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.