Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay, who introduced this important bill. If it is adopted, it will help the forestry industry and will have a positive impact on the environment.
This bill will encourage sustainable development by promoting the use of wood in public infrastructure projects. Not only is it a commitment to the forestry sector and all its workers, but also a concrete step to protecting the environment. The bill calls on the government to give preference to construction with wood when building infrastructure, balancing those decisions on the relative costs of various building materials and the savings in greenhouse gas emissions that those materials might produce.
Designers of modern buildings too often do not think of wood when creating new infrastructure, and there are many reasons to consider wood. First of all, it would provide a boost to the Canadian forest industry that is looking to increase domestic markets for their products. It would also lower the carbon footprint of large buildings. Buildings made of mass wood products can be built more quickly than conventional buildings, and they are just as safe. Canada is a world leader in the design and construction of wood buildings. I hope that the bill will promote the construction of many beautiful, clean, and safe buildings made from Canadian wood.
The forestry industry is an economic driver in my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, because this sector represents more than 11,000 jobs. The use of wood in federal buildings would help our businesses develop new secondary- and tertiary-processing products and find new markets for local products. The forestry industry in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean has developed so much and so well, that it has formed an industrial cluster and works together with tree farmers, sawmills, pulp and paper plants, as well as secondary- and tertiary-processing companies.
I want to talk about a plant that I visited last summer, Resolute-LP in Larouche, in my riding of Jonquière. During the high season, this plant employs more than 107 workers specialized in tertiary processing who build joists. This plant focuses on home building, but if the government passes my colleague's bill, it could help develop new markets and new plants in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. The forest resource is nearby, and we already have sawmills. This bill would help create jobs and keep families in the region.
The exodus of young people and families is a problem we deal with every day in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. Developing secondary and tertiary products could not only help create and maintain jobs, but also help keep our families in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.
I would like to point out three other important things about my region. Saguenay produces 20% of Quebec's lumber. It consists of 81% softwood and 19% hardwood. Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is the largest timber reserve in Quebec. The forestry industry is composed of 500 active companies, including nine major primary-processing companies. We know that constructing buildings out of wood has several advantages. Using dry materials helps reduce the amount of waste produced in manufacturing and in getting projects built. With careful coordination of various trades, building sites are more accessible and cleaner than masonry construction sites.
Water is not used on that kind of construction site. There is nothing to dilute, nothing to clean up. It is a win for the environment in so many ways. Wood is an excellent insulator. It insulates six times better than brick, 12 times better than concrete, and 350 times better than steel.
In addition to the material's intrinsic qualities, wooden building systems insulate especially well. Solid wood panels in particular work well for exterior insulation. Wood houses with the same R-value as other types of construction are more energy efficient and take longer to cool down and heat up, which keeps the occupants comfortable in summer and winter alike. Even once harvested, wood continues to store that atmospheric menace, carbon dioxide. Building with wood is one way to actively fight global warming. It is a renewable material. Producing and using wood uses less energy than other materials. When it comes to production, structural wood consumes six to nine times less energy than bricks and 20 times less than concrete. Wood construction site waste is recyclable. It can be converted to serve other purposes or used as biomass to produce energy.
Wood construction is synonymous with comfort and well-being, because wood is an excellent thermal insulator, which makes for walls that are warm in winter and cool in summer and that can breathe and regulate ambient humidity. Because of its low thermal inertia, houses made of wood warm up quickly, even after standing empty for long periods of time. Wood is such a good insulator that a building made of wood costs about 30% less to heat than an equivalent structure made from concrete, which is 15 times less insulating. Wood is ideal for architectural experimentation. It is easier to customize a habitat with wood than with other materials, by creating volumes and spaces that match each client's vision.
Wood has long had an unfair reputation as a highly combustible material. However, it is now recognized that wood is in fact stable under fire conditions. It is not deformed by heat, so it retains its mechanical characteristics. It does not burn, but chars slowly, giving firefighters more time to respond than any other type of building. It also releases little toxic gas when burning. Fire risks typically involve electrical wiring, heating equipment, kitchens, and curtains and furniture. Wood construction is fully consistent with current fire codes.
In closing, a forest is like a big garden, and we have everything to gain from bills that will help us cultivate our forests and develop new architectures, which is what the bill introduced by my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay does by promoting the use of wood in the construction of government infrastructure. I would also like to give a shout-out to the Association forestière Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean, which has done so much to make people aware of forestry and works to find innovative ways to use wood and build with wood. This association is also educating people about how our forests help our environment and how everyone benefits when wood is used in construction.
The government has been emphasizing the importance of supporting the forestry industry. I therefore urge it to put words into action by passing the bill introduced by my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay.