Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton today.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate today on an extremely important piece of legislation: the energy safety and security act. The act would ensure the continued safety and security of Canada's offshore oil and gas and nuclear energy industries, helping to make a world-class regulatory regime even better while strengthening protection for Canadians and the environment.
Bill C-22 would modernize Canada's laws to ensure accountability in these industries and to protect taxpayers if a serious incident resulted in cleanup costs and compensation.
Our government has made a firm commitment, under our plan for responsible resource development, that no major resource project will proceed unless rigorous environmental protection measures are in place. Bill C-22 reflects this commitment by strengthening safety and security in Canada's energy sector by focusing on prevention, response, accountability, and transparency.
The energy safety and security act would give Canada one of the strongest liability regimes in the world, providing a solid framework to regulate Canada's offshore and nuclear industries into the future.
The legislation would also support the responsible promotion and development of our offshore and nuclear industries, which are essential to Canada's economy.
I would first like to speak about the strong regulations we have in our nuclear sector.
Canada has a proud and distinguished history in the development and application of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. Canada has been involved in almost every aspect of the nuclear industry, from uranium mining and processing to the development of our CANDU reactors for clean power generation to the production of medical isotopes. As well, in many aspects of nuclear science, including our regulatory regime, we have been world leaders.
The task of overseeing Canada's safety in the nuclear sector falls to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, or CNSC, Canada's nuclear regulator. As hon. members are aware, the CNSC is independent with respect to licensing and regulatory matters. It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources.
Our government places the highest priority on the protection of health, safety, security, and the environment in relation to nuclear activities in Canada. That is why we have ensured that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has the resources it needs to do its mandated job.
The CNSC's compliance and enforcement system includes a number of enforcement actions, such as increased regulatory scrutiny, licensing, decertification, and prosecution. As part of our government's plan for responsible resource development, the CNSC has received an additional tool to ensure safety and environmental protection in Canada's nuclear sector: the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations. These new regulations authorize the use of financial penalties for violations of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
Our Canadian nuclear industry is strong. Unlike the NDP, our government is committed to taking the necessary steps to make it even stronger. If the NDP had its way, it would shut down the nuclear industry entirely, putting 17,000 highly skilled Canadian workers out of work and bankrupting Canadian businesses. This is obviously unacceptable
The government supports a strong and safe nuclear industry, and Bill C-22 further demonstrates our commitment to nuclear safety.
A key feature of Bill C-22 is the $1-billion protection it would provide. In the case of Canada's nuclear industry, we would be strengthening the liability regime to increase the amount of compensation available for civil damages from $75 million to $1 billion
Canadians can be assured that the CNSC would continue to diligently oversee all aspects of the Canadian nuclear industry to ensure that public health, safety, and security, as well as the environment, were protected.
I would now like to briefly touch on other parts of the bill that deal with the offshore.
Bill C-22 would also apply to oil and gas companies operating in the offshore, where we would be raising the absolute liability to $1 billion from its current levels of $30 million in the Atlantic offshore and $40 million in the Arctic.
With these measures, the energy safety and security act would reinforce, in unprecedented fashion, the polluter pays principle, which would protect Canadian taxpayers.
As hon. members know, on our east coast there are two independent offshore boards: the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. The accord acts give these boards the legal authority to regulate offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities.
Members of the offshore boards have professional expertise in various disciplines, including environmental protection, law, economics, engineering, and business. They are supported by highly qualified management teams and staff with extensive experience, including in the fields of environmental protection and safety. Each board ensures that operators exercise due diligence to prevent offshore spills. As a result, drilling cannot occur unless the responsible board is completely satisfied that drilling plans comply with federal regulations and are safe for workers and the environment.
With this in mind, we have worked closely with Nova Scotia and with Newfoundland and Labrador to update and expand legislation to ensure that Canada's offshore regime continues to be world class. Offshore installations and the equipment and training required to operate them must meet strict regulatory standards that are among the highest in the world. The Offshore Health and Safety Act, which received royal assent last spring, will further strengthen Canada's safety regime by giving the offshore industry a clear occupational health and safety framework that is enforceable by law and is free of jurisdictional uncertainty.
Bill C-22 would mean that companies operating offshore would have to have the financial capacity to meet the higher liability obligations. Before any offshore drilling or production activity could take place, companies would need to prove that they could cover the financial liabilities that could result from a spill. This legislation would also establish a cost-recovery regime for the operations of the offshore boards, oblige new requirements for transparency, and create new enforcement tools, such as administrative and monetary penalties.
In conclusion, our government knows that economic prosperity and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive. We are committed to protecting the safety of Canadians and the safety of the environment. Through our plan for responsible resource development, we have taken action to ensure that Canada's vast resource wealth can be developed responsibly by putting public safety and environmental protection first. With the passage of Bill C-22, Canada would have in place one of the most modern, efficient, and stringent offshore safety regimes in the world.
Our world-class standards are supported by strong environmental laws. We have worked closely with the governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to modernize this legislation to make Canada's already world-class safety regime even better.
Bill C-22 is yet another example of our government's commitment to being a leader in safety and environmental protection while ensuring that all Canadians benefit from the jobs, opportunities, and economic growth created by Canada's natural resources. I urge the New Democrats to stop their ideological opposition to resource development and urge all hon. members to allow the passage of Bill C-22.