Madam Speaker, the member for Trois-Rivières is very familiar with the steps this government has taken to assist homeowners in Quebec whose foundations have been affected by pyrrhotite. We are taking actions even though the federal government bears no responsibility for this problem. This is something we have made clear on previous occasions, and in our platform.
Perhaps a more detailed explanation for the member will be helpful. Indeed, some hon. members may not be familiar with this issue, so let me begin by providing some background.
In the mid-1990s, contractors in some parts of Quebec began to use concrete containing pyrrhotite, a mineral that can cause deterioration, over time, as slabs are exposed to water. Hundreds of homes in Trois-Rivières and Maskinongé have been affected by the problem, which typically requires the costly replacement of the foundation.
The member for Trois-Rivières believes that the federal standards for the aggregates used in concrete is at the root of the problem. This is simply not the case.
First, it is important to understand that the provinces and territories regulate the design and construction of new houses and buildings. This is why, when Canadians want to build or renovate their homes, they apply to the local municipality, not the federal government, for the necessary permits.
The National Model Construction Codes are prepared under the direction of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, with the goal of promoting technical consistency of regulations and market uniformity across Canada. However, it is up to the authorities that publish building codes in each province and territory to decide whether to adopt the codes.
More to the point is that the use of expansive aggregates such as pyrrhotite in concrete has been prohibited under the National Building Code for more than 20 years. The fact is that federal construction standards banned the use of pyrrhotite in concrete before these problems began to emerge in Quebec. The member for Trois-Rivières is asking the federal government to do something that has already been done.
It is also worth noting that in June 2014, the Quebec Superior Court concluded that professional technical consultants, suppliers, and contractors involved in the supply of faulty concrete were responsible for this economic and human tragedy.
However, our government is more concerned with doing the right thing than assigning blame. That is why in budget 2016, we included a commitment to provide up to $30 million, over three years, to help homeowners who are dealing with the consequences of pyrrhotite.
That commitment is now being fulfilled through an agreement signed by the governments of Canada and Quebec on July 11.
Under this agreement, the Société d'habitation du Québec has been given the green light to begin delivering the federal funds through the existing Quebec program to compensate homeowners who have been impacted by pyrrhotite. This is the quickest and fairest way to deliver assistance to affected homeowners.
I would encourage the member for Trois-Rivières to recognize the government's efforts in this regard.