Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak tonight on an issue I raised earlier this year with the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
In the Northwest Territories, the biomass energy strategy of conversion of large buildings to this form of energy for heating has been an unqualified success. The program has been carried out for the last two to three years. We are seeing much reduced costs in heating these large buildings. We are seeing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of a considerable amount through the use of biomass energy, mostly from waste products from sawmills in Alberta and British Columbia.
This is a very big opportunity for northern Canada to reduce its cost of living. These opportunities provide energy that is clean and that has very good environmental characteristics in terms of handling and carrying. The wood pellets that are being employed are half the cost of the most common heating feature in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, which is home heating oil. In fact, 175 communities across northern Canada rely almost entirely on this product, which is very expensive.
Therefore, my question for the minister was, as the Department of Public Works and other government agencies have many large buildings throughout northern Canada, did the government have a program or had it considered a program that would convert these buildings in northern Canada to this new-found heating source?
If this were accomplished, we would see that the market for the product would grow very quickly in the three territories. The federal government could be a shining example of how to buy into a successful program. We would see the volumes go up. This is not a small affair. The use of fuel oil in the three territories are in excess of half a billion dollars in costs for heating throughout those three territories, whether in homes, commercial buildings or in industrial facilities.
The federal government's role in this as a promoter of clean energy would be very useful to the north. The conversion of its buildings' heating to wood pellets or this renewable form of energy would provide an extra market for entrepreneurs to develop supply chains to supply this product throughout the north and many smaller users, such as residences and small businesses, would benefit from this transfer.
It is a very simple, straightforward question. Will the government consider this program? Will it work toward the directions that are turning out to be successful in the north and work with northerners to make a better life for ourselves?