Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to express my support for this worthy legislation, one of many components of our oceans protection plan. Bill C-48, an act to establish an oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia's north coast, the latest in a suite of actions to protect British Columbia's Pacific coastline, would advance our transportation 2030 vision to safeguard Canada's waterways and three ocean coasts.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the health and well-being of our oceans are vital for our communities, our environment, our economy, and the well-being of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and it is critical that those vast stretches of coastline and marine environments are well protected to ensure that our oceans continue to support a rich variety of sea life. Our oceans also play an important role in Canada's economy, facilitating the movement of goods and people to other destinations and enabling the trade that our high standard of living depends upon.
We fully understand how important it is to improve marine safety and to protect the marine environment while fostering a climate that supports Canadian trade and economic objectives. That is why the creation of a world-leading marine safety system is a central plank in our government's $1.5-billion oceans protection plan. It will help ensure that future generations of Canadians continue to benefit from abundant fisheries, tourism, traditional indigenous and community livelihoods, and global trade.
To develop this plan, the Government of Canada undertook extensive consultations with Canadians all across the country on how to best improve marine safety and formalize an oil tanker moratorium. This included consultations with indigenous groups, stakeholders from the marine industry and the oil and gas sector, environmental groups, and other levels of government. Their perspectives informed the parameters of the moratorium outlined in Bill C-48.
The proposed oil tanker moratorium is just one of several crucial and complementary measures this government is taking to protect our coastlines and our oceans. The oceans protection plan will build a world-leading marine safety system that will increase responsible shipping and protect Canada's waters, including new preventive and response measures.
We are also taking steps to preserve and restore marine ecosystems and habitats using new tools and research. To support this work, we are building a stronger evidence base, supported by science and local knowledge. We are investing in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are evidence-based. We are strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities to benefit from local knowledge of the region and to build local emergency response capacity.
These efforts and actions are national in scope, so let me focus on a few specific measures designed to protect British Columbia's northern coast.
I remind my hon. colleagues that our government has instituted a concentrated campaign to inspect tugs and barges in the province. The aim of the campaign is to ensure that tugs and barges, including those engaged in community and industry re-supply, comply with all safety regulations.
Preventing accidents from occurring in the first place really is our primary goal, and this is the rationale behind the concrete steps being taken by our government to build a strong prevention regime that enhances marine safety. For example, we will be providing mariners, indigenous groups, and coastal communities in British Columbia with improved marine traffic and navigation information. This will include designing new information-sharing systems and platforms so that they have access to real-time information on marine shipping activities in local waters. We want to provide maritime situational awareness—who is doing what and where—in a user-friendly way that meets their needs.
A new program will fund initiatives to test new ways to bring local marine traffic information to indigenous and local communities from existing open-source information from ports, the Canadian Coast Guard, and other government systems. This will not only prevent accidents but also give indigenous groups and local communities a meaningful role in responsible shipping.
The oceans protection plan is also making investments so that a quick and adequate response can be mounted when incidents occur. This will mean enhanced search and rescue capabilities in British Columbia, including four new lifeboat stations, and improved communication capacity.
The Canadian Coast Guard will be increasing its towing capacity by equipping its large vessels with towing kits. It also will lease two large vessels on the B.C. coast capable of towing large commercial ships that are in distress and pose a hazard to navigation and to the marine environment. This will improve Canada's ability to effectively respond to incidents, which will ultimately save lives and protect the environment.
Beyond protecting marine ecosystems, our government is committed to restoring them. We will establish coastal zone plans and identify restoration priorities that will engage indigenous communities as well as local groups and communities.
Furthermore, we are working to understand the threat of marine transportation to marine mammals and will examine how to diminish these effects, such as understanding how to reduce the threat whales face from noise and potential collisions with commercial traffic along the B.C. coast. The government will also fund research on the impact of increased shipping on marine ecosystems, which will better position us to protect these mammals.
Strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities is a key element of the oceans protection plan. With the plan, as well as the oil tanker moratorium, B.C. indigenous communities will have peace of mind that there is the highest level of protection possible on their coast, and they will have a real opportunity to be partners in the marine safety regime. This means being offered training in search and rescue missions, environmental monitoring, and emergency spill response. It also means that our government will work with indigenous and coastal communities to create regional response plans for the west coast and to pursue shared leadership opportunities in other areas. As one example, this might mean creating local traffic management areas to minimize safety risks and environmental impacts.
Ensuring that indigenous groups play a leading role in decision-making processes is a major goal of the oceans protection plan. We have demonstrated this commitment with the new Pacific region places-of-refuge contingency plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation and other provincial and federal partners. We are proving that working together, we can more effectively manage and protect our marine environment across Canada.
By formalizing an oil tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia, the government would be delivering on the commitment to develop a world-leading marine safety system, one that would meet or surpass the marine safety practices of other nations.
By collaborating with the provinces, indigenous groups, environmental NGOs, and other interested stakeholders, I am confident that we have found an approach that demonstrates that a clean environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand. In the same way, members on this side of the House want to work with all our parliamentary colleagues to enhance marine safety and protect the environment to promote responsible and sustainable economic growth.
I hope I can count on all-party support for Bill C-48, which would help protect the northern British Columbia coastline for the benefit of generations to come.