House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was licence.


(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #289

Care for VeteransPrivate Members’ Business

6:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I declare the motion carried.

It being 6.32 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-574, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:30 p.m.


John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am supporting this bill at second reading. It is important to refer the bill to committee because some amendments should be made to the bill, and the committee should hopefully take care of that and then bring it back to the House.

Let me just outline that very quickly with a little background.

The bill is a resumption of a bill that was tabled in 2010, which we also voted on at the time. The bill would require that before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood, while taking into account factors such as cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

I say “amendments” because I am not entirely happy with the wording of the bill where it says “give preference to”. I believe there is a better way to say this, perhaps “compare materials” or something of the kind. I certainly hope there will be some amendments to the bill.

The important part of this bill is not only the use of wood, and I will talk about why that is important in Canada. The government could save money with this bill, using more wood in the construction and repairs of federal buildings.

A life-cycle cost analysis produced by the U.S. defense department some years ago demonstrated that wooden structures cost 40% less per square foot than steel or masonry structures. Construction cost was 37% less for wood. Operation and maintenance costs were 55% less for wood than for other materials. This would help not only our wood industry, particularly the specialty wood industry.

When we think of forest products and the use of wood, and a lot of people think of 2x4s and maybe pulp for pulpwood, and if we are to make our forest industry as diverse as possible, let us think of the construction of buildings, of beams, of curved beams, of the sorts of main parts of structures of buildings where we could find new uses for forest products.

I want to briefly mention what has happened to the forest industry in the last number of years. I will go through some facts and figures because it is very instructive. I will talk about direct employment in our forest industry, meaning those who actually work with the wood. It is usually indicated in the forest industry that for every direct job there are three indirect jobs, so we can extrapolate how important these jobs are, have been and were to Canada, and what we have lost in the meantime.

In general, since 2008, with the big downturn in Canada and the rest of the world, we have lost 30% of its forestry jobs. The hardest-hit provinces were: Quebec, where the losses were 32.3% in direct jobs, and I am not talking about indirect jobs because that would be much more; Ontario, 34.2%; and British Columbia, 29.7%. All of the provinces had a loss. Newfoundland and Labrador had a net loss of 55.8% of its forest industry.

It is incumbent on us in Ottawa to ask how we can move forward with a very vibrant forest industry, which we have and have had, and help to ensure that forest products are used to their fullest extent and with their best possible uses. This bill would go a small way in that direction.

I like to think that the forest industry has perhaps bottomed out in terms of job losses. In my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River, in Fort Frances, the mill closed two years ago and is now going to be completely shuttered, and these losses still continue. In fact. in northern Ontario, if I remember my figures correctly, we lost 44,000 forestry jobs. That was more than half the forestry jobs that we had in northern Ontario. It was a huge loss. That is one of the reasons I am supporting this bill at second reading.

It is important to note that in Canada the national codes, the federal codes, allow for the safe use of wood while providing occupants appropriate protection from fire, earthquakes, or storms, so if people are thinking that wood will not do the job that concrete will do, for example, they should know that it can do the same job.

A bill with these amendments that I was talking about would just make sure that when there is a federal building project, wood would be considered. The bill is not binding. The purpose is really to establish that wood is one of the options available and should be considered.

Annual sales of Canadian forest products are about $57 billion and represent about 12% of Canada's manufacturing GDP. Even with these huge job losses across the country, the forestry sector is still one of the country's biggest employers. It has activities in more than 200 forestry communities. Many of them are in northern Ontario, but others stretch right across Canada. Two hundred communities depend on forestry to provide their tax base, to provide employment, and to make these communities vibrant.

I want to talk about Quebec very briefly. The wood charter has been adopted so that managers of public projects can systematically evaluate the option of using wood in producing a comparative analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of materials. I think it is important to note that wood compares favourably with other building materials, such as steel and concrete, which consume 26% to 34% more energy and emit 57% to 81% more greenhouse gases than wood. As well, on average each cubic metre of wood captures one tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

We can think of it in environmental terms. I talked about cost and I talked about environmental terms, and wood just simply makes sense.

It is important for us in this place to show that we support forestry workers right across this country and that we support the use of local products, provided these products comply with the standards in effect across this country. We want the government to make judicious choices by giving consideration to life cycle and cost analysis when considering wood.

By the way, the government already has a policy on leadership in energy and environmental design. It is called LEED certification. It is a rating system recognized as the international brand of excellence for green buildings.

In any number of areas, the use of wood is something that should be considered. I will be supporting this bill at second reading, hoping to get it to committee where we will see an amendment or two that will make this bill even better and perhaps more palatable in this place. I will be following this bill very closely and, quite frankly, so will Canadians in 200 forest communities right across this country.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:40 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to this private member's bill.

It is not a long bill to read. It is fairly short, but I think it sends a strong message in terms of the importance of wood products and how the use of wood products could be enhanced by the industry as a whole.

We need to recognize that the forest industry is likely one of Canada's oldest industries, dating back to 100-plus years ago. When many communities first began to form, they relied on wood to sustain them. The member who spoke just prior to me made reference to 200 communities. I suspect that when he says 200, that is a minimum number of communities.

I know that in the province of Quebec, for example, there were likely 150-plus communities. An article that I can recall reading said there were many communities in the province of Quebec alone that are very much dependent on wood and recognize the value of our forestry industry. The Quebec provincial government has recognized that value, and now a member in the House from the province of Quebec has introduced this particular bill.

The forest industry goes far beyond the borders of Quebec. It includes all the different regions of Canada. British Columbia is very dependent on its forest industry, which contributes immensely to its economy. People who fly over, drive through, or take the train—which I have not had the opportunity to do to date, though I hope to at some point in the future, as it would be a wonderful experience—get a glimpse of the industry and the potential that is within the industry.

Liberals do not want to minimize the potential of the industry. When I think of the industry as a whole, I see opportunities. I would love for us to explore the potential of exporting our forestry products. I do not think we are anywhere close to reaching the export potential for some of our forestry products, including pulp and paper, the finished products, and even raw logs. I remember some representatives from the Philippines asking me a number of years ago about the export of logs and how they could be utilized in the Philippines. There are all sorts of windows of opportunity in exporting, and we need to explore how we can build upon the industry.

In terms of the raw numbers, the billions of dollars every year that are generated, I understand the contribution of our forestry industry to the Canadian GDP to be very close to half a trillion dollars. We are talking about billions of dollars and literally tens of thousands of good, valuable jobs within the industry. Even though I made reference to Quebec and B.C., there are many provinces that receive the benefits, whether it is northern Ontario or my home province of Manitoba.

Perhaps I can give a sense of the importance of the forest industry to Manitoba. During the 1990s, for example, there were between 5,000 and 7,000 jobs. A significant number of jobs were being created by the hundreds of millions of dollars in exports. At that time, Manitoba's contribution was probably closer to $1.15 million, and today it is $1.25 million. At the end of the day, the province of Manitoba has done exceptionally well with a very strong and vibrant forest industry.

It is an industry that provides a lot of pulp and paper. I would not necessarily want to be quoted on this, but I believe in excess of 50% of our forest industry in the province of Manitoba, maybe even close to 60%, is driven by pulp and paper.

This is something I did look up. In 2008, we had in excess of $450 million in terms of exports. That is why I made reference to the potential that exists in exportation. In Manitoba back in 2008, 85% was being exported to the U.S. Next to the U.S., Europe is a much smaller percentage. When we look at Asia and other countries, it is that much smaller. I would argue that is something in which there is great growth.

Today, it is estimated that we have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 7,000 people in my home province who are employed within the forestry industry. Perhaps that is in pulp and paper, where we have seen an overall decline in demand for the product. There are many different ways in which we can develop our forest industry, especially when we talk about the final product. We can look at ways in which we can take a tree and convert it into something like furniture and then sell the furniture as a consumable item. I look at my own province and the way wood is being used. We have manufacturers of fine, wonderful furniture. We have building supplies. I cannot help but think of prefabrication, whether it is cottages, mobile homes, or windows. There are all sorts of things being prefabricated in my home city of Winnipeg and other communities in Manitoba.

As has been pointed out, there is great consumption of wood in the province of Manitoba for the construction of homes. Depending on the province and location in Canada, we might find that some provinces have a higher per capita usage of wood than other building products. I suspect Manitoba might be at the higher end with respect to the use of wood products. I do not know that for a fact but just from general observations I have made in my travels in Canada.

The economy and the industry is doing relatively well in the province. Having said that, it is important that we recognize the ways we can support our industries in an economic way, keeping in mind that we have many municipalities. We have many municipalities that are fairly dependent on the direct jobs from our forests. If we see any continuation of a downward spiral in the forest industry in certain areas and communities in our country, it can have a devastating impact on our economy, especially when we have one-industry types of town or community that are so dependent on forestry.

That is why, when we see private member's bills such as this, we should at the very least be talking about the importance of the forestry industry. It has a wonderful, lengthy history in Canada. It is important that we do what we can to protect and promote that industry going forward and that we do not take it for granted, because everything I have talked about generally has been with respect to those direct jobs. The indirect jobs easily go into the hundreds of thousands. It is an industry that needs to have more attention from the House.

It is with pleasure that I conclude on that comment.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:50 p.m.


Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we said during the previous debate on this bill, the government is sympathetic with respect to the intent of this bill, and we appreciate the vital importance of the forestry industry to communities not just in Quebec, but across Canada.

We are also happy with the forest sector's contribution to our country's international trading activity, making Canada the second largest exporter of primary forest products in the world, which is why we do not in any way take this legislation or this debate lightly.

This discussion is an important one because thousands of Canadians in communities from coast to coast rely on forestry for their livelihoods. As my father said, forestry as an industry is part of the fabric of our country.

As many hon. members have already noted, the forest sector has been facing a number of challenges over the last few years. For example, today most of us get our news online rather than from reading newspapers. This impacts the demand for newsprint.

A weakened global economy and, until recently, the high dollar have also hurt the international sales of our various forest products.

For these reasons, the government has supported, and will continue to support, Canada's forest sector by continuing to encourage market diversification and the expansion of global markets while providing support to fuel innovation.

In fact, since 2006, the government has provided over $1.8 billion through a number of initiatives to support both the economic competitiveness and the environmental sustainability of Canada's forest sector. That is $4 million a week. Let me list a few examples.

There is FPInnovations, which the Minister of Natural Resources helped to create and which in just seven years has become the world's largest public-private forest products research institute.

There is the $197 million provided over four years under the 2012 and 2013 economic action plans for the forest innovation program. This program is designed to foster innovation and the adoption of emerging technologies by forest companies.

Then there is the $105 million over two years under economic action plan 2012. This is money allocated to support industry sector innovation and market development.

There was also another $92 million dedicated in the economic action plan of 2013 to develop innovative new products and diversify markets.

While speaking of the trade front, the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement has been extended until October 2015, and the new Canada-EU trade agreement will provide Canadian wood products with preferential access to the massive European market.

Considering this is only a partial list of projects, programs and other measures the government has taken, we are proud of its record support to the industry.

Therefore, while we sympathize with the intent of this legislation, this bill has several fundamental flaws which make it impossible for us, in good conscience, to support.

This bill would require the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, before soliciting bids for construction, maintenance, or repair work, to give preference to the use of wood as a building material. On the face of it, this might sound like a good idea to some, but, as outlined in the previous debate, this proposed approach has several problems.

Some procurement principles dictate that solicitation requirements cannot be biased in favour of or against particular goods or services. This includes goods or services related to construction contracts or in favour of or against the suppliers of such goods and services.

These principles of fairness are fundamental to the government procurement process. While giving preference to a particular good or service would certainly provide an advantage to certain suppliers, would we really want the federal government to be seen as blatantly biased in its procurement processes?

These same principles are also reflected in the trade agreements our country has signed. Including a preference for wood products in tender requirements would contravene Canada's trade obligations under a number of agreements, causing us to run afoul not only of international rules but domestic rules as well. In fact, if tenders indicated a preference for the use of wood in construction, it is almost certain that the Department of Public Works and Government Services would quickly find itself before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, whose mission, in part, is to ensure fair and transparent government procurement processes.

The practical effect of this bill is that it would prevent the Minister of Public Works and Government Services from fulfilling her mandate as stipulated in her own legislation, the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act.

By giving preference to the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings, the bill indirectly promotes one sector over other, also essential, sectors of the Canadian economy.

In essence, if adopted, the bill would favour the economies of some regions over others, in direct conflict with the mandate of the Department of Public Works and Government Services, which has procurement processes in place to ensure openness, fairness, and transparency in order to obtain the best value for the Crown.

I would be remiss if I did not remind that House that the bill mimics another bill introduced by the Bloc Québécois almost five years ago. Members who were here then will recall that the previous incarnation of the bill was soundly defeated at report stage in December 2012.

It is interesting to note that at that time, both the official opposition and the third party could not agree on a unified position when it came to this bill. The votes were split along regional and provincial lines, and many opposition members could see that this bill was fundamentally flawed and did not support it.

I admit that 101 opposition MPs voted for it. Their reward? Sixty-nine of them are gone. They remind me of the turkeys who voted for an early Christmas.

Of note, during consideration of the previous incarnation of the bill, my distinguished friend from Winnipeg Centre and the current official opposition critic for Public Works, said:

We really shouldn't be seized of the issue of what kind of flooring we're going to put into the next public building.... I mean, are we going to have a private members' bill to dictate what kind of curtains we put in the next building we build?

To sum up, while we laud the intent of the bill, the bill is fraught with problems. The reasons we cannot support it go to the very core of our responsibility as a democratic government to run procurement processes that are fair and transparent. They also reflect our country's standing as an international trading partner that respects the trade agreements to which we are signatory.

In closing, I am proud of the government's strong support for the forest industry in this country. Our significant investments in the forest sector provide clear evidence of this robust support.

And while we are sympathetic to the intent of this proposed legislation, the bill's fundamental flaws make it impossible for us to support it.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7 p.m.


Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this evening to participate in the debate on this bill because this is a very important issue in the Pontiac. I would like to congratulate the member who decided to introduce it.

It goes without saying that I represent a forestry-oriented riding, and we have been exploiting that resource for a very long time. As soon as the region was colonized, settlers began cutting down trees to provide masts for use in building the British Empire's naval fleet. One of those people was the wood baron, Mr. Bryson, who bestowed his name upon a municipality in my riding. Over the years, the industry gradually switched its focus to pulp and paper.

In the Outaouais, the pulp and paper industry still employs 1,300 people and remains one of the pillars of manufacturing. However, there is no hiding the fact that in my region as in the rest of Quebec, the industry is in crisis. I have a quote here from “2012-2014 Sectoral Outlook — Outaouais” by Marie-Chantale Parent, a Service Canada economist: spite of the erosion of its share of traditional markets. Like printing, it has been affected by competition from electronic media and reduced demand for printed products. In spite of major technological changes introduced to increase productivity, cut unit costs and meet environmental standards, it is unable to withstand competition from emerging countries in foreign markets. While there seems to be no way out of this situation for newsprint producers, the outlook is better for makers of specialized papers, but given the technologies in use, the employment gains are not enough to offset the losses in other segments of the industry. So it is that some 100 jobs are expected to be lost over the outlook period.

That being said, the wood industry has growth potential in the region. As subject matter expert Guy Chiasson wrote in “L'attractivité des territoires ruraux en Outaouais: quel espoir?”, his analysis of the future of rural parts of the Outaouais:

Even though it has been high graded, like many others, the Outaouais forest still has a great deal of development potential, especially because of its vast diversity (presence of many hardwood tree species). As a result of a poorly diversified development model based on primary processing (sawing) for export and dominated (in the case of public forests) by forestry companies and the state, local communities are by and large still not maximizing this potential. The result is that even though they are close to a rather abundant forestry resource, local communities remain in a state of dependency regarding the forest. In other words, they are not really benefiting from it that much in terms of development, and they have little say in how it is managed and developed.

It is therefore crucial to my region and the forestry workers I represent that the government take a serious look at the crisis in the forestry industry in Quebec. The government should be helping sawmills and plants to transform themselves and become more competitive. The funding earmarked for this in the last budget was simply not enough. Compared to the subsidies this government gives to big oil, it is shameful. It is not clear that that funding will reach the vast majority of small sawmills like the ones in Pontiac.

However, the industry will need to develop new markets to grow, when our industry becomes competitive again.

Obviously, developing an internal, domestic market for wood products would be very welcome in the region, which is very close to the national capital region. I am not just talking about international markets gained through free trade agreements where it is not very clear whether the Canadian forestry industry can compete with foreign industries. Creating a larger domestic market for our forestry products is the main purpose of this bill. That is why I support it.

Under the bill, before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services would be required to give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood while taking into account the factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions. That is excellent: the use of wood is required.

For example, a life cycle cost analysis prepared by the United States Department of Defense showed that wooden structures cost 40% less per square foot than those made of steel or masonry. The cost of construction was 37% less for wood, and the operating and maintenance costs were 57% less for wood than for other materials.

The use of wood could also prove to be more environmentally friendly. Increased use of wood can benefit all related areas with the development of biomaterials. We could efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop higher value-added wood products.

Today, composite biomaterials are a remarkable advance that combines the two different types of materials. Export markets and other markets, such as pipelines, can help absorb any changes resulting from the selection of materials that Public Works and Government Services Canada would make. We should remember that PWGSC only represents a small percentage of the Crown's portfolio.

I will begin my concluding remarks. I support the position of the stakeholders in this file. I support, for example, the Canada Green Building Council, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the Quebec Forest Industry Council, the Canadian Wood Council, the Government of Quebec's wood charter and the Forest Products Association of Canada. Like them, I support forestry workers. I support the use of local products, and I am calling on the government to make better choices for the forestry industry.

The reality is that the forestry industry is in full crisis mode in the Pontiac. It needs to transform itself to become more competitive internationally and to offer products that are different from the products that were offered before. To do that, it fundamentally needs a head start.

When we are looking at all of the free trade agreements that the Conservative government is putting in place, has it done the basic work of looking at the weaknesses of our forestry industry? Is it looking at those weaknesses vis-à-vis other forestry powers in the world? I am thinking about the Scandinavian countries. Alternatively, is it just going to basically let products flood our market?

The intent of this bill is welcomed. The creation of a domestic market, albeit a small one, but still part of a domestic market, for the consumption of environmentally-friendly wood products for Public Works projects. It is clear that this would help, but we also need, fundamentally, an investment to allow our industry in Quebec to change. We need capital investment to change in order to become more competitive internationally.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:10 p.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that I live in Mauricie in the riding of Trois-Rivières, I could hardly turn down the invitation to participate in the debate on Bill C-574. This is an important bill that we are debating because it promotes the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings and emphasizes the role that the Department of Public Works and Government Services can play in meeting this objective.

To begin, I would like to say that I support Bill C-574 at second reading because it gives us the opportunity to promote an economically viable renewable resource that can both help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy in my region and my riding. It is a perfect example—as if we needed further evidence—of how economic development and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive but go hand in hand.

That being said, Bill C-574 could have gone much further had it been part of a national strategy for the wood industry. I will come back to that a little later.

Wood is much more energy efficient than steel or concrete. The world's population is increasing as quickly as the demand for resources, so a renewable resource like wood is a responsible choice for consumers and society as a whole.

Furthermore, applied research shows that much less energy is expended to manufacture wood products than to produce concrete, plastic or other materials. A study conducted by a research institute in the United States compared the environmental effects of houses framed with wood, steel and concrete. As one might expect, steel or concrete frame houses produce 26% more greenhouse gases and release far more atmospheric pollutants.

Wood is energy efficient and economically efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, wood structures cost much less than steel or masonry structures.

Environmentally speaking, concrete or steel structures can emit up to 81% more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In other words, concrete and steel are energy guzzlers, while much less energy is used to build largely comparable structures out of wood.

I would also like to point out the importance of the national building code in the development of multi-level wood frame buildings. When the right technical conditions are in place, the national building code authorizes the construction of wood frame buildings as tall as four storeys. It even authorizes some exceptions when justified by the standards. That is a first step in and of itself.

However, the government could also learn more from the national building code and should even take a look at international experience and expertise in this area. Norway, for example, is often cited for the work it does in combatting inequality, and it is also exemplary with respect to the use of wood in construction. In the city of Kirkenes there are plans to build a 17-storey wood frame building. That is far higher than the 4-storey buildings that are permitted under our national building code. I believe it would be worthwhile to at least look at that project.

Countries such as Germany and Sweden do not limit the height of wood frame buildings. Assessing the environmental impact of wood demonstrates that it is, by far, the most environmentally responsible choice, as well as the most economically viable and energy-efficient one.

In addition, the national building code offers options that the minister could use as the basis for increasing the use of wood in the construction of federal buildings. However, after looking closely at this bill, I think—and I said this at the beginning—it could have gone much much further, and the NDP goes further.

My colleague, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, moved a motion calling for a national strategy for the wood industry. As we all know, the drastic drop in demand for construction wood and international competition are the main reasons for the decline of the forestry industry.

According to Forest Canada, the closure of 80 mills resulted in over 11,000 layoffs. It is hard to quantify the human tragedy behind those numbers. Despite the seriousness of the situation, I think that our forestry industry's potential remains largely untapped, just like the potential of Bill C-574.

I would like to point out that Canada has 10% of the world's forest cover and 30% of the world's boreal forest. Those are major natural assets that we can leverage to support a sustainable and competitive economy. In light of that, it is clear that there should be a comprehensive strategy for Canada's forestry sector so that it can achieve its full potential.

I would like to focus for a minute on my riding, Trois-Rivières, which is at the centre of this debate. Just last summer, Kruger launched the first cellulose filament demonstration plant.

I just want to add that the Conservative government is not investing enough in the recovery of the forestry industry, nor is it investing enough in conducting, funding and supporting the basic research required for projects as important as the one I just mentioned.

This new biomaterial, cellulose filaments, is revolutionary. It has huge potential for the Canadian forestry industry because it can be combined with a number of other materials to create high-value products. More importantly, cellulose filaments are becoming indispensable to the Canadian pulp and paper industry.

One can therefore understand my enthusiasm for our local jewel, because it will produce diversified high-value products that are highly sought after by Canadian and international industries. Thanks to this innovation, the pulp and paper industry in Trois-Rivières could recover and fuel the region's economy once again. What is more, the Forest Products Association of Canada could succeed in international markets.

The creativity of the people of Trois-Rivières knows no bounds. I could also talk about UQTR, a university known for its pulp and paper industry research centres, which is also contributing to research and the economic recovery of my region.

Patrice Mangin, a professor in the chemical engineering department, said:

We have 650,000 tonnes of wood waste in Mauricie alone, which could be used to make diesel. Imagine the jobs this could create—1,500 to 2,000 jobs in Mauricie alone.

With the motion moved by my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, we could achieve three objectives that go further than Bill C-574. First of all, we could improve our competitiveness in order to compete with international industries; second, we could diversify our export market to be less dependent on the U.S. housing market; and third, we could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In closing, and for once I think I have managed my time almost perfectly, I would remind the House that wood is a renewable resource that is efficient in several respects. Industrial, academic and environmental stakeholders all agree on the merits of wood, and I hope the House can reach the same consensus.

I therefore support the bill at second reading, and touch wood, I hope the government will support it too.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:20 p.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, since I have only three minutes, I will get right to the heart of the matter.

I am going to support Bill C-574 on the use of wood at second reading.

As the deputy environment critic, I moved a motion on energy efficiency at the request of my constituents in Drummond and many other people across the country. In addition to being good for the environment, energy efficiency also creates jobs and lowers energy bills.

The use of wood provides economic benefits to the regions—as my colleague from Trois-Rivières so clearly explained—as well as environmental benefits. For example, from an environmental perspective, wood compares favourably to other building materials, such as steel and concrete. Steel uses 26% to 34% more energy and emits 57% to 81% more greenhouse gases than wood.

I am pleased to rise in the House to talk about the importance of using wood in construction. This bill would allow the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood, while taking into account the factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions, before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against my motion on energy efficiency, when it would have been a good starting point with regard to the use of wood as well.

The motion that I moved on energy efficiency stated:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should implement an energy efficiency program to encourage owners of houses, residential buildings, shops and businesses to reduce their energy consumption, with a view to: (a) combatting climate change; [we will soon be attending the International Conference on Climate Change in Lima and we need to be ready] (b) lowering the energy bills of Canadians; and (c) creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

This motion would have covered all of the good points. Unfortunately, the Conservatives did not understand that because they voted against it.

This bill is similar in that it is good for the economies of the regions and job creation.

I did not have very much time, but I would like to thank the House for allowing me to speak to this bill.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Jonquière—Alma now has a five-minute right of reply.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:25 p.m.


Claude Patry Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my colleagues of every political affiliation in the House of Commons for participating in the debate, whether or not they support Bill C-574. This bill was introduced in the House in 2010 and was defeated at second reading.

The forestry sector has been devastated by massive job losses across Canada and Quebec, caused mainly by the recession, the global economy, the stronger Canadian dollar and the structural decline in the demand for paper documents. These no longer exist today because newspapers are going online.

Why did we introduce this bill? It is because in my area, many sawmills and plants have closed and many paper machines have been shut down. In Chambord, a plant has been closed for years. That is why we brought back this bill.

Today, there are many things on the market that promote innovation, new products and new technologies. I realize that the Conservative government has helped the forestry industry, but it could do more.

If the government has given many millions of dollars to this sector, why have so many plants in Canada closed? I do not see how Bill C-574 would violate Canada's obligations under national and international trade agreements such as NAFTA, the WTO Agreement and the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Canadian wood was never specifically identified in the bill, because we did not want the bill to be prejudicial to anyone. Today, we want to use it to construct buildings that are less than seven storeys high and to repair federal buildings.

For example, if the House of Commons chamber were renovated, I would like wood to be used instead of steel. That is the goal of our bill: we want to use wood.

On the weekend I went to watch a hockey tournament in a building made of steel, concrete that had beautiful wood ceilings. All three materials can be used together to build nice buildings. Back home, such buildings are built for tourism and industry. People who come to La Baie on cruise ships can see these beautiful concrete and wood buildings. The materials can be used together.

We never asked that the government be required to choose wood during the bidding process. We simply want it to choose the least expensive option from among wood, steel and concrete. If steel is the least expensive, the decision will not be a hard one.

Back home, a lot of buildings have been built using all of the materials. This has created jobs for a number of employees of plants that were shut down. This contributes to sustainable development. The government should take into account costs and greenhouse gas emissions when Public Works and Government Services Canada solicits bids.

The Conservative government said that it would oppose the bill, but I would like to quote from a 2011 interview with my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, who is also a minister. He said that he wanted to promote the use of wood in the construction of public buildings. I will quote the whole paragraph:

In the coming months, it will be important to introduce bills to encourage the use of wood in public buildings, while also ensuring that current federal and provincial codes can fully meet requirements. That way, our engineers and architects can take wood into account when doing their calculations and the professionals already in operation will have the means, tools, software and techniques to safely carry out these projects using wood.

The Conservatives are opposing the bill, but in 2011 the minister said that the government needed to encourage the use of wood.

We need to encourage the use of wood throughout Canada and Quebec. The plants that have closed could reopen, there could be renovations and the industry could get up and running again. Instead of investing millions that only translate into closures, the government should require that people use wood for their repairs. Anything is possible. The bill's wording may not be very broad, but that was our intention. The same bill was introduced in 2010. MPs rejected the bill at second reading, but in any case, I am pleased to have discussed this topic with my work colleagues.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members



Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

7:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 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

7:30 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, a question that I put to the government back in October I felt was very important and merited another go.

The question arose from a concern identified by the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. In her report, she said she had heard testimony from first nations that the federal government is ignoring its duties. First, it is failing to engage first nation and Métis peoples in environmental impact assessment and monitoring of their oil sands; second, it is ignoring its duty to collect important traditional ecological knowledge; third, it is failing to consult first nations, thereby making it harder for first nations to participate in decision-making on projects that potentially impact their rights and interests.

It is important at the outset, in reviewing this matter, to give the government the opportunity to again consider the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that it has endorsed.

Article 27 of that UNDRIP says:

States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process.

Article 29 says:

Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.

We noted the announcement of the government, particularly by the Minister of Natural Resources, of the new MPMO office to be based in Vancouver, supposedly to engage aboriginal peoples in major projects, more specifically major projects for energy development proposed by external parties, but what about the duty to consult and engage first nation and Métis peoples on their own plans and priorities for their peoples and for their lands and resources, including traditional harvest, medicines, knowledge of wildlife, and land use?

Frankly, it is unclear how an office in Vancouver will facilitate improved consultation with Alberta first nations and Métis in consideration of their traditional knowledge and customs, despite the fact that the government has claimed this office will enable better engagement of first nations in both provinces.

It may be noted that the Federal Court, some years back, held that the former federal minister of the environment, Jim Prentice, erred in law in determining he had no duty to consider the rights and title of first nations in making decisions on critical habitat for species at risk. This case particularly had to do with the right of the first nation peoples in northern Alberta to the protection of the habitat of the caribou and bison, which is part of the traditional harvest.

Sadly, it appears the court directive is not being observed or respected, and the Alberta and B.C. first nations continue to be forced into the courts to uphold their constitutional and treaty rights, or, in the case of the current National Energy Board review on Kinder Morgan, being forced to resort to protest and ultimate arrest.

I am looking forward to hearing a more extensive and detailed response from the government in how it is going to respond to this concern that was raised by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario


Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to respond to the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona regarding the government's engagement of aboriginal peoples throughout the environmental assessment process.

Since the coming into force of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, this government has focused its resources on realigning processes to most effectively fulfill its roles and responsibilities associated with responsible resource development, including its responsibilities for consulting with aboriginal peoples.

When responsible resource development was first introduced, this government indicated its commitment to streamline the environmental review process to support economic development while simultaneously strengthening environmental protection and enhancing consultations with aboriginal peoples. Under Canada's modernized environmental assessment regime, this government has an approach that integrates consultation with all aboriginal peoples into the environmental assessment process.

Meaningful consultation occurs throughout the environmental assessment by identifying groups that may be impacted by a project early in the process, listening to their concerns at key stages of the process, and accommodating those concerns where appropriate.

The information and views provided by aboriginal groups are reflected in the environmental assessment findings and can be helpful in identifying mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate the effects of the project on the environment and on aboriginal areas of interest.

Aboriginal traditional knowledge is recognized as an important part of project planning and resource management. Project proponents are encouraged to work with aboriginal groups and communities to gather traditional knowledge for consideration in the environmental assessment.

The commissioner's report indicated that some aboriginal people have concerns about their capacity to participate effectively in the environmental assessment process. With regard to this capacity, I want to make it clear that funding is available for aboriginal peoples to participate in the environmental assessment process. Between April 2013 and March 2014, approximately $1.6 million was distributed to 90 recipients to enable consultation with aboriginal peoples and participation in the environmental assessment of some 27 projects.

I want to assure hon. members that this government is working closely with aboriginal groups and is engaged in meaningful consultation with them. Our government has also increased funding and opportunities for consultations throughout the environmental assessment process.

We will continue to protect our environment while supporting economic growth.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would have to say right off the bat that I am surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health is responding to my question. However, this gives me the opportunity to speak of other failings of the government.

I have risen in the House countless times, making a plea on behalf of the first nations in northern Alberta for the Minister of Health to finally deliver the long awaited health impact study of the oil sands. To this very date, the government has refused to do any health analysis of the impacts of the oil sands.

When I look at the amount of money that the hon. member has said is committed, and if we divide that by the number of projects and the number of first nations, it is about $15,000 per project. That is laughable. If we look at the amount of money that is spent by the proponent for appraising a vast array of highly technical information, it is shameful.

I hear no response and no recognition of the serious concerns raised by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.


Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary, for every proposed project that our government reviews for environmental impacts, we assess the adequacy of our consultation to ensure that we are fulfilling the Crown's duty to consult.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is actively engaged in conducting consultations in communities across the country. It is committed to look continually for ways to improve opportunities for aboriginal participation in environmental assessments.

This government will continue to work with aboriginal communities throughout the environmental assessment process and build on lessons learned to best meet the needs of aboriginal peoples.

We will continue to protect our environment while supporting economic growth.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

November 26th, 2014 / 7:40 p.m.


Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, a glaring lack of federal oversight exists in a little known but nonetheless important aspect of our health care system. I am referring to the reprocessing and reuse of medical devices designed and intended for single-use only.

The federal government has undisputed jurisdiction for regulating the manufacture of both pharmaceutical products and medical devices. I have already asked the government why it has been remiss in regulating drug compounders, those entities that are not strictly speaking drug manufacturers or pharmacies as the oversight and regulation of the latter is the responsibility of the provinces and the former of Health Canada.

In regard to the reprocessing of singe-use medical devices, in 2004 the Auditor General urged Health Canada to consider regulating these devices in the same manner as it regulates new medical devices. However, the department concluded that the Food and Drugs Act, from which the medical devices regulations derive their authority, was not intended to apply to the use of a device after its sale.

The issue was subsequently raised by a witness at the health committee last spring during the committee's hearings on Bill C-17, Vanessa's Law.

Suddenly, this past July, Health Canada announced that it was encouraging, although apparently not requiring, reprocessors to apply for and obtain a licence for reprocessed single-use devices in Canada. The government went on to say that one reprocessor had, in fact, obtained a licence from Health Canada for one reprocessed single-use device out of 200 or so in commerce in Canada. This device was a non-invasive device, an inflatable compression sleeve, which is clearly not an example of the riskiest reprocessed single-use device.

Why will the government not act decisively and follow the Auditor General's 2004 recommendation to begin strict regulatory oversight of the market for reprocessed single-use medical devices?

What prompted the government to move away from its earlier view, that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter, to a more confused position that reflects a half-hearted commitment to ensuring the safety of patients undergoing invasive procedures with reprocessed devices?

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario


Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not begin by highlighting our government's recent passage of Vanessa's Law, which received royal assent just a few weeks ago. It will help quickly identify dangerous drugs and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs. It requires the reporting of serious adverse reactions so we are aware of new risks.

I would also like to point out, and this is critical to the hon. member's debate, that the purchase and use of single-use medical devices are part of the practice of medicine and thus fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction. I simply cannot agree that the federal government is absent from regulating this activity. In fact, I am pleased to report that Health Canada has licensed its first reprocessed medical device.

Health Canada received an application from a reprocessor to sell a reprocessed device and authorized it under the existing federal Food and Drugs Act and medical devices regulations. Our government will apply this regulatory framework to incoming licence applications from commercial reprocessors of single-use devices that wish to sell reprocessed instruments to Canadian health care facilities. In doing so, we will obviously hold reprocessed devices to the same standards of safety and effectiveness as brand new devices.

We will also, obviously, hold commercial reprocessors to the same regulatory requirements as new device manufacturers. This means that commercial reprocessors seeking market authorization in Canada must meet requirements for licensing, labelling, maintaining distribution records, investigating and handling complaints, conducting recalls, reporting problems to Health Canada and informing Health Canada of any changes to the information in their device licence application, and being subject to quality system inspections or audits.

Under the existing regulations, devices are classified into classes based on the type of risk they pose. The evidence requirements to support a given licence application are proportional to the risk of the device. On the label of the reprocessed device, Health Canada will request that the single-use symbol be removed and replaced with clear instructions, for example, on where to send the device for reprocessing to ensure the appropriate safety oversight.

The department itself began raising awareness of the reuse of medical devices in 1985. Since that time, it has taken steps to mitigate the potential risks. For example, it issued letters to the health care facilities, established a scientific advisory panel on the reprocessing of medical devices, and co-chaired a federal-provincial-territorial working group of infection control specialists that reviewed safety data and developed a pan-Canadian framework statement.

The framework provided direction to the provinces and territories, and was used to help inform the development of their respective policy or regulatory positions on single-use devices. Traditionally, medical device reprocessing was done in-house by hospitals. More recently, reprocessing models have evolved to include greater use of commercial reprocessors and service providers to hospitals. Health Canada has been closely following this business model evolution and actively engaging on this with its partners in the health care system.

Canadians can be assured that we have a rigorous regulatory framework in place to oversee the activities of commercial reprocessors seeking to sell reprocessed single-use devices to Canadian health care facilities. While Health Canada applies existing regulations to incoming licence applications from single-use device reprocessors, we continue to encourage medical device manufacturers to design devices according to their intended use. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide the necessary safety information to Health Canada for review, as required by regulation.