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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

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Sheehan Liberal 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 EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative 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 EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP 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 TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

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

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative 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.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable for raising this important question. It is important for the people of Lac-Mégantic and we understand the situation.

The safety and security of Canada's transportation system remains an indisputable priority to our government and rail safety is the top priority for the Minister of Transport. We are investing $143 million in budget 2016 in order to improve rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods. This investment helps Transport Canada continue to monitor all federal railways to ensure enhanced compliance and their capacity to enforce safety rules.

The accelerated removal of DOT-111 tank cars for transporting crude oil is a crucial step toward strengthening our rail system by making sure that crude oil no longer travels in the least crash-resistant tank cars. Transport Canada will ensure that the expedited deadline set by the minister is met and will not hesitate to act swiftly in the event that old tank cars transporting crude oil are uncovered.

What is more, the Minister of Transport remains committed to reducing the number of accidents and incidents on the Canadian rail network and at federally regulated crossings. There are new technologies that have proven to be effective, and we are making over $55 million in investments across the country through the new rail safety improvement program.

The member for Mégantic—L'Érable again mentioned the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. The minister has visited Lac-Mégantic three times and has spoken directly with residents who shared their concerns about rail safety in their community. We understand their concerns. The Lac-Mégantic disaster in 2013 was one of the most tragic moments in Canada's transportation history.

I can assure the House that Transport Canada continues to monitor rail safety in the region and will not hesitate to act if necessary. What is more, during a visit to Sherbrooke, the Prime Minister met with the mayor of Lac-Mégantic and promised to do everything in his power to expedite the feasibility study. Since that time, the Minister of Transport has contacted the Government of Quebec to organize a meeting with the province and the Town of Lac-Mégantic in order to discuss the rail bypass and the possibility of expediting the feasibility study.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, if I may, I would like to commend my colleague on the quality of her French. I congratulate her. It is not always easy to speak in French, but I think she did a great job. I also want to congratulate her on her appointment to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. We will have the opportunity to speak regularly about Lac-Mégantic.

I heard the parliamentary secretary express her support. I thank her, as well as the minister, the Prime Minister, and all members of the House. The NDP asked a question yesterday about Lac-Mégantic.

Now that we all agree that we need to take action and expedite the process, I would like the parliamentary secretary to commit to passing the message on to the Minister of Transport.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

As mandated by the Prime Minister, our government is committed to improving rail safety. That is the top priority for the Minister of Transport. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of the July 2013 disaster.

Our government is committed to finding ways to expedite the study and to continue the dialogue with the people of Lac-Mégantic and with other stakeholders in order to help get the community back on its feet and to find a solution.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, let me pick up where I left off last year, November 2, when I asked the member for Regina—Wascana why he continues to support the carbon tax scheme, which will cost my province of Saskatchewan substantially in jobs and in money.

We know the Liberals are on this borrowing binge of billions of dollars. They are well over their projected $10-billion deficit they promised during the general election. They are at least double, maybe even triple over that. We will find out soon. However, we also know that borrowed money has to be paid back sometime. Will it be my children or my grandchildren who are going to have to pay this debt back?

The Liberals, we have now found out, are raising taxes on the middle class that they talk so joyfully about every day in this House.

The Prime Minister promised a new era of co-operative federalism. Instead, he is using a sledgehammer to force provinces like mine, that have not signed on to this carbon tax, and the territories to impose a massive tax grab.

Let us go to the recent Toronto Sun headline that stated, “Trudeau carbon tax takes from the poor, gives to the rich”.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I just want to remind the member that he is not to refer to either the Prime Minister or any other member by their name in the House.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, as my colleague, the member for Carleton, has pointed out repeatedly, we know the effect of carbon taxes are felt most by those who have the least. We know the government is censoring a Finance Canada memo showing the impact of this carbon tax on the gap between the rich and the poor.

If the carbon tax is really revenue neutral, as the Liberals say it is, then why are they not releasing the data? They know the numbers. Why are they continuing, every day in this House, to hide that number from us? Because we know that poor households spend a larger share of their income on gas, groceries, and heat. They will suffer the most from this new federally mandated carbon tax.

Our largest trading partner is the United States. It has repeatedly said it will lower business taxes and will not have a carbon tax.

Our province of Saskatchewan is very worried. Do members know why? It is not a level playing field, as our companies will have increased costs of doing business because of this unfair carbon tax. Last year alone, in my province of Saskatchewan, we lost 7,900 full-time jobs in the last 12 months in one of the great provinces of this country.

I ask, why does the government pursue this tax grab on those who can least afford it by imposing a plan that will cost Saskatchewan its competitiveness and employment opportunities?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Andy Fillmore LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Madam Speaker, it does in fact bring me joy to rise in the House today to talk about our government's plan to put a tax or price on carbon pollution and to speak about how it will help Canada's middle class.

It is not conjecture, but rather we know that pricing carbon pollution is the most effective way to reduce emissions and to create a clean-growth economy. For this reason, it is a key part of our government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.

Carbon pricing will provide certainty and predictability for Canadian businesses. It will encourage businesses and Canadians alike to reduce emissions and help Canada transition to a low-carbon economy. Because it is predictable and gradual, carbon pricing will drive innovation and attract investment capital to Canada to create the middle-class jobs of tomorrow and beyond.

Again, this is not conjecture. British Columbia's introduction of a carbon price demonstrates this well. Studies show that carbon pricing reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the province while its economy, including a thriving clean-tech sector, grew faster than that of the rest of Canada. Not only that, but as a result of the B.C. revenue-neutral price on carbon, middle-class families got a tax cut of 5% for the two bottom tax brackets. Today, B.C. has the lowest overall personal taxes in the country, thanks to its carbon tax.

In Alberta, the carbon price will provide financial support for those who need it most, covering 60% of households. These rebates, which will start in July, will put up to $520 in the pockets of middle-class families, and that is cash, not conjecture.

This is why our plan gives all provinces and territories the flexibility to decide how they implement a price on carbon pollution. They can use the revenue as they see fit, including supporting middle-class families in ways similar to the B.C. and Alberta examples that I just gave.

The member for Regina—Wascana has represented his constituents in this House for over 24 years, with considerable success and aplomb, I might add. He knows well the benefits Saskatchewan can see from introducing a carbon price. For example, with a carbon price of $20 per tonne, Saskatchewan could reduce personal income taxes by over one-third, and cut its provincial sales tax by two-thirds. At $30 per tonne, Saskatchewan could completely eliminate sales tax. How about that for protecting the environment and growing the economy?

By putting a price on the things that we do not want, like pollution, provinces can do things that middle-class Canadians want and need, like reducing taxes and creating good, middle-class jobs.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues across the floor are fond of telling us that their carbon tax scheme is revenue-neutral, yet they continue to refuse to disclose the cost. Every day in the House we ask that question. What is the cost?

Saskatchewan businesses, as early as last year, came to the House. They are not looking for hand-outs. We are not a province with hand-outs. We work. The businesses in our province of Saskatchewan are proud of what they have accomplished over the last number of years. However, when they came here, they pleaded with the current government to absolutely stop its job-killing tax schemes. Some 7,900 jobs were lost last year in our province.

Saskatchewan wants to be competitive. We love competition, but that does not include a carbon tax. We are still one of the only provinces, if not the only province, holding out.

We on this side of the House are also fighting for the working-class Canadians. Why do the Liberals insist, then, on inflicting—

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, after a decade of inaction and years of lost opportunities, we are finally taking the steps required to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren.

Under our plan, each province has the flexibility to decide how to implement the price on carbon, based on their regional context and how they use those revenues. I have outlined just a few steps that Saskatchewan could take, including completely eliminating the sales tax in Saskatchewan. That would certainly be a job creator.

Carbon pricing is just one element of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Our focus will remain on taking real, concrete, and lasting action to reduce our emissions, grow our economy, and create good, middle-class jobs across Canada and certainly in Saskatchewan.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to talk about marine debris, in light of an incident on November 3, when a South Korean cargo ship lost 35 shipping containers at the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. These shipping containers were insulated with styrofoam. The debris ended up washing up along the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the coast of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, in the District of Tofino, and on Vargas Island.

As soon as I heard about the issue, I contacted the acting superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. I talked to local government officials and first nations. We called on Ottawa for funding support, because there was no mechanism to clean up the debris on the west coast. After a week, there was no response from Ottawa, and the local communities were left to clean up what turned out to be fridges on their beaches and styrofoam that was getting into the ecosystem, into fish and shellfish, and really contaminating the local ecosystem. This could have been prevented.

Marine debris is a huge problem where I live, and it is only getting worse as we see increased traffic on the west coast with the increased trade with the Pacific Rim and Asia. There is 6% growth in our trade with Asia. The government is working toward increasing that trade, yet we see no mechanism to deal with the environmental fallout of marine debris. There is actually no money going to clean up debris right now targeted specifically to marine debris.

The people on the west coast would like to see a mechanism tied to economic growth and a real commitment from the Government of Canada and corporate interests that they are going to invest in protecting the coastline.

Right now we are relying on local organizations and true community champions like Surfrider and the local indigenous-led Guardians to do that kind of work, and we are giving them no funding. In fact, when this incident took place, they were given no money to help with fuel or to even buy coffee and cookies for their many volunteers. Nothing came from Ottawa. This is a terrible situation. At the time, we did not even know what was in those containers.

The cleanup of the high-profile beaches is mostly complete through the combined resources of these community volunteers, such as Surfrider, and the great work of the Pacific Rim National Park staff. However, now they are focusing on remote areas outside the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The surveillance of the remote areas is complete. We know where pretty much everything is and where to concentrate the cleanup efforts, but some of the debris is buried deep in the beach, under logs and sand, and requires large equipment to remove it.

Parks Canada received $72,000 from the South Korean cargo ship for the cleanup effort. What we need now is a mechanism to transfer the money from Parks Canada to the community volunteers, organizations like Surfrider and the indigenous Guardians program, so they can get reimbursed for their cleanup efforts and finish the job. The only reason this debris has been removed from the shoreline so far is because of these community volunteers.

I am calling on the government to not only release this funding immediately and get it to the local community organizations but to establish a plan. We really need a plan. We need a national and international plan. Right now, the ocean protection plan, as has been discussed, is not talking about marine debris.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni for his concern and advocacy for the sensitive ecosystems that are so important to all of us.

We have been clear that the safety and protection of the public and the environment are one of our government's primary concerns. He is right. There is a significant volume of Canada's commodities and processed goods that are exported by marine transportation. It employs about 250,000 Canadians and injects more than $25 billion into Canada's economy.

With this in mind, the Prime Minister announced an unprecedented $1.5-billion oceans protection plan on November 7, 2016, the details of which I will get into momentarily. We realize that a consultative process would be required to address these diverse coasts and that would be important. The oceans protection plan was developed through collaborative work done by indigenous and coastal communities and various government programs.

This unparalleled plan, which we will begin implementing this year, includes tabling new legislation which would address abandoned, derelict, and wrecked vessels. It would also require shipowners to mark and remove any hazardous wreck that results from an accident, including any objects from a ship that have washed ashore. This will provide an added means of protection for local communities and taxpayers once the new statute comes into force.

Our government knows that Canadians rely on our coasts and waterways for economic reasons as well as for cultural and recreational purposes. The safety and protection of our waters and of the people travelling on them are of great importance to this government.

The hon. member's question asks specifically about the fragments of empty containers lost overboard from the MV Hanjin Seattle, some of which are washing ashore along Vancouver Island. These container fragments are not posing an immediate environmental or navigation hazard, for which Transport Canada would immediately move into action, but they are unsightly on our beaches and shores. As such, the lead agency for the cleanup, Parks Canada, has advised us that it will be moving quickly to remove this debris.

I want to assure the member that the incident that involved the Nathan E. Stewart on B.C.'s north coast, which also would have been a concern, showed us all that we needed to improve the existing maritime safety system in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to maritime pollution from vessels.

For that specific incident, we acknowledge the assistance of all responders and partners, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Province of British Columbia, the community of Bella Bella, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, and the Heiltsuk Nation, in the management of this incident, much of which was carried out in challenging weather and environmental conditions. Collaborating with the Heiltsuk Nation in particular has allowed responders to benefit from the nation's traditional knowledge and extensive experience with weather, tides, and navigation in this area. Working together is the key.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, our coastline is becoming a junkyard. There is an increase in ocean plastics as a result of trade, and the number of cargo ships that are going through the Strait of Juan de Fuca are actually immediately contaminating our ecosystems. This is something that is urgent to the people in the communities where I live. It has contaminated our shellfish, our food security, and what we count on most, a clean ocean.

We want to be guaranteed that the marine debris cleanup will be part of the ocean protection plan. Specifically in terms of this case of the shipments that fell off the South Korean ship at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we want to know that the $72,000 was given to Pacific Rim National Park and that the bureaucrats will do everything they can under the direction of the government to release that money to community organizations like Surfrider and Tribal Parks Guardians, because they have used community funds by raising money from local businesses and local people to contribute to the cleanup.

It should be the big corporate interests that benefit and profit from shipping cargo to Asia that should be contributing. There should be a mechanism, whether it be incorporated into each TCU, each piece of cargo, that is directly related to contributing to cleaning up debris. This is having a huge impact on our communities. The amount of ocean plastics that we are seeing, the density of ocean plastics in the water is through the roof—

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, Canadians rely on the coasts and waterways for their living, their culture, and their recreation, and it is absolutely imperative that we protect them for generations to come. That is why we announced a $1.5-billion investment to make Canada a world leader in marine safety and take a powerful step toward co-management of our coasts with indigenous and coastal communities. This oceans protection plan will ensure our waters and coasts remain safe and clean for generations to come. I want to assure the hon. member that Canada is putting the needed safeguards in place to make certain that we are better informed, better prepared, and better equipped to protect our precious coastlines and waterways.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:46 p.m.)