House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was islamophobia.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, I speak French and I did not understand a word. Unlike members on the other side, I need to understand what I'm voting on.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discrimination
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Carol Hughes

I speak French and I understood the hon. member. I encourage the hon. member to use his earpiece.

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

Madam Speaker, I hope the debate we have here this evening, or late this afternoon, will allow us to have objective discussions that are perhaps a little less animated than what we saw in the dying minutes of the past hour.

Again, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to move Motion No.102 on a subject that is very important to me. The purpose of the motion is to ensure that we adopt Canadian regulations on formaldehyde emissions.

Formaldehyde is a toxic substance that originates, for example, in composite wood products that are used indoors and causes serious health problems.

I am the father of four young boys. Obviously my children's health, and the health of my family, is important to me. I must admit that, sometimes, I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to protecting my children's health. For example, I ask them to make sure they carefully wash the fruits and vegetables they eat. I sometimes even do it myself to help them. I also ask them to wash their hands really thoroughly. I turn off the WiFi every night before they go to bed.

Obviously, for their protection, I make sure they live in a safe environment. We own a home and, over the years, I have done renovations by installing floating flooring, a new kitchen, and new cabinets. Then, on a visit to a composite wood panel manufacturing facility during the election campaign, I learned that some foreign manufacturers use formaldehyde-based resins.

I was shocked because I thought that formaldehyde had been banned from all wood composite products. I thought that Canada had regulations to limit, reduce, or eliminate formaldehyde emissions. I was therefore extremely shocked to learn that Canada does not have any regulations or concrete measures in place to eliminate formaldehyde emissions.

When I did some digging to find out more about what kind of protection was in place and how to avoid formaldehyde emissions, I came across an article about Hurricane Katrina. I learned that the 2005 hurricane had some major consequences. People in Louisiana were evacuated, then relocated and housed in mobile homes. In the weeks following relocation, as they were settling into those mobile homes, people started getting sick. They were having respiratory problems.

Finally, after all kinds of tests, it came to light that those mobile homes were made with wood composites that contained formaldehyde. All kinds of legal action ensued in pursuit of compensation from the manufacturers that produced those products and built those mobile homes. In 2012, the disputes were settled.

In 2015, the American program60 Minutes investigated the matter and found that foreign manufacturers of composite wood panels were selling lots of formaldehyde-containing composite products to the U.S., such as floating floors. Therefore, 60 Minutes investigated further and found that no measures were in place to regulate formaldehyde emissions and that Americans were getting sick from exposure to formaldehyde emissions.

Obviously, the reaction of Americans was very negative. After the show aired, the U.S. government introduced very strict regulations in order to eliminate formaldehyde from composite wood products.

We are in the House today to ensure that Canada, which does not have such regulations or concrete measures to limit formaldehyde emissions, can adopt similar regulations. That is why I moved Motion No. 102. We will debate the elements of this motion.

As I was saying earlier, the objective of Motion No. 102 is to introduce Canadian regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada. These regulations should be similar to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emission standards in the Toxic Substances Control Act, Title VI, through a certification process to establish levels of formaldehyde in composite wood products.

It is important to note that U.S. regulations introduced last year will go into force in December 2017. That is an important factor to be considered in our debate. I will repeat that the U.S. regulations will go into effect in December 2017, which is in the months to come.

Once again, formaldehyde is a colourless gas that infiltrates the air in two different ways. It can enter the air through gas emissions from construction materials or household products, or from the combustion of these products. The effects of formaldehyde on health are known, have been studied for many years, and are well documented by Health Canada.

High concentrations of formaldehyde can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; cause breathing problems; and worsen asthma symptoms in children and infants. They can even cause cancer. That is why this gas was declared toxic in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Formaldehyde is found in many construction materials made using composite panels. Composite panels are made using recycled wood residue, and these consumer products are becoming increasingly common in the everyday lives of Canadians.

These panels have many uses, including in the manufacture of furniture, desks, bookcases, kitchen cabinets, flooring, and toys. Formaldehyde comes primarily from the resin that is used as an adhesive in the manufacture of these composite wood panels and hardwood plywood.

As my colleagues may already be aware, Health Canada has developed general guidelines regarding indoor air quality in homes. Those guidelines set out maximum levels for two kinds of formaldehyde exposure: short-term and long-term exposure.

These guidelines also provide information regarding the known health effects of indoor air contaminants, sources of indoor air contaminants, the recommended exposure limits, and recommendations to reduce exposure to pollutants.

Although there is a formaldehyde emission standard for composite wood panels and hardwood plywood, CAN/CSA-0160, it is a voluntary standard. That is very important to remember. It is a voluntary standard. Manufacturers are under no obligation to abide by it like they would be if it were a regulation arising from legislation.

It is vital that we protect Canadians from the harmful effects of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood panels and hardwood plywood. As a result, the motion we are debating today is crucial and resolves problems that are not addressed in Canadian regulations. If this regulation is not adopted, the situation that I explained earlier could get worse when the American regulations take effect in December 2017.

The motion seeks to protect the health of Canadians who buy or use these products and ensure that Canadian consumers have access to high quality building materials.

The Canadian regulations must be consistent with the American ones. Here is why. On December 12, 2016, the United States published the final version of its national regulations on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products in order to protect the American citizens that purchase them. Once again, the health effects of this toxic gas are known and have been studied.

Any American or foreign manufacturer of composite wood wishing to sell or supply products to American consumers will have until December 12, 2017, to comply with the certification program and the new U.S. environmental requirements. Through these regulations, the United States has clearly indicated to manufacturers of composite panels that the health of Americans comes first.

Since the majority of Canadian manufacturers of composite panels have already made investments to ensure that their facilities meet the new U.S. standards, they will be able to continue exporting their products to the United States. Their operations will not be affected.

However, some foreign manufacturers of composite panels, who have not made the necessary investments in their operations to meet the new U.S. standards, will try to liquidate their products in countries that do not have such strict standards, such as Canada.

If that happens, the use of those composite panels, which have very high formaldehyde emissions, could obviously have serious effects on the health of Canadians who buy or use these products.

Canada needs to have a certification process that is similar to that of the United States in order to protect Canadian consumers by guaranteeing that the products they buy meet the highest standards of protection from formaldehyde emissions.

As I said, I am the father of four young boys, and their health is very important to me. Had I known that the products I bought in recent years contained formaldehyde, I would obviously have decided to buy something else.

As I said earlier, when I found out that Canada has no real measures to protect Canadians from the harmful effects of formaldehyde in the air, I decided to do something. That is why I came up with this motion and put it before the House. It is my duty as a father to safeguard the health of my children and my family.

If Canada does not adopt measures to protect Canadians from the health effects of formaldehyde, companies that manufacture composite panels that do not comply with U.S. standards could target the Canadian market to dump their products.

We must fix this problem and adopt regulations that are similar to American regulations, which are particularly strict. Once in place, those Canadian regulations will protect the health of Canadians.

By basing our standards on the American standards, Canadian regulations will limit the emission of formaldehyde, ensure that imported products meet the new Canadians standards, ensure correct labelling, ensure that all products are tested, and lastly, implement a certification process that will be done by accredited entities.

The composite panel manufacturing sector consists of 13 plants in Canada that are located in six different provinces. Seventy percent of its output is exported to the United States. This is an important economic sector that generates revenues of $3.4 billion.

Like many others who share my objective, I am very proud to have a plant in my riding that has adopted the highest standards when it comes to protecting the people of our region and all Canadians.

To summarize, I want to commend Canadian composite panel manufacturers on their leadership; they have made the investments needed to conform to the highest standards and limit Canadians' exposure to formaldehyde emissions.

Once again, I am pleased to present and table this motion in the House to help keep Canadians safe.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for moving this very important and useful motion that could improve the health of Canadians.

Protecting Canadians' health and environment is indeed a federal responsibility. Health Canada, or my colleague's Liberal government, tabled updated guidelines to that effect on June 16, 2015, guidelines that were rather strict. For example, the guidelines on long-term exposure talk about 40 parts per billion, while in the U.S. it is 110 parts. These guidelines are better in Canada. However, as the hon. member said, these measures are not mandatory.

I congratulate my colleague for going beyond these guidelines. However, will the government agree to go ahead and make these measures mandatory?

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for raising this question. Obviously, that is my goal. As I said, I hope that we can adopt Canadian regulations that will limit formaldehyde emissions in order to protect the health of Canadians.

We currently have one hour to debate this motion, which will eventually be put to a vote. What I would like is to get the support of all my colleagues in the House and also of the opposition side, of the Conservatives and the NDP. That is my objective and I really hope that we can all come to an agreement.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out the excellent work that my colleague opposite has done in preparing this motion. I know that he had to meet with people from the industry on several occasions. We are not used to dealing with files concerning standards, U.S. regulations, and Canadian regulations.

We are, however, familiar with the product in question. The composite wood panel manufacturing facilities in our regions and ridings are very important to us.

I wanted to ask my colleague a polite question. In the motion that he moved, he spoke about adopting standards that are similar to the American standards. Would he be amenable to talking about harmonizing the standards rather than making them similar? It is his speech. He can give us his answer shortly.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his kind words. During the 16 years that I worked for the federal government, I had the opportunity to work in the regulatory field in various departments, such as the Department of Health and the Department of Justice. I worked on developing regulations.

Obviously, when I began looking into this issue, I made sure to find out everything I possibly could about formaldehyde emissions. I wanted to draft a motion that would hold together, one that made sense, so that it would get the support of as many members of the House as possible.

The goal is clear. It is to protect the health of Canadians and recognize the work that the industry has done to meet the highest standards. I thank my colleague. Obviously there is the matter of terminology, but I think that we agree on the meaning of the motion. I am therefore going to leave it at that.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 102.

I want to commend our hon. colleague for the incredible work in putting together this motion. I have to admit that this is an issue that came up in my riding. We have organizations that have already started taking steps to adopt these regulations or at least the processes in place, and Motion No. 102 is a great start in recognizing this problem.

Motion No. 102 reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

A concern we have, and industry has brought it up as well, is with the word “similar”. We recognize that this is a common-sense motion. We would like to see an amendment, as we would like to have language such as “align with” or “in alignment with”.

I received word from one of our major manufacturers of composite wood and plywood in my riding, one of the leading forestry product producers in Canada. It suggested that these regulations should be patterned on the U.S. formaldehyde emissions requirements, and more specifically patterned on California's very strict rules. I believe my hon. colleague has moved on this.

Our previous Conservative government has always taken a stance on controlling toxic substances that pose risks to human health. For example, it was a priority to pass the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, which banned the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles.

On December 12, 2016, the American Environmental Protection Agency published new regulations to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products domestically produced or imported into the United States. The EPA adopted California Air Resources Board regulations for composite wood products to ensure a consistent regulatory framework across the U.S.

Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in a wide range of wood products, such as furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases, and building materials, including plywood and wood panels, as our hon. colleague mentioned. Composite wood products are made with pre-consumer, recycled wood residuals, which utilize 95% of the whole tree and also a significant majority of wood fibre, which is locally sourced. This is important, especially in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George where we are dependent on forestry.

Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation; other respiratory symptoms; and even cancer. Formaldehyde in Canada is classified as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protections Act of 1999, CEPA, and it is regulated. However, if the Government of Canada decides to adopt EPA regulations, the use of formaldehyde in wood products would be subject to stricter regulation on finished wood products, like plywood, cabinet doors, and countertops.

It is important to note that Canadian exporters of composite wood products already adhere to the American and Californian standards voluntarily through the CSA Group to export into the American market. If Canada did not adopt this regulatory change or if we refused to adopt Motion No. 102, composite wood products entering Canada would be subject to less stringent formaldehyde regulations than Canadian exports to the United States.

This is also about jobs. It is not just a health issue, but a competitive advantage. It is about jobs here in Canada as well as products that could be flooding into our market from foreign countries, such as composite wood products from China.

I will reiterate for the record that this is a common-sense motion.

When we see so many topics come through the House, where the House can oftentimes be divided, this is one that hopefully will be supported by all members on all sides because it is a very common-sense motion. I want to bring it back to Canadian jobs. We need to always be mindful that it protects jobs within Canada. It also promotes jobs and job growth.

The composite panel industry supports Canadian jobs. Nearly 12,000 people across Canada are employed in this industry, many of them in rural communities like those in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. In fact, the West Fraser production plant in Quesnel is a significant job creator and is a member of the composite panel industry and indeed one of the largest producers of this in Canada.

If Motion No. 102 does not pass, these jobs and jobs in my riding could be negatively impacted.

As members know, I am one of the fiercest proponents of getting a new softwood lumber agreement done as quickly as possible. With increasing protectionist rhetoric coming from our friends across the border, we need to do everything in our power to ensure our Canadian producers enjoy the same advantages as those who are in competition with them. If Motion No. 102 does not pass, those jobs and jobs in my riding will be negatively impacted.

Aligning Canada's regulatory framework with the United States on wood products containing formaldehyde will prevent the dumping of non-compliant EPA products into the Canadian marketplace. This will ensure Canada's wood product manufacturers maintain a competitive advantage, both domestically as well as internationally. In an ever-changing uncertain global economic environment, we need to seize every opportunity to ensure our forestry products and forestry producers remain competitive.

Here is a statistic for the House. Over 140 communities in my province of British Columbia are forestry dependent. Roughly 65,000 jobs depend on the forestry industry for their livelihoods and to put food on the table for their families. We currently do not have a softwood lumber agreement in place. This has been mentioned time and again, and I will continue to defend our forestry workers.

It is expected that tariffs will soon be levied on our Canadian producers that ship between Canada and the U.S. Prior to the Harper government coming to power, disputes on the softwood lumber had been simmering for more than 20 years. It reached a peak in May 2002 when the United States imposed duties of 27% on Canadian softwood. It was argued that Canada unfairly subsidized producers of spruce, pine, and fir lumber.

The trade war took a toll on Canadian jobs. While we like to tout our record in litigation, thousands upon thousands of people in the industry lost their jobs, including nearly 15,000 forestry workers in my home province of British Columbia.

A quote that was thrown around this chamber quite frequently was “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Instead of negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement right out of the gate, we have seen inaction on this file and the Liberal government has chosen to put it on the back burner and instead put false promises as well as false deadlines forward.

That is where we stand today, with no deal and our high-quality, well-paying forestry jobs at risk. One certainty we do have is knowing from the experiences of the last four trade wars that this one will not end well. Regardless of where we move with our softwood lumber agreement, there will be losers.

Canadians need results from the government that include protection of almost 400,000 jobs from a new softwood lumber agreement. From conversations I have had with them, Canadians are rightly worried because it is clear there is no plan to protect the high-paying jobs that are created in Canada as a result of NAFTA, including 550,000 auto sector jobs, 211,000 aerospace jobs, and our oil and gas, mining, and forestry jobs.

We need the Liberal government to start recognizing the importance of our rural economies as the backbone of the national economy. The Conservative Party stands for our hard-working families employed in the resources sector. Oftentimes these individuals are working 12 to 14-hour days doing back-breaking, labour intensive jobs in all kinds of unpredictable weather. They work hard to put food on their tables, and we stand with them.

Making a small, common sense change to tweak legislation that is already voluntarily acted upon is a good move, and that is why we will support Motion No. 102.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Motion No. 102 moved by my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. I will read his motion because it is worthwhile to do so:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

As my colleagues mentioned a few moments ago, the problem with the existing guidelines is that they are not mandatory and we should therefore strengthen the protection of Canadians. I will first explain in lay terms what formaldehyde is. We do not use this word every day, but it could be useful in a game of Scrabble.

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that is emitted primarily by household products, as well as wood products, and can be found in composite panels, for example. Certain products give off this gas, which can be toxic. It can cause a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat as well as respiratory problems. Very high concentrations can even cause certain kinds of cancer. It is a toxic substance that cannot be ignored.

The problem we have had for many years now, both with the Conservative government and more recently with the Liberal government, is that they have a tendency to introduce guidelines with voluntary compliance. They bring in guidelines and advise companies to meet certain standards, but these are not mandatory.

I congratulate my colleague on his motion, because it specifies that we should have mandatory standards. We already have regulations that Canadian business owners follow. The problem is that we do not have mandatory regulations.

While a standard does exist regarding formaldehyde emissions from composite panels and hardwood plywood, it is applied on a voluntary basis only. As a result, it is not necessarily applied at all, because it is not mandatory.

Things are different in other countries, such as the United States, where careful consideration recently resulted in stricter rules. In 2007, California passed regulations to reduce the public's exposure to formaldehyde.

The regulations phased in emissions standards for laminated composite materials and flooring. The first standard, stipulating 210 parts per billion, came into force in January 2009. The second, which came into force in January 2011, allowed a maximum formaldehyde concentration of 110 parts per billion.

The United States has ramped up work on this issue. Our American neighbours recently had other concerns about products manufactured outside the U.S. that began flooding the market because they were cheap. They contained much more formaldehyde than the standards allowed.

Now all companies that want to sell or manufacture these products for American consumers have until December 12, 2017, to comply with the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products. U.S. regulations have clearly improved over time.

One might well ask whether the Canadian industry that builds these wood panels would suffer if our regulations were similar to those of the United States.

The answer is no. To continue exporting to the United States, Canadian manufacturers have already made substantial investments in their facilities in order to comply with and even exceed U.S. environmental standards. Canadian companies are already prepared to meet mandatory standards even though the standards are currently voluntary.

Canadian manufacturers are prepared. As other hon. members mentioned, we would be penalized if we did not have firm and mandatory regulations because manufacturers from other countries might export and sell their wood products here, products that would contain a greater quantity of formaldehyde than what is recommended and acceptable for health.

Canada's recommendations are much stricter than those of the United States, as I said earlier in one of my questions. For example, for long-term exposure, Health Canada recommends a maximum of 40 parts per billion, while in the United States it is 110 parts per billion. This recommendation seeks to ensure the well-being and health of Canadians.

The motion proposes that we take an approach similar to that of the United States. However, I completely agree with my colleague that we should do more than what the U.S. recommends, because Health Canada recommends 40 parts per billion, while in the U.S. it is 110 parts per billion. We could do more and have guidelines.

The fact that my colleague is introducing this bill is good news, but it is also surprising because on June 16, 2015, Health Canada issued an update to the residential air quality guideline for formaldehyde.

In fact, about a year and a half ago the Liberal government provided updates and adopted stringent guidelines that follow Health Canada's recommendations for the well-being, health, and safety of Canadians. However, they are voluntary, which unfortunately was often the case under previous Conservative governments and now under the current Liberal government.

I congratulate my colleague for this measure that goes above and beyond what the government did in 2015, which was somewhat disappointing. This approach is a step in the right direction.

I hope that the next set of regulations and changes made by the Liberal government will be mandatory and not consist of guidelines that companies may or may not follow according to the whims or goodwill of their managers or boards of directors.

Once again, I think this is a very good motion, and I will be very pleased to vote for it.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier in the debate I made a comment toward the member for Calgary Forest Lawn, which I feel was inappropriate. I would like to retract that and apologize.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Sheehan Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, tonight I am pleased to rise in the House to elaborate on the importance of Motion No. 102. Motion No. 102 deals with formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada.

I was pleased earlier to hear from across the aisle that both parties are supporting this motion. It is of utmost importance, and I would like to take a moment to applaud my colleague for his great work on this.

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that is emitted mainly from household products and building materials. Formaldehyde is an irritant, and exposure to high concentrations of formaldehyde has been known to cause burning sensations in the eyes, the nose, the throat. It causes respiratory problems and also can lead to cancer.

Composite wood products have been known to contribute to formaldehyde levels through off-gassing. Composite panels are created by binding wood particles together using adhesives that may contain formaldehyde. These panels are often used to manufacture commonly used indoor products, such as furniture, desks, shelving, cabinets, flooring, and even toys.

Health Canada has established residential indoor air quality guidelines that summarize the health risks of specific indoor pollutants. They also provide information on known health effects of indoor air contaminants, recommended exposure limits, and recommendations to reduce exposure to pollutants.

Although there is a formaldehyde emissions standard for composite and hardwood plywood panels here in Canada, it is voluntary. Since there is no enforcement or compulsory standard here, as in the case for statutory regulation and/or regulations, Canadians are not immune to the harmful effects of formaldehyde emissions from sources such as composite and hardwood plywood panels.

As noted earlier, on December 12, 2016, the U.S. government announced a final rule on formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products to protect against the harmful effects of this colourless gas. Since these regulations came into force, all U.S. and foreign manufacturers of composite wood products wishing to sell or make these products available to American consumers have until December 12, 2017 to comply with the certification program and new U.S. environmental standards.

To continue exporting to the U.S., Canadian manufacturers have made significant investments in their facilities to meet, and many times exceed, U.S. environmental standards, which are very tough, particularly with regard to formaldehyde emissions. Most Canadian composite panel manufacturers have already invested in their operations to meet these U.S. standards and will continue to be able to export to the U.S. after the December 12, 2017 date.

Some foreign composite panel manufacturers that have not made the necessary investments in their operations to meet the new American environmental standards will be looking to liquidate their products in countries with less stringent environmental standards, such as Canada. In that case, the use of composite panels in these countries with very high formaldehyde emissions could have significant effects on the health of Canadians who buy these manufactured products.

Furthermore, such a scenario would put Canadian manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage compared to foreign manufacturers, and could have significant economic impacts for Canadian manufacturers.

In Canada, 13 factories in six provinces produce composite panels. In total, Canadian composite panel factories employ 11,500 workers, pay close to $724 million in wages, and have about a $3.41-billion impact on the Canadian economy. A little over 70% of Canada's production of raw panels and products made with raw panels are exported to the U.S. right now.

In my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, we are home to a successful Canadian factory that produces composite panels. ARAUCO North America manufactures a wide range of sustainable forest product solutions across this country, including Sault Ste. Marie. It produces the most comprehensive selection of composite panels, premium plywood, millwork, lumber and FSC-certified wood pulp.

Overall, ARAUCO North America employs more than 13,500 at 30 international production facilities, with sales staff in more than 80 countries. Products, sold on five continents to 3,500 customers via 220 ports worldwide, include engineered panels, such as MDF made at ARAUCO Sault Ste. Marie, as well as lumber and pulp.

ARAUCO North America purchased its Sault Ste. Marie factory from Flakeboard in September 2012, as a wholly owned subsidiary. Over 20 years ago, in 1996, the first panel rolled off the world's then largest continuous MDF press at GP Flakeboard in Sault Ste. Marie. At that time, it employed 87 people. Today, ARAUCO Sault Ste. Marie employs over 120 people, and the success of this operation is due to the ownership being heavily invested in producing quality products and having a highly skilled local workforce that takes great pride in the work.

The health of Canadians and product sustainability is paramount at ARAUCO, and many other of these Canadian companies. For example, it offers environmentally preferable product choices to support its customers' sustainable building and fabricating initiatives. With over 20 years in Sault Ste. Marie, ARAUCO has become one of the most efficient and productive manufacturers in North America. ARAUCO has shown leadership in continuing to become more efficient and environmentally friendly, and doing so with an exemplary record in health and safety issues. ARAUCO employs responsible best practices in the manufacture of every product, relying on wood grown in the company's own certified, sustainably managed plantation forests, imported products, and post-industrial reclaimed fibre such as raw materials in the domestic.

All of ARAUCO's products are certified as compliant with FSC chain of custody standards, verifying that they can trace the wood fibre used in production back to responsible sources. ARAUCO North American composite panel mills are certified to the Composite Panel Association's Eco-Certified Composite (ECC) Sustainability Standard, indicating the mills implementation of a number of performance criteria, including the CPA carbon calculator tool, to assess product life cycles and carbon footprints. All ARAUCO composite panels sold in North America are manufactured in compliance with the California Air Resources Board's CARB 2 standard for formaldehyde emissions. This is just an example of how Canadian companies are compliant now and also exceed the American standard.

Between 2005 and 2015, Health Canada measured formaldehyde in over 500 homes across Canada. Approximately 8% of homes exceeded the long-term exposure limit, indicating a risk of adverse effects. In 2001, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, CEPA, formaldehyde was concluded to be toxic to human health and the environment. Formaldehyde emissions from vehicle engines have been regulated under CEPA since 2003. As of now, no action has been taken to date under CEPA to address exposure to formaldehyde through indoor air.

Taking action on Motion No. 102 would help to protect the health of Canadians from the effect of formaldehyde in indoor air, and support regulatory alignment with the United States.

I would like to reiterate my unwavering support for Motion No. 102, as it first and foremost protects the health of Canadians. I encourage the majority of Canadian composite panel manufacturers to continue to invest in their operations to meet high environmental standards, like those in the U.S. We cannot allow foreign composite panel manufacturers, which have not made the necessary investments in their operations to meet the new American environmental standard, the ability to liquidate their products in Canada. in other words, dump their product here. It would create a health risk to Canadians, as noted in the 60 Minutes special that aired not long ago.

I think of another story of when I was in New Orleans, driving through the aftermath of Katrina, while my wife was at a conference. I remember seeing the government trailers that had the formaldehyde in them. It was such a terrible thing. These poor people were left homeless, were put into these government trailers, and many of these trailers had the formaldehyde in them. It was not until 2012 when they resolved that. We do not want any of that in Canada.

Furthermore, the motion would help protect Canadian jobs, because the dumped product will cost Canadian jobs. Therefore, I ask members to please support the motion. I applaud my colleague.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this evening to speak to Motion No. 102, which was moved by my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. I want to vigorously express my strong support and enthusiasm for this motion.

I believe it is important to remind everyone of the purpose of the motion, since my speech will be abundantly shared on social media to make sure that my constituents can see it, because this is a very important file. The motion reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

The motion seems worthwhile as it now stands. However, I think we need to go a little further. We have an interesting situation here in the House because it seems that everyone will support the motion. Why is it important to adopt this motion? It is good for the country's economy. It is important that the motion be adopted by the House and that the federal government then take real action to implement it. The federal government must support this motion. We must ensure that the excellent recommendations that I just read are quickly adopted by the federal government, specifically before December 2017.

I would like to provide a little bit of background on the motion, even though this is a fairly recent issue. On December 12, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released a new regulation to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from wood-based products made in or imported into the United States. The EPA adopted the regulation of the California Air Resources Board on composite wood products in order to harmonize the American regulatory framework.

What people want to know is, what is the formaldehyde this motion talks about? Formaldehyde is an odourless gas used primarily as an adhesive in a wide range of wood-based products, such as furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases, and building materials, such as plywood and wood panels. Exposure to formaldehyde emissions can cause adverse health effects, such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, respiratory symptoms, and even cancer.

Formaldehyde in Canada is classified as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and it is regulated.

This motion would create new regulations as requested by the industry, regulations that are absolutely necessary for our economy. If the Government of Canada decides to adopt the EPA regulations, the use of formaldehyde in finished wood-based products, such as plywood, cabinets, and countertops, would be subject to stricter standards and regulations.

It is important to note that Canadian exporters of composite wood products already adhere to the American and Californian standards voluntarily, through the CSA Group, to export to the American market.

Everyone in the House, even my colleagues here, is surely asking themselves the same question. They can hardly wait to hear what I am going to say next. Everyone wants to know why the member for Mégantic—L'Érable cares about today's motion. The answer is simple. I am proud to say that the largest plant in North America that manufactures particle panels is not in the United States, Montreal, Toronto, or in the riding of my colleague who tabled the motion. No, it is in Lac-Mégantic, in the riding of Mégantic—L'Érable, and I am very proud of that.

My colleagues are also proud of that. Having great businesses in our ridings is a real source of pride. It is nice to be able to share that with our colleagues. There is a small town of nearly 6,000 residents that is home to a plant called Tafisa Canada. The plant provides employment for 350 families in Lac-Mégantic and generates substantial economic spinoffs linked to all the suppliers and shippers, not to mention the tax benefits for the municipality. When a plant of that size is located in a small community, it helps keep the town alive and well.

This morning, I had the pleasure of discussing Motion No. 102 with Tafisa Canada's president, Louis Brassard. I am going to brag again: it is a Portuguese investment by Sonae Industria. The Lac-Mégantic plant is the largest Portuguese investment outside of Portugal. Also, the entire management team and all the jobs are Canadian.

That is why in Lac-Mégantic, we are proud of Tafisa Canada, which has invested more than $400 million in our town since 1992. Tafisa Canada manufactures 900,000 cubic metres of particle board annually, or 45,000 panels a day, shipped by 300 trucks and 50 rail cars a week, and provides 25 student jobs per summer.

The number 25 is very important, because if we want to keep people in the regions, then we have to provide jobs to our students. The summer is an extraordinary opportunity for Tafisa Canada to tell young people that there is employment back home and that if they stay, they will see what a bright future they could have in a small region. Tafisa Canada does $300 million in sales. That is huge for a small municipality like Lac-Mégantic.

I had a good discussion with the company's president about the consequences of Canada not harmonizing its regulations with those of the United States. First, there would be the risk of dumping. Plants that do not meet the new standards in December 2017 might decide to dump their non-compliant goods in Canada because they will no longer be able to sell them in the United States.

This would pose a threat to Canadians' health and the economic health of our regions and factories, which is absolutely unacceptable. Our factories follow the rules and we cannot accept that people who do not are allowed to take such action.

Here in Quebec and Canada, a factory with fewer controls than the major manufacturers could decide to make lower quality panels. I have not yet talked about plants in other countries, such as China, that have little regard for North American rules because they can dump their goods on our markets.

The Quebec minister of forests, wildlife and parks has just written to the Minister of Natural Resources to ask that the same rules be enforced. This support was just given by the Government of Quebec. I will read two paragraphs of this letter, which was sent February 8.

In recent years, Quebec and Canadian plants have made significant investments in order to comply with the norms and standards on formaldehyde emissions, particularly the CARB standard.

Products from Asia that do not meet the same quality, safety, and certification standards will no longer be allowed on the American market. Those products could then be diverted to the Canadian market because Canada has more flexible and less restrictive regulations than the United States.

That is our concern and that is what could happen if the government does not follow up on this motion. In closing his letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Quebec minister of forests, wildlife and parks stated the following:

I support the association's initiative to adopt Canadian regulations on formaldehyde emissions similar to those in place in the United States. I urge you to also support this initiative with the federal health minister...who would have jurisdiction over such a regulation.

This motion, therefore, has not only the unanimous support of the House, but also strong support from the Government of Quebec, which understands the importance of adopting such regulations.

In conclusion, I want to say that we are going to support this motion. It is good for Canadians' health, Canada's economy, and the citizens of Lac-Mégantic.

Formaldehyde Emissions
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Carol Hughes

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Rail Transportation
Adjournment Proceedings

February 16th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House this evening to speak to another issue in Lac-Mégantic that is near and dear to my heart. This time I am going to demonstrate another kind of enthusiasm, because I am confident that the federal government is going to confirm any day now that Lac-Mégantic will be getting a rail bypass.

In my speech earlier I had the opportunity to talk about a company called Tafisa. It uses the rail line in Lac-Mégantic to ship about 50 rail cars full of composite wood products every week, products destined for markets around the world.

Unfortunately, we have a problem in Lac-Mégantic. The problem is that the rail line continues to go through the heart of downtown Lac-Mégantic, even after the tragedy. This means that the people of Lac-Mégantic, who are trying to heal after the events of July 2013, feel as though they are reliving the tragedy every time they hear the train.

We are in a tough situation, because we cannot expect the train to stop running. It is crucial to Lac-Mégantic's survival. These days, however, the train is also Lac-Mégantic problem. We have been asking the Minister of Transport questions regularly here in the House.

In January, the Prime Minister was in Sherbrooke and had this to say to the people of Lac-Mégantic: “Together with the Minister [of Transport], I am committed to expediting the process to the extent possible in order to help you.”

Yesterday, one month later, the Minister of Transport said, in response to a question, “...it is important to expedite the process, and we are working as a team to figure out how to do that.”

One month later, they have not yet figured out how to do that despite all the resources currently at Transport Canada's disposal.

How is it that a prime minister tells the people of Lac-Mégantic that they will do everything they can to help them, he tells his transport minister to expedite things and, one month later, the minister tells us that they are working as a team to determine how they can speed things up?

Once again today, the Minister of Transport answered a question I asked him with lines we have heard a lot:

...this work is done together with the Province of Quebec; AECOM, the company that conducted the study; and also with the town of Lac-Mégantic and Mayor Cloutier. We have begun this work. We want to do it in a responsible manner. We understand the situation in Lac-Mégantic. I visited the town three times. We want to expedite the process and we are doing everything we can to do so.

I would like to see those words translated into action. We have had a month to work on this. I would like those words to turn into an announcement for the people of Lac-Mégantic, an announcement stating that the government will keep working to expedite the study and confirming that there will be a Lac-Mégantic bypass.

I do not just want details about how they plan to proceed. Yes, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport and everyone in Parliament said it is important to proceed. Can we get an answer about whether there will be a Lac-Mégantic bypass? We want that answer to be yes.