House of Commons Hansard #210 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was regulation.


Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-400 and I wish to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, on all her hard work on this matter.

In 2013, between 150,000 and 300,000 people are living on the streets in Canada, and another 2 million suffer from food insecurity. According to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, 4 million Canadians, 750,000 of them children, are coping with pressing housing needs. The situation is particularly worrisome in aboriginal communities. I saw this first-hand when I went to visit Attawapiskat. Over-crowding and substandard housing are posing significant sanitary and social risks.

It is hard to create a healthy environment for children to grow up in when eight people are living in a house built for four. In a supposedly rich and developed country like Canada, this situation is pretty dismal. The fact that millions of Canadians—mainly women, children, aboriginal people, seniors and new Canadians—are having a hard time meeting such a basic need as housing is sad and shocking. A home is so much more than a roof and four walls.

Having adequate housing makes it easier to find employment, promotes family integration and helps improve self-esteem.

In the Ottawa-Gatineau region alone, nearly 12,000 families are waiting for social housing. The wait can sometimes be up to eight years. And that does not seem to be improving. With the cost of living going up and wages stagnating, Canadian families are increasingly having a hard time making ends meet and finding adequate housing. When they do manage to find housing, they must sometimes make sacrifices elsewhere, to their food budget, for example.

Every month, 900,000 Canadians use food banks. This is a 31% increase over 2008 levels. I bring up the issue of hunger in Canada because it is closely linked to housing. When someone on a low income has to pay a high rent, there is less money remaining to put food on the table. A single mother earning minimum wage has a hard time finding adequate housing at market prices in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, for example. Some manage to do so, but they must sometimes choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. Some spend up to 70% of their income on rent, which leave very little to spend on children's clothing or school supplies.

That is one of the reasons why the House must pass this bill. To effectively combat poverty, we must tackle the access to housing problem head-on. It is high time for Canada to implement a national housing strategy, as proposed in the bill from my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. Canada is currently the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy.

It is unacceptable for us to socially and economically abandon millions of Canadians on the side of the road. As the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said:

Chronic homelessness and lack of affordable housing are not just social issues; they are core economic issues. They strain the limited resources of municipal governments and undermine the economic well-being of our cities-the engines of national economic growth, competitiveness and productivity.

The federation, which represents 2,000 Canadian cities, has clearly indicated that every dollar invested in housing creates a $1.40 increase in GDP. It is a win-win situation.

This is true from a social and economic viewpoint, but also an international one.

Canada is a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and has international obligations with respect to housing.

In a report on housing, the United Nations singled out Canada for its delay in meeting its obligations concerning social housing and fighting homelessness.

A national housing strategy would allow Canada to send a clear message to the UN and all its G8 partners.

We have to do more than just make an investment in order to fulfill our obligations and to deal effectively with the problem of access to housing. We have to make an intelligent investment based on a national strategy that will take into account the specific needs of our communities.

If Bill C-400 is passed, and I hope it will be, the minister responsible for CMHC will have to develop a strategy in co-operation with the provinces, municipal representatives, aboriginal communities, providers of housing and concerned civil society organizations.

We need leadership from the federal government on this issue, but above all we need the government to work together with the stakeholders concerned.

The Conservative government has already shown, in the health file for example, that it is not very open to working with the provinces.

That must change if it wants to find lasting solutions to problems such as access to housing.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak to this particular bill today. I cannot help but make some comments on some of the earlier speeches. There are some within the chamber, generally speaking from the New Democratic side, who take pride as if they were the ones taking the moral high road on housing and a national housing standard. Once again, I think they could be accused of throwing stones in a glass house. I have had opportunities speak in favour of national housing and the important role that Ottawa should play. One of the individuals I have debated the subject with was the former member of Parliament Bill Blaikie from Winnipeg's north end, who said it was more about a provincial than a national standard. I used to be the housing critic for a number of years. One of the difficulties I had was trying to convince the provincial New Democrats to invest in non-profit housing.

One of the issues we have to look at is that there are many different forms of non-profit housing. We could talk about housing co-ops, life-leases, housing for 50-plus seniors, infill housing, residential rehabilitation programs, or shelter allowances, all of which play a critical role in making housing affordable for Canadians and getting them engaged in the issue and feeling good about their homes.

No political party stands front and centre on this issue. At any given point in time, government has dropped the ball. There is no question that government could be doing a lot more with respect to non-profit housing.

I am very disappointed by the lack of leadership from the Conservative government in dealing with this critical issue for all Canadians. My Liberal colleague stood in support of the bill that is before us, and calling into question the Liberal Party on this issue, I believe, is wrong. Some of the greatest investments in non-profit housing occurred during the 1970s. I would remind the member that when Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada, he invested in non-profit housing. The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to non-profit housing and building non-profit housing because we recognize that shelter is important for all Canadians. I also look to individuals like Lloyd Axworthy as someone who for years advocated the importance of shelter allowance programs, not only inside the Manitoba legislature but also here in Ottawa.

There needs to be co-operation on the housing file. We need to have provincial governments working with Ottawa to be able to develop housing programs that make sense. If we look at the province of Manitoba, where there are in excess of 19,000 non-profit housing units of a wide spectrum, that would not be possible if it were not for the millions of dollars of investment that come from Ottawa to provide that non-profit housing. It is an annual operational grant that does that.

My concern is when mortgages come due. What will we be doing with that money going forward? We have advocacy groups throughout this country that want to ensure that the moneys that do come available are in fact reinvested in non-profit housing. However, it is more than just throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into blocks A, B, C and D. It is about looking at ways in which we can get the public, the non-profit groups that are out there, to also invest in non-profit housing.

There are many non-profit agencies out there that could assist in playing a strong role. All they are looking for is leadership from Ottawa to say that, yes, we need to have a national strategy and we are prepared to work with the provinces and pool the money together and engage some of these non-profit organizations. In every region of our country, we would find a high level of interest because they, like most, if not all parliamentarians, want to see affordable housing for all Canadians. We want to ensure that there is a basic standard.

When we talk about a national housing strategy, it is about more than building homes. Our housing stock in Canada needs to be maintained. We need to have revitalization programs. We need to work with cities. At the city level, they have the ability to reach into the individual communities through residential rehabilitation programs. These programs would make a difference. Through the private sector, individuals would invest in their homes. It would also create jobs when that type of investment occurred. It would maintain the housing stock.

We used to have a rental program. Through the rental rehabilitation assistance program, landlords had access to pools of money they could invest in rental stock.

Winnipeg is not alone. In many different communities there is a dire need for renovations. We need to start talking about initiatives the government could be taking to provide incentives for them to take place.

We also need to recognize that there are many different good ideas in different provinces. That is the reason the federal government has a role to play. We need to adopt a national housing strategy.

I look forward to the debate, although I suspect that it will be coming to an end relatively quickly. It would be nice to see the bill go to committee for the simple reason that there are many different stakeholders, like me, who have strong opinions on the issue.

They would like to see strong leadership. That leadership needs to come from the Prime Minister. There needs to be a commitment from the Prime Minister that whether one is living in an older community, in a suburb, on a reserve or in a rural community, and no matter what part of the country one lives in, housing and the standard of housing is of critical importance. It is one of the basic needs residents in Canada have. As members of Parliament, there is an obligation for us to ensure that we do the best we can to ensure that housing stocks are not only expanded but are improved.

I would not want any government of any political stripe to forget about the many agencies and non-profit groups that contribute to enabling individual residents to own a home or, in many cases, to afford to rent a place and to improve the quality of the home they reside in.

There are an endless number of individuals right across this country who want to see something happen on this file. That is the reason I would suggest that the government allow the bill to go to committee. If the bill goes to committee, it will afford the opportunity for representation by those who really want to see something develop. Let us see what happens at committee stage. That is why I would suggest that it is in our interest to see the bill pass second reading and go to committee. It is something that is in the best interests of all residents of Canada. I hope that as many members as possible will see the bill ultimately pass so that it can go to that stage.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, a housing forum was held in my riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, in September. Before this forum began, a woman in a wheelchair handed the three New Democrat MPs in attendance a sheet of paper. The paper contained just five words: “family, shelter, food, career and health”. The woman asked each of us to take a moment to visualize what each word meant in our lives. Then she asked us to take a pen and eliminate one. The woman said, there is no choice; one has to go. Then she asked us to eliminate a second word and then a third.

They were tough choices. Even hypothetically, the choices were impossible. I eliminated career first, then my own health, and then food. I was left with family and shelter. I remember the exercise leaving me with a feeling of desperation in the pit of my stomach. The woman said the point of the exercise was for MPs to imagine it. Her point was that she is living it. That was a powerful point.

There is a housing crisis. Even in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the economy is booming, there is a housing crisis. This week there are stories in the news back home about two men struggling to make ends meet. They are struggling to meet housing costs in a boom town. Rental costs have gone up by more than 18% in the St. John's area over the past four years, which translates into some people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

According to the Single Parents Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, rent for a three-bedroom unit four or five years ago was around $650, and now it is up to $1,100 to $1,300 a month. From $650 a month to $1,300 a month in four or five years is an incredible increase. People are having a hard time coping with that. In many cases, they are not coping. Their income is constant; their rent is not constant.

The stories in the news back home this week are about two men. One is a single father with a young daughter getting by on worker's compensation. The other story is about a single man making minimum wage. These men are having an incredibly hard time getting by because of the rent.

The man on worker's compensation has a total income, including his daughter's baby bonus, which he pointed out, of $1,479 a month. His rent alone is $1,200 a month, so he has $279 a month for everything else. His daughter does not take a lunch to school because there is no money for that, and he pointed that out as well.

The single man making minimum wage heats only one room in his apartment, and he hangs blankets in the doorways to keep in the heat. His rent is going up on March 1 by another $75. Where will that money come from?

Right now that original list of five choices—food, shelter, health, family and career—has a very real face, a desperate face.

During the 2011 federal election, I remember knocking on the homes of seniors in the middle of the afternoon. They would often come to their doors in coats and jackets. They wore coats and jackets inside their homes in the middle of the afternoon because they could not afford to turn on the heat. These are the kinds of decisions that people are being forced to make. Rents are continually increasing, and for people, seniors, on fixed incomes that means something has to suffer. Food suffers. Heat suffers. Medications suffer. People often do not buy the medicine they need because these are the choices they are forced to make.

Labrador City is another boom town in Newfoundland and Labrador. The mining industry, specifically the iron ore industry, is doing very well. The vacancy rate in Labrador West is almost zero. The local college offers a mining course that practically guarantees employment upon completion, but classes are not full because there is no place for students to live.

We heard stories about how women remain in abusive relationships because there is nowhere else to go.

I also visited Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the past year. That is another place that is absolutely booming. The average income is $100,000. The average family income is $180,000 a year. However, the cost of rent is astronomical. A new three bedroom home with a double car garage and an unregistered apartment can go for between $700,000 to $900,000, so we can imagine the cost of rental units. In the meantime, the income threshold for low-income housing is about $80,000 a year.

There is a housing crisis in St. John's. There is a housing crisis in Labrador. There is a housing crisis in Alberta. There is a housing crisis across Canada.

Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, which is what Bill C-400 is all about. What does it cost? It costs nothing. It costs no money. It simply requires the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to work in collaboration with the provincial ministers responsible for housing, with representatives of municipalities, with aboriginal communities and with housing providers in the non-profit and private sectors. It requires all of these groups to work together to establish a national housing strategy.

How does that not make sense? That is smart governance.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 Canadians are homeless. They have no place to live. Three million Canadians live in housing insecurity, including 27,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and almost 9,300 in St. John's South—Mount Pearl and St. John's East alone.

The Conservatives have said that their commitment to safe and affordable housing has helped over 775,000 Canadians since 2006. The Conservatives claim that their investment in housing has led to the creation of 46,000 affordable housing units. At the same time, waiting lists across the country for social housing are consistently getting longer and vacancy rates are dropping to record lows everywhere.

Bruce Pearce of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network has described the bill as a life-saving bill. He said that Atlantic Canada would be hardest hit by the absence of a national housing strategy because there are fewer support networks in rural communities. There may be loads of shelters, for example, in downtown Toronto, but not so in places such as downtown Mount Pearl or places like it.

In areas of Canada that are doing well, where the economy is sizzling, the poorest people are suffering because of the increased cost of living, because of increased rents, because of increased everything across the board.

There was another story in the news recently back home of how 30 tenants in a low-income apartment building in St. John's were worried that they would soon be homeless. Their building is to be redeveloped into condominiums and they have until the end of April to move out. It will not be easy for those 30 families to find another place to live. One tenant stated, “Every time they put up the rent, that's less food you have every month, or it's a light bill you can't pay”.

Yvette Walton, the head of Newfoundland and Labrador's Single Parent Association told CBC news this week that rent is rising too quickly on the Northeast Avalon, which is on the extreme east coast of Newfoundland. She said that it was causing huge amounts of stress, especially for single parent families and that the solution is more affordable housing. That is where a national housing strategy would come into play.

Let me bring this back full circle. With respect to family, shelter, career, food, health, which ones can we live without? As MPs we are imagining it, but there are people who are actually living it. Maybe living is not the right word. Existing may be a more fitting term. It is those people who Bill C-400 is designed to help.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In that we will have enough time left for the right of reply, we have about five minutes remaining for the intervention by the hon. member for Vancouver East.

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak briefly today to Bill C-400. We hear the passion in the speeches today about why we have to get this bill through, a bill for an affordable housing strategy in our country.

I want to thank my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador and others who have spoken in the House today on their experiences and perspective about why the bill is so critical. It is critical because we understand that safe, appropriate, affordable housing is a basic human right in our country. If people do not have it, as the hon. member just said, there is not much else they can do in their life. Whether it is work or income, if people do not have safe, affordable, appropriate housing, it is very difficult to get by.

The bill has had a very long history. I first introduced the bill in 1998. I was so hopping mad when I came to Parliament in 1997 because it was the Liberal government in 1995 that cut out our very successful national housing programs. When the member for Winnipeg North got up on his high horse and said that the Liberals had shown leadership and this was a great issue, it was his government that cut our programs. They were good programs and, yes, we could go back to the seventies and the eighties. They were housing programs that municipalities and non-profit societies used. We had excellent co-op housing, not-for-profit housing, seniors housing, special needs housing and what did the Liberals do? Balancing the budget on the backs of poor people, they cut out housing programs. Ever since that historic day, we have suffered because we have not had a national housing program.

The bill in the last Parliament was almost passed, but the election happened and the bill was died. Here we are again. However, we are determined and committed to keep this issue alive and not give up on the fact that we need a national housing strategy. It is a responsibility of the federal government to work with the provinces, territories, first nations, municipalities and other housing providers to bring about such a strategy. The bill is all about that.

I have heard all the arguments from the other side that government is doing it. The fact is the government had some money for about two years as part of the recession economic plan. However, since then, it has not put any money into an affordable housing plan.

I recently dealt with a group in my riding that was trying to get some money under the homelessness strategy, which does still exist. This was a church group which had its own money, land and needed some support from the federal government, but it was turned down. Why? The group was told that its development was affordable housing and therefore it could not be supported because it was not homelessness.

What kind of crazy system is this? Yes, we need to provide shelters. In metro Vancouver we have a dire situation of growing homelessness, particularly among the aboriginal community, people who cannot find shelter. However, we also need a longer term program. We cannot have people living in and out of shelters. Shelters have become permanent housing for people. That is no solution whether it is in Toronto, Vancouver or Mount Pearl, wherever it is.

I want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, for bringing forward the bill again. The New Democrats are here today to say that we will fight tooth and nail to get the bill through. There is tremendous support in the community. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, major organizations, over 60 organizations have supported the bill, not because they like us, because they know this has to be done. This is about a fundamental issue in our country of people who are suffering simply because they do not have access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing. We will keep this going and ensure that the bill gets through.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have put a lot of thought into what I will say about this bill before the House makes a decision at second reading.

I could recap my colleagues' arguments that added to the discussion and enriched debate. I could repeat the troubling statistics that reflect the serious shortage of affordable housing. I could quote from the scathing UN special rapporteur's report, which ranks Canada quite low. I could remind the House that we are the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy. Or perhaps I could talk about the co-operatives that are worried about the end of federal government operating agreements and the impact that will have on their low-income renters.

However, I feel it is more important that the House hear about the many measures being taken by civil society organizations to demonstrate the importance of a national housing strategy.

Dignity for All, which works to eliminate poverty in Canada, launched a widespread movement in support of Bill C-400. The organization dedicated part of its website to the movement and launched a massive letter campaign. As we speak, representatives from this organization are trying to rally more people and elected officials around this cause.

The National Union of Public and General Employees, and its Women 4 Change initiative, also supports the bill. On its website, it encourages its 300,000 members to sign the petition in support of this bill and to write to their MPs to urge them to back the bill.

All kinds of organizations have done the same thing. The academic community is speaking out. Groups such as the Canadian Federation of University Women and the École de services publics at Université de Saint-Boniface have done their part, as have many religious organizations throughout Canada including the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Catholic Women's League, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada, and the Canadian Religious Conference. All these organizations have taken steps to raise awareness and convince the House to pass Bill C-400.

In a last-ditch effort, the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain, or FRAPRU, published open letters in a number of Quebec's daily newspapers. One of these letters was addressed to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. The letter explains the following to the minister:

This strategy would achieve much more than the federal government's ad hoc and clearly inadequate interventions of the past 20 years in the areas of housing and homelessness.

I think this is rather compelling. I do not need to remind the House that Canada is supposed to have its universal periodic review with the UN Human Rights Council in the spring. I am anxious for that to happen. Canada will have to report to member countries of the United Nations human resources committee on its accomplishments in the area of housing. We will be following this.

Many organizations, including the Social Rights Advocacy Centre, have already indicated in their submission regarding this periodic review that Canada needs to create a national housing strategy.

Lastly, my office received a number of letters of support and several hundred pages of petitions from various organizations and individuals across Canada in support of Bill C-400.

I could not possibly thank everyone, since I have only a few minutes, but I wish to commend the following: Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario; AFEAS; CHRA; the Confédération québécoise des coopératives d'habitation; the Canadian Mental Health Association; the National Aboriginal Housing Association; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which represents over 2,000 municipalities; as well as all previously mentioned organizations.

I even have a letter from the Province of Manitoba in support of Bill C-400. I ask the House: what more do we need to pass this legislation?

We must remember this.

Safe and affordable housing is not a privilege, it is a fundamental right.

Secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing is a right. It is not a privilege. It is a fundamental right and it is also a determinant of health.

I encourage my colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-400—although I do not know the exact date of the vote—in order to ensure that all Canadians have access to decent housing.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 7:13 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

Accordingly, the question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members



Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 27, 2013, immediately before the time provided for private members’ business.

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

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

February 13th, 2013 / 7:10 p.m.


Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on an issue that has become urgent to people of northwestern Ontario and all Canadians. It is one that will have a real impact on the health of our fresh waters and our fish stocks but also on the health of citizens, not just in Canada but around the world.

The current government does not believe in science. It does not want science, especially any science that refutes its ideology or its agenda. The closure of the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora, in northwestern Ontario, has been surrounded by secrecy. Questions to the government have only resulted in empty answers devoid of any information. Time is running out. The announced closure of the ELA is only weeks away, with nobody lined up to take it over and continue its important work.

Canadians deserve more than empty talking points. The people of northwestern Ontario deserve more, and specifically the people of the riding of Kenora deserve more. The way the Conservatives have mishandled the ELA is also exhibit A in a larger problem: excessive party control and MPs who represent Conservative interests to their constituents rather than fighting for their constituents' interests in Ottawa. So far, the member of Parliament for Kenora has decided not to stand up for the ELA, despite the fact that a vast majority of his constituents clearly oppose the government's closing of this unique facility in their riding.

Kenora residents are not alone. Opinion polls show that three-quarters of all Canadians oppose the cancellation of funding for the ELA, including 60% of Conservative voters. The member for Kenora has also refused to address the fact that towns and cities across northern Ontario have passed resolutions calling on the government to reverse its decision on the ELA. This includes cities like Thunder Bay, Rainy River, Atikokan, Chapelle, Dorion, Terrace Bay, Sioux Narrows—Nestor Falls, Neebing, Red Rock, Gillies, Hornpayne and more. It also includes major communities in the Kenora riding like Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Lake of the Woods, Ignace and Kenora itself. First nations are against closing the ELA.

There is an overwhelming call for the government to reverse its decision on the ELA. The countless petitions tabled in this House by members from all parties and from across the country, most especially from the people from Kenora, clearly show that. Yet we have never heard the member of Parliament for Kenora rise to present a single ELA petition on behalf of his constituents in this House. It has been left to opposition MPs to present them on behalf of the people in his riding. In fact, the member of Parliament for Kenora has never even uttered the words “Experimental Lakes Area” in this House. Why is this member not fighting for his constituents? Whose interests is the member representing?

The member for Kenora was invited by his own constituents to a public meeting on ELA last year, but he did not show up. I know, because I did, and so did over 100 of his constituents.

Mr. Speaker, it is not too late. On February 18, in Kenora, there will be another public meeting on the ELA at Knox United Church. The hon. member for Kenora has been invited. Will he attend?

On February 4, the member for Kenora was forwarded a petition, signed by over 500 residents of his riding, on ELA. Will he present it? When will this member speak up for his constituents?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to one more time respond about the Experimental Lakes Area.

To summarize, the Government of Canada has made its decision: Fisheries and Oceans Canada will no longer operate the facility. The department recognizes the ecosystem experiments conducted at the Experimental Lakes Area have helped to enhance scientific knowledge of freshwater ecosystems. However, the department is now focusing its scientific work on what is being conducted at other locations across the country to meet its research needs.

The department hopes to transfer the Experimental Lakes Area to another operator that is better suited to managing it and ensuring it is available to scientists in universities or elsewhere who require whole lake manipulations. The department no longer needs to do this type of research.

The research that is conducted at the facility is of interest to many other science-based organizations. This is why departmental officials at Fisheries and Oceans Canada have held a number of discussions with a variety of interested parties. These discussions have resulted in the identification of potential operators. The department remains hopeful that a successful conclusion to those discussions will be reached as quickly as possible.

While Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working to transfer the facility to another operator, the department is continuing to invest in freshwater research in other locations in response to departmental needs. The department maintains an active freshwater fish habitat science program. This research examines fisheries productivity in response to the effects of human activities, including hydroelectric projects and industrial water extraction. In addition, work is conducted to develop tools to assist managers and stakeholders in protecting fisheries.

This past summer, the department invested research funding for a science project to predict and forecast the effects of multiple stressors on fisheries in the Great Lakes. The department also funded research investigating the drivers of fish productivity in fresh water. These projects support commercial, aboriginal and recreational fisheries, and the resulting data will help inform departmental decisions about the aquatic environment and fisheries resources.

In addition to these fish habitat projects, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has invested in science to better understand the risk of aquatic invasive species, a major threat to biodiversity. This supports effective measures to prevent new invasions and mitigate the impact of aquatic invasive species in our freshwater ecosystems. The department is working with the Province of New Brunswick to evaluate efforts to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass from Miramichi Lake, as one example.

In partnership with the United States, the department is managing sea lamprey, through the sea lamprey control program in the Great Lakes.We are also working with the United States to address potential aquatic invasive species. In July 2012, the binational risk assessment for Asian carp in the Great Lakes was publicly released, to help guide Canadian and American prevention, monitoring and control activities. The department is continuing to conduct research on other species of Asian carp.

The department conducts freshwater science activities in various locations across the country, including the Great Lakes, the Fraser River, lakes and streams in the Northwest Territories, Lake Winnipeg and the St. Lawrence River. The department also collaborates with a variety of science partners, including other government departments, provincial governments, universities, industry and non-government organizations. These successful collaborations result in scientific information that the department can use to develop policies and make decisions to support conservation and long-term sustainability.

In conclusion, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to invest in and maintain our active freshwater science program.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are no closer to any answers with that woefully inadequate response.

Let me tell the member what we do know. We know that the DFO has started procedures for decommissioning the ELA, at great cost. We know that no other organization has the resources to pay $50 million to decommission the ELA. We know that the transfer of the ELA to anyone else will require transition funding.

Time is running out. It is mid-February and the facility is scheduled to close on March 31 if no arrangements can be made to keep it open.

I have two simple questions. Will the government extend the March 31 deadline, as is clearly needed? If not, will the government at least commit to bridge financing to keep the ELA open for three to five years until a good partner can take over in an orderly fashion?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, my colleague has his facts wrong. I do not know where he got his figures from, but they are definitely not accurate.

As I said at the outset, the government has made the decision that it will no longer be operating this facility in the future. While the department is winding down its whole lake ecosystem experiments, it is continuing to invest in freshwater science in other locations across the country.

As I described earlier, the department has an active freshwater research program in many priority areas and departmental scientists are conducting research on freshwater fish habitat and aquatic invasive species.

DFO is focusing its use of research-dedicated resources to priority areas and investing in science where it will do the most to achieve the best results for Canadians.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

(The House adjourned at 7:24 p.m.)