Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Brampton Centre for bringing forward his private member's legislation.
I rise today in support of Bill C-344, which would require an assessment of the benefits that a community would derive from a construction, maintenance, or repair project. This common-sense legislation will have many benefits for Canadian communities.
In 2015, we campaigned on historic infrastructure investments. The bill would add community benefit to the our investment and construction goals. The ministry already receives submissions on cost and time of construction, however, there is no policy that requires contractors to assess what benefits a project would offer to our communities. Bill C-344 would address this gap in the current procurement policies.
Bill C-344 also speaks to the triple bottom line, which I have adopted, that emphasizes social, economic, and environmental innovation.
Community benefit agreements are a new approach to empowering local communities to partner with developers in order to respond to local challenges. CBAs can be used to address economic development and growth, but also poverty reduction and environmental sustainability in neighbourhoods across Canada.
The bill seeks to maximize the value of every public dollar invested in our communities. By requesting applicants to submit an assessment on community benefits, the minister can make a much more informed decision around community priorities.
Under this new system, the government can weigh the additional benefits each contractor will bring to the community, including additional information such as jobs created during and after, environmental benefit, and costs. The minister can move forward with greater confidence that money is being invested wisely in our communities.
The economic gains of procurement are clear. Public Services and Procurement Canada manages close to $15 billion in procurement on behalf of federal departments and agencies. These procurements multiply economic opportunities and community benefits across the country through direct and indirect effects.
Crucially, close to 40% of our overall procurement business goes to small and medium-size enterprises, which are almost always local. Using figures from the last three years, 98% of construction contracts awarded in Ontario went to suppliers based in Ontario.
This policy will also incentivize private construction firms to think more broadly about their role in communities, and is in practise already with many municipalities. This approach offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to increase the scope of their supply to include a focus on social innovation and environmental benefit. In addition, the platform includes a proposal for federal infrastructure projects as a means to ensure development of opportunities for veterans and other under-represented groups.
Bill C-344 also offers an opportunity for Public Services and Procurement Canada to engage in work with municipalities. No one appreciates and understands the diverse and unique needs of communities better than the people who live there.
Canadians require a procurement process that works for them and reflects their values. Alongside transparency and accountability, procurement can fulfill economic, social, and environmental benefits. Bill C-344 is an opportunity for Canadians to get the most out of their tax dollars, ensuring tax dollars work for them.
I again thank the member for Brampton Centre for bringing forward the bill.