated and that, finally, the government's responsibility will be acknowledged. In actual fact, it was National Defence that contaminated the water sources in 1950 by releasing TCE into permeable soil. The water table problems are now affecting others. We know that the problem is spreading as far as Val-Bélair, where one microgram of TCE per litre has been found in the soil . Moreover, the mayor of Quebec City has approached National Defence and told it that this is not his city's problem, but a DND problem. People would like to see this government acknowledge its responsibility.

There is a petition circulating at the present time, and people will be surprised how many everywhere in Quebec are now aware of this problematical situation.

I would therefore like to see a helping hand reached out to the Shannon citizens' coalition, and I would like to see the government tell the coalition that it is going to acknowledge its responsibility. We are now able to make the connection between the development of cancers and TCE.

7:20 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we know that the member opposite is concerned about this issue, and so are we. This government is working effectively to protect the citizens of Shannon. The health and safety of the people of Shannon, Quebec and all of Canada are of the utmost importance to our government. As we have indicated on February 25 and March 4, 2009, we have been fully transparent and our government reacted quickly by announcing an investment of $13.3 million to help modernize the water supply system in Shannon. The Bloc Québécois member expressed satisfaction at the time with the amount granted by our government.

It is important to add that the mayor of Shannon publicly acknowledged our great work and our government's efforts. If the mayor is satisfied and the member is satisfied, why bring up again a matter that is currently before the courts?

I should point out that the people of Quebec are expecting their elected representatives to act. That is precisely what we are doing, and we will continue to do so. If I may, I might add that our government has striven steadfastly to defend the interests of the people of Shannon. We have put forward a viable solution. The people of Shannon are now reaping the benefits of our government's efforts and the attention the Conservatives pay to Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois has accused our government of not caring about the people, the human factor, in this matter. It should be ashamed to speak such nonsense, because our government said it was sensitive to and concerned about the situation affecting the citizens of Shannon. We appreciate their concerns.

Besides, the Bloc Québécois is only concerned about an hypothetical judicial settlement that has not completely gone through the court process. They should let the judges and lawyers do their jobs. Is it suggesting that we ignore the judiciary and what the courts say?

This matter is among our priorities, and our government is staying abreast of the development of the situation. The Bloc Québécois should show empathy and decency, and sincerely care about what the citizens of Shannon are going through, instead of trying to play petty politics with this whole issue. The courts are doing their job, and the Bloc Québécois should do the same.

7:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, I am getting the same answer I got two weeks ago about the issue of contaminated water in Shannon. I save my empathy for the people in Shannon who are living with cancer. I work with the Shannon citizens' coalition, and I know what people there are thinking. In Val-Bélair, when they found out there was one microgram of TCE per litre in their well, they made some noise and said they would rather have zero micrograms of TCE per litre.

We need to compensate the people and tell them that we bear some responsibility. I do not have time to go into detail, but I know this has been done in the United States. The merchant marine went beyond what this government is doing. It tried to do the research itself. It did not leave it up to people who had drunk contaminated water to find soldiers who had worked on the base—

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it necessary once again to remind the Bloc Québécois member that our government took action by putting forward a viable solution that corresponds perfectly to the expectations and needs of the mayor and citizens of Shannon. Our government took action to defend the interests of the population.

The Bloc members' unfounded comments do not at all serve the interests of the municipality's citizens. Our government is extremely sensitive to and concerned by the situation in Shannon. That is why we are working very hard to speed up payment of the $13.3 million.

I would like to add that we understand the concerns of the citizens of Shannon. However, the member for Québec needs to be reminded that it would be ill-advised for us to comment directly on a case that is before the courts. The Bloc Québécois must wait for the judges and the lawyers to do their work. I therefore invite the member to do the same rather than meddling in—

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

April 22nd, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Independent Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rose back in February and then again later on regarding an issue that is of great concern to the people in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick around the Bay of Fundy, and that is the rising sea levels as an effect of global warming.

Right off the bat, I want to thank the Minister of the Environment for his prompt response, both in trying to understand the problem and bringing the people that needed to understand it, and then also the actions he took to start the process to assess the potential damage. It is exactly what should have been done and I appreciate his actions very much.

This all came from a study done by the United Nations panel on climate change, which identified the Bay of Fundy as one of the two regions in Canada, and in fact all of North America, which would be most vulnerable in the case of rising sea levels, which is accepted now as something that will happen. There are different versions of how bad it will be and exactly when it will happen, but it is very consistent. All of the studies by academics, the Government of Canada, and the United Nations panel on climate change predict that sea levels will rise. It is just a matter of how much and when.

It does not matter how much it rises in the Bay of Fundy, it is going to cause damage. Communities, like Advocate, which are actually below sea level at high tide and are only protected by a dike system will be flooded if the sea levels rise any amount at all.

I do believe that the Bay of Fundy will be affected more than any other region because everything is exaggerated in the Bay of Fundy. A tide which is six or seven feet high outside of the Bay of Fundy can be 30, 40, or even as high as 50 feet in the Bay of Fundy, so any rise in sea level will have an exaggerated effect at the head of the Bay of Fundy. Many communities in Nova Scotia, such as Truro and Advocate, Parrsboro, and many in New Brunswick, such as Moncton, Dorchester, Memramcook and Sackville, will be very vulnerable to extensive damage.

I asked at the time if the minister and his officials would start a process to do a review. They have now, I understand, developed a process where they are going to map the present dike lands between Amherst and Sackville, which is the right thing to do. They are going to do a projection of sea level rise. They are going to do coastal erosion rates. They are going to build a model to reflect the sea level rise and they are going to identify the dikes, infrastructure, buildings and communities that are going to be at risk.

Again, I believe that this is exactly the right thing to do and the right steps to take in the right order, so I do not have many pointed questions for the distinguished parliamentary secretary, but I would like to ask him if he has any more information on this study.

My understanding is that there has been $800,000 set aside to do this study on the area in the Bay of Fundy between Amherst and Sackville, which is generally agreed will be the most vulnerable because it is at a very low sea level there. I wonder if he has any information that he could share with the House, and if he does not, could he agree to provide it at a later date.

7:30 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague across the way for his good question. Our government will continue to partner with the Atlantic provinces to address the threat of coastal erosion in the region.

As the hon. member pointed out, the intergovernmental panel on climate change provided strong evidence in its most recent report in 2007 that a key concern in many regions of the world is the threat of increasing coastal erosion.

Also in 2007, our government released a report published by Natural Resources Canada titled “From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007”. The Atlantic chapter of this report included the following statements:

Atlantic Canada will experience more storm events, increasing storm intensity, rising sea level, storm surges, coastal erosion and flooding.

Over the past century, sea level in the Atlantic region has risen approximately 30 cm. Areas such as the coast of southeastern New Brunswick could experience sea-level rise on the order of 50 to 70 cm during the current century 2000 –2100. Continued sea-level rise will amplify storm surges and flooding in the Atlantic region.

The Bay of Fundy is not uniquely sensitive to this. Many other parts of Atlantic Canada are also highly sensitive coastlines. Two significant reports on the impacts of sea level rise in New Brunswick and P.E.I. have already been undertaken and further work within individual communities is under way to develop a program on adapting to sea level rise and other coastline stresses related to climate change.

It is essential that our response to climate change encompass both adaptation and mitigation: adaptation so that we are better prepared to deal with the coming impacts of climate change, and mitigation to reduce the rate and scale of those changes in the future. Reducing the vulnerability of our coastlines to sea level rise and storm surges is an important component of our adaptation response.

In such efforts we should not focus on a single coastline, but must look comprehensively at the vulnerabilities of all regions along our coastlines. Building protective structures or barriers is but one option among many. I am encouraged by the recently established regional adaptation collaboratives, a program being led by the climate change impacts and adaptation program of Natural Resources Canada, and anticipate that much of the necessary planning to reduce the vulnerability of the Atlantic coastline will continue with this initiative.

7:35 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Independent Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his answer, but that is quite a list of potential, frightening damage that we have to look forward to.

He is right, it is not only the Bay of Fundy, it is the entire coastline on the Atlantic and Pacific, but there are numerous studies that identify that the Atlantic Canadian coastline will suffer higher sea level rises than anywhere else because of changes in currents as well as and in combination with the rising sea level.

The potential damage that the parliamentary secretary just outlined confirms what we have been saying and what our concerns are, and I appreciate him doing that, but he also said that there are other coastlines that are vulnerable. The Government of Canada study that he referred to is really frightening in the extent of the damage.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is well aware of the impacts of climate change. That is why we are committed to taking action. By establishing the regional adaptation collaboratives, we can more effectively take coordinated and sustained action to reduce our vulnerability to climate change by advancing adaptation planning and decision making.

Working with President Obama to establish a clean energy dialogue, we will also be working closely with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders to develop a coherent national climate change and energy security strategy.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:38 p.m.)