Mr. Chair, I want to thank all my colleagues here on the government side for being with us tonight and doing such a great job. We have a great team here. It is 1:20 Wednesday morning, and it gives me great pride to work with my colleagues.
I want to speak about our plan for oil sands monitoring.
Over the last year, Canada has weathered economic storms, and few other countries in the world have succeeded in the same way we have. Oil sands and oil sands development have had an important part to play in this. They are an extremely important resource for Canada and a key driver of our economic development.
Our country's oil reserves, 97% of which are found in the oil sands, are third only to major producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in proven national oil supplies. The oil sands sector accounts for 2% of our GDP and accounted for more than $17 billion in capital investment in 2010.
Equally important to this government is that the oil sands are developed in an environmentally responsible way. While the leader of the opposition will travel across this country and try to tell Canadians it is okay to slander people in one region, who work in one sector, against people in another, Canadians know different. They know we are united under one banner.
We are united under an economy that provides jobs and opportunity for Canadians in an equal way. This equality, this unity, is something our government stands for, and as a government member, I am certainly proud to stand here tonight and talk about responsible resource development that will ensure jobs and economic growth for years to come for this country.
The sustainable development of Canada's oil sands will require discipline, focus and co-operation to protect the environment while realizing the full positive potential for all Canadians. That is exactly what our government is committed to doing.
Last July, we released our integrated environment monitoring plan for the oil sands, a plan that was developed in partnership with leading environmental scientists from across Canada. It outlined the elements needed for a world-class monitoring program with a comprehensive approach that covers water, air and biodiversity. Then in February, we released a joint implementation plan describing how we would work with the Government of Alberta and industry, in consultation with other key stakeholders, to put a world-class monitoring program in place.
Rather than slander the sector, we worked with the stakeholders, we worked with industry and we worked with the communities to put together a plan that would ensure this monitoring system was put in place in a sustainable way.
This plan will make Canada's oil sands monitoring among the best in the world. It optimizes existing provincial and federal environmental monitoring for water, air and biodiversity and is being carried out in an efficient manner as we utilize infrastructure that is in currently place. Monitoring will be comprehensive and integrated. We will seek advice from all stakeholders as we deliver on this plan. Implementation will be tracked through annual progress reports.
This new program will be subject to external scientific peer review at the end of the three-year implementation, and periodically thereafter. Therefore, in spite of what the opposition will say, there will be external peer review as part of this process.
This will ensure that we build and maintain one of the best environmental monitoring systems anywhere in the world. This is a democratic free country where we have oil reserves that are under a democratic government with a world-class oil sands monitoring program.
This collaboration and informed discussion are the cornerstones to success for an undertaking as complex and as important as the oil sands monitoring development project. We will make the system highly transparent. We will ensure that scientific data that is collected from our monitoring and analysis is publicly available with common quality assurance practices in place. As we move forward with the implementation of this program, we will continue to engage stakeholders, so they are informed each step of the way.
The governments of both Canada and Alberta have already committed significant resources to environmental monitoring. Industry has indicated it is willing to provide the additional funding required to implement the new monitoring activities and is working with the two governments to establish sustainable funding arrangements for the program.
Our plan for the oil sands monitoring is a direct result of the fact that this government listened and acted. We listened to environmental monitoring experts when they raised concerns about possible environmental impacts of the oil sands. We acted. We listened to an environmental advisory panel that recommended we develop a world-class, scientifically credible and trusted monitoring reporting system, which the Environment Commissioner noted as such in committee testimony.
We listened to Canadians who support the environmentally responsible development of this economic resource. We look forward to the next 12 months as our government is keenly interested in striking the right balance between economic renewal and environmental protection.
As we close off this hearing tonight, I think it is really important to note that our government is not interested in rhetoric or inflaming different regions against each other.
We want to ensure that our country is prosperous. We have seen the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs since 2009. We have a plan to ensure that economic growth is created, and the energy sector is part of that. We are balancing that with a firm environmental stewardship plan that is funded in this budget. We have all sorts of excellent metrics in place through the oil sands monitoring program. We need to ensure that the rhetoric that is put in place by the NDP is not something that Canadians take to heart. This is about the sustainable development of our energy sector.
As an Albertan and as a Canadian, I certainly hope that my constituents' voices and the voices of all Canadians who are impacted by this important sector are listened to by the NDP and that the NDP will not continue this harmful, disuniting practice of pitting workers in one region against the other.
When we look at the government's track record, millions of dollars have been invested into programs that have created positive environmental impacts. My colleagues tonight have talked about the Lake Winnipeg Basin and the local conservation groups that we are supporting. Right now we are travelling across the country in the environment committee, but the NDP is not talking about that, listening to Canadians and talking about how we can engage local conservation groups in creating a national conservation plan framework, something that we committed to in our throne speech.
Instead of the Liberal Party that puts forward plans, grand international accords and sees greenhouse gas emissions rising, we are actually taking action. The most recent greenhouse gas emission trend report came forward. It showed that for the first time we are seeing economic growth in this country, and the stabilization of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Listening to Canadians and industry and coming up with a plan that balances economic growth with environmental stewardship is something that is prudent, it is something that Canadians want and it is something that I am certainly proud to support.
I am proud of our environment minister and proud of our team here.