Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon to talk about the second budget implementation bill.
Before I get started, I want to inform the House that we had our municipal elections in Saskatchewan last night and we had a lot of great people put their name on the ballot and I want to thank them for doing that. As everybody in the House would understand, it is always tough when we put our name on a ballot and run for something. We go out there and shake hands and talk to people and there are always winners and losers. All people who put their names on ballots are winners, and we really appreciate that they are willing to make that type of sacrifice.
I have a few new mayors, councillors and reeves, and I look forward to working with them. Something I pride myself on when I go back to the riding is that I sit down and talk to our local mayors, reeves, councillors and local MLAs and really get a feel for the priorities of the riding, of the Prince Albert area, and make sure those principles and priorities are represented here in Ottawa.
I also want to thank the mayors and councillors who lost. We appreciate the time they have given to their communities, so I thank them for their years of service. They have committed to their communities and have given a lot, often for very little or no pay, and I want them to know that the people in the riding of Prince Albert appreciate the effort they have given and the sacrifices they made, not only theirs but their families'.
When I talk about the second budget implementation bill, this is nothing new for this government. This is a government that has been focused on jobs and growth of the economy and setting the stage for long-term growth, so when our kids get out of high school and go to university, they have a good platform and good opportunity to get a job and create a good standard of living to raise their family. Those are the things we would put in place through the budget implementation act, which actually would ensure long-term security for Canada and Canadians in the future.
Coming from Saskatchewan, I highlight some of the things that are going to impact the province of Saskatchewan, and of course changes to the agriculture world are very important in Saskatchewan. Mining, production and manufacturing are also increasing in Saskatchewan, but historically Saskatchewan is known as an agriculture province, and we in Saskatchewan all have roots to our agriculture base.
A lot of farmers were appreciative this year, when they went through what was a tough harvest time, of the changes we made through the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, basically allowing farmers the choice and freedom to sell their grains whichever way they see fit. I talked to farmers the last time I was in the riding during the break week and they talked about how they had a choice now. They could take their wheat or their canola and market it today and, because they have options, they can actually plan their cash flows, market the product that makes the most sense and establish the best price for that product at that appropriate time.
It is changes like this that we have made to agriculture that have made the lives of farmers better. We are seeing a lot more young kids going into farming now because there is profitability back at the farm gate.
When we make changes, we have to make more changes, and we have some important changes coming to the Canadian Grain Commission. Some people would say we should make even more changes, but we have to go into this by a step-by-step process and we would do so by a proper process in the budget implementation act.
I will highlight some of the things we would do. We would improve the efficiency by removing outdated commission services. We would streamline regulations, only regulating what is necessary. We would reduce costs for farmers, which is always important. We would have greater international domestic competitiveness for farmers. And we would work toward a more sustainable funding model for the Grain Commission itself. Plus, we would ensure greater dependability of the grain shipments.
These are things that reflect the comments stakeholders have made throughout the consultation process over the last couple of years. We have had different types of changes brought forward to this House. One time, it was hoisted by the NDP because it did not like the changes. The other time it was defeated because we went into a federal election. These changes are very important because right now, looking at the Canadian Grain Commission, the commission and the act are made for something like a horse-drawn carriage when farmers are using Super-Bs. It needed to be modernized to reflect the changes in the agriculture sector and what has happened in the agriculture sector. We have a good balance in the changes, and I look forward to seeing that coming forward either to the finance or the agriculture committee as we move forward.
One of the other things that is important, having seen the results of the problems we have had with the meat issue here in Canada, is protecting Canadian foods. Of course the Canadian Grain Commission does a great job in ensuring that we have a safe handling system, that the standards of quality grain are there and that the quality in the research is also there. They, in part, help shore up that safe-food aspect and this would also be very important.
In Saskatchewan, we have the good old University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina, two great educational facilities that do great research and great work and educate kids all across Canada. For example, in my riding of Prince Albert, there are kids who may go to first year and second year of university in Prince Albert, Nipawin or Melfort but will do their third and fourth years in either Saskatoon or Regina and get a great quality of education. They are some of the best schools in Canada, but they need proper research. What has been done for them, for example, is that the University of Saskatchewan received $4.4 million from the SSHRC to explore past and future environmental sustainability. Those are good research dollars meant for future things.
In agriculture, the scientists at the University of Saskatchewan received $3.4 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, allowing the U of S to remain at the forefront in agriculture research. Of course, there has been general funding in research. If we look at the economic action plan, there is $37 million of annual funding for the granting councils, which enhances their support for industry academic research partnership initiatives.
We are also proposing $60 million for genomics research, which is something I have got to know quite well, especially at the University of Saskatchewan. The genome research it is doing is fabulous. The way it has done that research and is applying it to plant breeding, it used to take 8 or 10 years for a new variety to be developed in plant breeding, and this is bringing it down to 12 to 16 months. It is amazing what it can do with the technology there.
Of course, there is $500 million over four years for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Those are things with which everybody in the House would agree. We need to keep supporting research and we want to make sure the proper dollars are in place to see that research move forward because that will make Canada even stronger.
There is another change that is going to affect Saskatchewan and the municipalities. It is something they have been asking for and lobbying for over quite a few years, and that is changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. A lot of people think the changes to this act will be changes to environmental process. They are not. The environmental process is still separate and something that the rural municipalities will have to deal with on a case-by-case basis.
What is happening in my riding and rural ridings with the Navigable Waters Protection Act is that it is taking a long period of time to approve a project. When small streams or rivers cross roads, the Navigable Waters Protection Act is applied when the roads are rebuilt.
I have a great example from the Rural Municipality of Meadow Lake. It gives an idea of what the rural municipalities are dealing with when it comes to navigable waters. Meadow Lake was trying to put a bridge over a creek. It applied in April of 2010 and did not get approval until November of 2011. It actually missed two construction seasons waiting for approval. When it did get approval on this creek, it was forced to put in a bigger bridge. It had to build up the road bed to accommodate a canoeist to go on the creek. That sounds fine and dandy if there are a lot of canoeists on that creek, but there has never been a canoeist on that creek. If we look at the cost, the time and what the rural municipality had to go through to put that bridge in place, when it could have simply installed a normal culvert, we see it would have saved the municipalities a lot of money and time, plus the road would have got fixed a lot quicker.
There are many examples in my riding where a lot of little bridges need to be replaced. It would make sense if there were bridges over creeks or streams that people used, but in 99.9% of the cases, they do not. This actually brings some common sense into the Navigable Waters Protection Act, so that on small creeks and streams municipalities can install culverts, reduce the costs and make sure there is proper infrastructure for the great big new Super-Bs that farmers use on the roads.
Those are the things in this act that we should highlight. There are many other things in the act itself.
When we think about where Canada is going to be in the future and look around the globe and see what is happening in the U.S., Europe and Greece, I would advise my colleagues to be very careful about changing something that is working. Obviously, what is going on in Canada right now is working. Getting back to a balanced budget is working and Canadians want that. Making sure we have the safety nets and proper health care in place, we already have. We are increasing funding to the provinces. Those types of things are working.
What we do not want to do is disrupt the apple cart and end up like Greece. We need to maintain a responsible government and responsibility in our spending. We need to be targeted and focused, maybe like a laser, as one of my colleagues has often said. What is important is that we keep on the track we are on. It does not matter where one goes throughout the world, it is agreed that Canada is the shining light when it comes to our economy and banking sector. I cannot see why we would want to shake up that apple cart. The wise and prudent thing is to continue what we are doing right now. When we look back on it 5 or 10 years from now, we will all say that by approving this budget implementation act, we helped make Canada a stronger place.