Mr. Speaker, giving a speech on Bill C-38, the budget implementation act, is a true honour for me. We are dealing with one of the most substantial budgets in decades and it is extremely important to the future of the country.
Before I get into that, I am very surprised at what I have heard over these last days of debate on the bill. I have heard members say, “That is there, and that may be all right, but there is something hidden, and it is such a big document, we cannot study it”. They say that they do not have enough speaking time, yet the member for Burnaby—New Westminster took 11 hours in a filibuster, which deprived 44 members of a chance to speak to the bill.
What were we to do? Were we to let every member of the House filibuster for 11 hours? We could have been years on the bill. We have to deal with the bill. We hear a lot of nonsense from the members opposite, but quite frankly that nonsense does not cut it. What is in the bill is very significant and important to the future of our country, and it is extremely positive legislation.
I will talk about one part of the legislation, and that is the responsible development strategy. This part of the legislation is truly the most significant change that any government in our country has made in decades. It is extremely important, and I will give hon. members an idea of why I believe that in the 10 minutes I have.
First, we have heard from companies across the country that they want to invest about $500 billion in 500 major projects in the next 10 years. That is a lot of investment. That investment is not just in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. That investment is right across the country. There would be huge investments in Atlantic Canada and in Quebec. In Ontario the ring of fire is a mammoth project. It is almost unimaginable, judging from what we heard from witnesses at our natural resources committee.
This is extremely significant and important legislation, and the part on responsible development is pivotal in the future of the country. It will mean our children and our grandchildren, and even our great grandchildren, will have extremely good, top-notch, top-paying jobs, jobs that are fun to go to every because they are exciting and people can really make things happen. This change in legislation will allow that to happen.
I chair the natural resources committee. We have been hearing from witnesses on various studies, most recently resource development in northern Canada. We did a major study on forestry in Canada. We did a study on the ring of fire in northern Ontario. We have done some fascinating studies and we have heard four main concerns from witnesses on development.
Almost all of them brought forward these concerns. This is not only from business owners and business managers. This is from union leaders who are concerned about future jobs for their members. It is from community leaders. It is from a wide range of people right across the country. They say that these things have to change in order to allow Canada to develop these incredibly good jobs for our children and grandchildren.
From almost all of the witnesses, we heard there was an infrastructure need. Much of that infrastructure the companies themselves are willing to put in place. It is that important to their projects. A lot of resource companies have some cash right now so they are willing to do that. For those who follow, they are willing to make an arrangement so that they pay for the development of infrastructure they put in place.
That includes the obvious things like roads, bridges and that kind of thing. It also includes something else, which is an even bigger problem for many of these natural resources developments, and that is a power supply. They need a relatively small power supply for running a mine, for example, but they need a much larger power supply if they are to add some value right at the site and if they are to refine the ore into one of the end products, or all of the end products. That takes a lot larger electricity supply, and getting that supply is a major infrastructure demand.
Many companies can do that, working with other companies. Some have suggested that maybe there might be some need for either provincial or federal government lending or some such thing, but infrastructure is an important thing.
The second thing almost every witness talked about, and this is not an exaggeration as anybody sitting on the committee would know, is the shortage of skilled workers.
A lot of people think the shortage is only in western Canada. However, that is not the case. The shortage exists in every province and territory in the country. Now it is not in every town. As we know, some communities have very high rates of unemployment. However, that shows another problem that we will start to deal with in the budget implementation act and in our budget. It makes that connection between the areas of relatively high unemployment and the desperate need for skilled workers. I will talk more about how we will do that a little later, but it is a connection that we have gone a long way to make in this budget. We have done some of that over the past few years, but there is more to be done.
As there is an incredible need for skilled workers, we have put more money into post-secondary education, universities, technical schools and community colleges so our kids can get their education closer to home. All of that is helping to solve this problem.
Also, this shortage has become a huge opportunity for first nations across the country. Almost every one of these resource development projects is near or involves a first nation community. We know that in many of these communities there is a high level of unemployment, so this opportunity is there.
Many of our companies across the country are taking advantage of that source of workers by offering not only training but teaching these people how to get into the workplace to get some of the top-notch jobs that are available. That is a benefit of the skilled worker shortage. We are getting first nation people much more involved, sometimes through their own companies and sometimes through working for someone else.
Third, if we are going to have these developments take place in Canada, we have to become more competitive.
Canadians simply are not very competitive. For example, we are not competitive compared to our American neighbours. Therefore, if we want to keep these high wage jobs and if we want to create more, then we have to become more competitive. We have to do that through new innovation, new technology, et cetera. We have a major focus in the budget on exactly that and we will move ahead with it. This third area is of great concern to all companies and we will deal with it along with them, because they often take the lead on that.
Fourth, we need a better regulatory system. These companies have made it very clear that they can either invest their $500 billion in Canada or they can take it anywhere else in the world, and they mean it. They are not married to our country; they can go anywhere. Therefore, we have to ensure we get these projects in Canada and that means improving our regulatory approval system. A lot of the budget is about that. We have to improve the process for not only for large projects, but for small projects as well.
I have heard from municipalities across the country about the difficulty they have when they put a larger culvert in to move water across the road. The cost of doing that is triple in many cases because the regulatory process runs interference.
For large and small projects, we need to have a streamlined regulatory process. Does that mean we will ignore the environment? It is exactly the opposite. Instead, we will have a focused environmental process that will bring together the federal, provincial and local governments, first nations and private business. Together they will go hand in hand sharing information and expertise. The end result will be a better environmental assessment process and there will be more certainly in that process. Therefore, these companies will be willing to invest their money if there is certainty. If they know the government part of the process for a major project will not take more than two years, they can live with that and go ahead with their investment.
I cannot overstate the importance of what is being done through the budget, particularly through the common sense approach to the regulatory process reform. I am proud to stand as a member of the Conservative caucus. I am proud to be a part of what will be the most significant government action taken for generations to come.