Madam Speaker, as this is the first time I am standing to speak, I would like to thank the constituents of Calgary Shepard for their confidence and support. I also want to thank my wife, Evangeline, and all of my supporters for allowing me to speak on behalf of them in the House.
As I pondered that privilege, I thought of an old Yiddish proverb, “Speech is difficult, but silence is impossible”, and I cannot stay silent as I watch two levels of government raise taxes, start new carbon taxes, and add layers and layers of new regulatory red tape. The first duty of good government is to do no harm, and on that side of the House, I do not see that. The uncertainty, lack of clarity, and lack of a plan is harming the economy, but, most importantly, it is leading to job losses in my constituency, my city, and my province.
According to the last survey published by the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, across nearly every employment category, the leading cause of organizational departures right now is termination without cause. For the first time in two years, since this survey started, there are more people in Alberta being terminated without cause than for any other reason, and who are moving on for better opportunity elsewhere. That tells us where the economy is going, and it has gotten worse since the provincial and federal elections. That speaks volumes to the confidence that companies, entrepreneurs, businesses, and people are placing in that side of the House.
The survey also found that 38% of Albertans are receiving severance packages that, on average, last four months. Families in Alberta do not have time for a reset of the regulatory system. They do not have time to wait for energy east and other pipeline projects to be approved. They need jobs now. They need the private sector to regain its confidence now.
The Minister of Natural Resources mentioned earlier that a minimum of nine months would be added to the environmental assessment process. If we think about people losing their jobs today and their severance running out in four months, it means they are going to be eating into their retirement savings, taking on more debt, or moving to another province or country where there are jobs waiting for them. They need work now, and that is why energy east is so important. There is an easy way to get many Canadians back to work and it is to ensure that energy east is approved.
The total value of the project and its associated natural gas components is $20 billion. Over the nine-year development, it will create over 14,000 well-paying, highly technical jobs, and will sustain over 3,000 full-time direct and indirect jobs during its operation. The income that work creates will allow families to raise their kids, send them to after-school activities, and save for retirement. That is why it is valuable; that is why it matters.
Over the past few weeks, before I came to Ottawa, I was speaking with my constituents every single day. Many constituents told me their stories. Every single one of them was unemployed, and I want to share the stories of just a few of them.
Michael, a Canadian of Polish heritage like me, a mechanical engineer, moved to Alberta and sought retraining. He retrained as a petroleum engineer. He has been out of work now for 10 months. His choices are simple: take early retirement and become inactive or move again somewhere else. His job is directly connected to the fate of this pipeline and Canada's ability to build national energy infrastructure.
Another constituent of mine, Susan, is a geoscientist and lost her job recently. Her choices are to move to Sierra Leone or Burkina Faso for employment. Those are the only two places where jobs are available to her. She is not alone. Many of her work colleagues and friends are in exactly the same position. She does not want to leave Alberta, but she is finding that she has no choice. Those are the choices people are making. Their family members have a choice, too: do they follow them or stay in Alberta and take a risk? That is the gamble they have to take. Do they gamble on the current federal government, seemingly intent on sabotaging their future, or leave for work outside of Canada, potentially never to return? We will lose the skill sets and the tax dollars, but, most importantly, we will lose a generation of highly trained professionals who took us a generation to train.
Every year we graduate another cohort of highly trained engineers, geoscientists, petroleum accountants, and on it goes, who have little prospects for employment right now in their home province. Their slice of the Alberta advantage, their chance at realizing their dreams and fulfilling their hopes, may not happen in Alberta. Until very recently, we had immense problems with shortages of the highly skilled workers required for energy development and the construction of energy infrastructure, like pipelines. Supporting energy infrastructure is not about supporting an industry or a sector. It is about supporting Canadian families who work hard to earn a living and raise their families with that income from coast to coast to coast.
The government is creating a negative investment climate because when energy prices do rebound, it will undermine the recovery of the energy sector and the employment it brings. The completion of the energy east project might be put into question just like the Mackenzie gas pipeline was before.
The government's announcement yesterday also added to the uncertainty, to the chance that a consultation might go sideways, or that a court injunction grinds everything to a halt. Why do we want pipelines built? It is because not only are they the safest way to move oil and gas, but primarily because they create jobs for the families that depend on them and the prosperity that results, as well as the quality of life they provide.
A witness at a natural resources committee in the 41st Parliament, the second session, said “We have fresh water, we have a large community centre for recreation, we have large outdoor recreation facilities, we have all kinds of ball diamonds and soccer fields for families”. Those are dollars going back to communities. Those dollars are building communities, building families and allowing them to stay in those communities, perhaps for retirement. That is why it matters.
Do we want a shovel-ready infrastructure project? I hear that so often from members on that side of the House when they talk about what this new infrastructure money will be spent on. It is energy east. It is a shovel-ready project. It is also every other high-flying project that has been proposed, designed by people who care about the quality of their work. They take pride in their craftsmanship. They take pride in the craftsmanship of their trade. They know that energy and the environment are two sides of the same coin.
A study of energy transportation safety by the Senate found that between 2000 and 2011, 99.9996% of the crude oil and petroleum that moved through pipelines did so without spilling. In cases where it did spill, where there was an accident for whatever reason, the pipeline simply stopped pumping whatever material was going through it. That is pride in craftsmanship. That is pride in one's trade. That is pride in one's profession. Debating the pipeline route is fine, but not the technology. It is a proven piece of technology used around the world. We have some of the best people in Alberta, in Canada, who know how to build them safely and responsibly.
Canada has a network of pipelines that extends over 115,000 kilometres and moves roughly 3.2 million barrels of oil and 14.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas every single day. We all depend on it. If we had to move this product by truck it would mean more than 15,000 additional long distance truck trips every single day on Canada's highways and through our communities, with extra emissions, road maintenance, public safety and, of course, the potential for road accidents.
The new regulatory timelines announced by the minister yesterday made me think of another great infrastructure project at the dawn of our Confederation, the Trans-Continental Railway, the Canadian Pacific line to the west coast. Back then it was called a national imperative. Energy east and similar pipelines in the 21st century are our national energy imperative. I am also glad that the rail line was completed over 100 years ago, because today it would be tied up in red tape tighter than a Christmas gift under the tree with its own climate audit in the stockings.
When the Minister of Natural Resources announced yesterday a new and longer regulatory process, he committed not to force projects back to square one. Good for him. What he did not say was that he added an extra 200 squares to the finish line so companies will now have to go even further to get the projects done, to get their jobs going.
Pipelines by themselves do nothing, like a highway without cars or trucks, a seaway with docks and ports but no ships. Pipelines ensure that jobs are created at the very point where the product is produced, in extraction and production. It is the most economical way. It secures the jobs. As a starting point, each well involves $13 million of direct investment, and 40 to 50 jobs. The oil and gas sector creates hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. We need these. These are the highways for the product to keep moving.
This is not about corporate greed. This is not about profit. This is about creating wealth and ensuring our share of prosperity. The residents of Calgary Shepard want to get back to work. They have lived next to pipelines for decades without any issues. They do not feel refreshed like the member for Calgary Centre said earlier in the House. They are worried and concerned and I am too. I support the project because I support the jobs it would create for Canadian families and because it requires zero tax dollars to build.
I urge members on the other side of the House to join me in voting for this motion, join the member for Chilliwack—Hope as well, and vote yes to the motion. It is important for Canada. It is our national energy imperative.