Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and commend her for her excellent speech. I am pleased to rise this morning to speak to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).
As my NDP colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, said in the House of Commons, this bill asks the government to assess the material options for large buildings, balancing the overall dollar cost of the project and the impact of its greenhouse gas footprint.
During the October 19 debate, he stated:
This bill is not meant to exclude non-wood materials but simply to ask the government to look at these new wood technologies that can be used to create beautiful, safe, and environmentally sound buildings.
The forestry sector plays a key role in the economy of my riding of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia and the Canadian economy in general. I know that I speak on behalf of the government when I say that we strongly support the Canadian forestry industry.
According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the forestry industry provides over 230,000 quality jobs for middle-class Canadians across the country. Last year, it contributed over $23 billion to Canada's nominal GDP.
The forestry industry is a high-value, high-tech industry that plays a key role in addressing some of the biggest challenges of our time, such as combatting climate change, driving innovation, and creating economic opportunities for indigenous and rural communities.
Those are not just empty words. We have taken practical measures to support the forestry industry. I would like to take a few moments to remind the House of those measures.
Our government allocated over $150 million over four years to support clean technologies in our natural resource sectors, including the forestry industry.
As part of our softwood lumber action plan, we are investing $867 million to help workers and communities diversify their markets to make it easier for them to access a range of financial services on commercial terms.
This is what we are talking about: loan guarantees through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada; access to the work-sharing program to help employers and employees supplement their incomes; funding to the provinces to provide financial support to workers who are looking for work during the transition; new funding for the indigenous forestry initiative to support indigenous participation in economic development activities; extending the investments in forestry industry transformation program and the forest innovation program.
Thanks to initiatives such as the program for export market development, we are actively seeking other foreign markets to export to, in order to strengthen the forestry industry's competitiveness and sustainability.
One of our government's top priorities is the fight against climate change, and the forestry sector will have an important role to play in that regard.
The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, adopted in 2016, is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions, promote clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The framework's actions, supported by announcements in budget 2017, will help Canada to meet or even exceed its target to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to promote greater use of wood in construction, for example, by updating building codes.
Budget 2017 also proposes to provide Natural Resources Canada with $39.8 million over four years to support projects and activities that promote greater use of wood as a greener alternative for infrastructure projects, as well as opening up new markets for more sustainable Canadian products.
In the framework, our government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and its vehicle fleet to 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. As the government's common service provider, Public Services and Procurement Canada plays a leading role in achieving those objectives.
To further support those objectives, our government uses the latest tools to assess environmental impact. Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to using industry-recognized assessment tools for high environmental performance to measure the impact of construction projects. These tools help the department make informed decisions when evaluating the use of various materials in any given construction project and their environmental impacts. These measures show that we are steadfast in our support of the Canadian forestry industry and its long-term health and transformation.
I feel that the bill we are debating today deserves to be studied in committee. All potential measures our government could take to support the forestry industry deserve a closer look. I encourage the committee to ensure that this bill complies with the free trade agreements we have signed and with the government's procurement principles.
As everyone knows, Canada is signatory to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement. Each one of these agreements imposes certain obligations on Canada with regard to public procurement. It is therefore important to examine the repercussions this bill could have for these agreements.
Furthermore, the government must adhere to the principles of fairness, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity in procurement. These principles are intended to ensure Canadians' confidence in their procurement system and in the way we do business on their behalf.
That being said, these issues are not insurmountable. Some creativity may be required, but it is absolutely worth the effort. We parliamentarians have a duty to ensure this bill receives proper consideration. I hope my colleagues from all parties will come together to continue seeking ways for our government to support the forestry sector.