Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Lakeland for her motion on a matter of such importance, not only to our shared province of Alberta, but to British Columbia and indeed all of Canada.
As an Albertan, I am proud that our government, after extensive consultation, approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Before I go into why we approved this pipeline, let me first remind the hon. member how her party, under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, failed to protect the interests of Alberta's resource sector. For 10 years, Harper Conservatives talked the good talk but failed to build a single pipeline to take our oil to non-U.S. markets.
I would also like to remind the hon. member that the struggles Alberta families and workers have faced in the last number of years started when her party was in power. More than 25,000 energy sector jobs were lost in the last year of the Harper government. What did it do to help those workers and families? It did absolutely nothing. It even held back infrastructure investments of nearly $1 billion that could have helped those struggling families to gain jobs. I guess that criticizing Premier Notley and the Government of Alberta was more important to the Harper government than helping struggling Alberta families.
When we took office, we immediately started looking for solutions to help Alberta workers and families. In March 2016, we provided $252 million in fiscal stabilization funding to the Government of Alberta. At the same time, we significantly extended employment insurance benefits for all Albertans who needed them. As a result, over 100,000 workers received more than $400 million for five additional weeks of EI support.
Very early in 2016, Export Development Canada provided $750 million in financing, guarantees, bonding instruments, and insurance to oil and gas companies. In July 2016, the Business Development Bank of Canada and ATB Financial partnered to provide $1 billion aimed at making more capital available for small and medium-sized businesses in Alberta. In March 2017, our government announced $30 million, which unlocked $235 million to accelerate the cleanup of orphan wells over the next three years.
My department, Infrastructure Canada, has provided support to almost 200 provincial, municipal, and indigenous infrastructure projects, leading to over $4 billion of joint investment in infrastructure over the coming years. This is on top of the $200 million that flows from the federal government to Alberta communities yearly through the federal gas tax program.
Finally, our government approved two oil and two gas pipelines, including Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, which will help get more of our resources to the markets we already have and open up new markets so we are not so reliant on our neighbour to the south to buy our oil.
We approved Kinder Morgan because it is in the interest of Canada. It is in the interest of Canada to create thousands of jobs in virtually every part of the country. It is in the interest of Canada to create a way for our resources to get to the global markets. It is in the interest of Canada to receive a fairer price for those resources. It is in the interest of Canada to partner with indigenous communities, respect and recognize their rights, and ensure that traditional knowledge is integrated into our decisions. It is in the interest of Canada to develop its resources in a way that does not compromise the environment.
The previous government generated complete uncertainty, widespread public mistrust, and a total inability to get a major energy project built. That approach did not work, as demonstrated by the Federal Court of Appeal ruling that overturned the Harper government's approval of the northern gateway pipeline because it failed to consult with indigenous peoples.
Since coming to office, our government has been guided by a simple but profound belief: that the economy and the environment must go hand in hand. In effect, the only way to have a dynamic economy is to ensure that it is done in a sustainable environment. We also know that good projects, such as the Trans Mountain expansion, will not get built unless they carry the confidence of Canadians.
That is why, in January 2016, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change introduced a set of interim principles to move forward on projects already under review. These principles reflect our priorities: maintaining certainty for investors, expanding public consultation, enhancing indigenous engagement, and including greenhouse gas emissions in our project approvals and assessments. The benefits of the interim principles were felt immediately.
However, our goal has always been a permanent fix to Canada's environmental assessments. That is why, just seven months into our mandate, we launched a comprehensive review that included modernizing the National Energy Board, protecting our fish, and preserving our waterways. We appointed expert panels, enlisted parliamentarians, released a discussion paper, and consulted Canadians every step of the way, listening more than we spoke.
Last week, our government revealed the fruits of those efforts with a new plan for reviewing major resource projects. Introduced last Thursday by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Bill C-69 has the potential to transform our natural resource sectors, providing project proponents with clearer rules and greater certainty while ensuring that local communities have more input and the rights of indigenous people are respected and recognized.
The Trans Mountain expansion decision was consistent with this approach. It was accompanied by a historic investment of $1.5 billion in the oceans protection plan, an unprecedented commitment to safeguard our coasts and partner with indigenous and coastal communities to ensure the health of our waters, shores, and marine life. That is how we have demonstrated our commitment to the environment. That is how we will ensure that economic growth comes because of, not at the expense of, protecting the environment.
I am delighted to see the hon. member supporting the TMX pipeline. Unfortunately, she has chosen to use this as an opportunity for wedge politics instead of nation building. She asks the government to take action. As the Minister of Natural Resources has pointed out, that advice, while welcome, is late.
The Prime Minister reached out to Premier Notley and Premier Horgan shortly after this issue arose. The Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change have been having discussions with their counterparts, and high-level officials from our government have flown out to British Columbia to seek a resolution. I have no doubt that a way forward can be found. It is in our national interest, and in the interest of the Government of Canada, to speak with some degree of moderation in encouraging a path forward to achieve the objective, which is to get this project built.
As the Minister of Natural Resources has already pointed out, our government consulted widely on the TMX. The National Energy Board conducted a thorough review and recommended approval with 157 binding conditions. The minister then extended the process and appointed a special ministerial panel to hold additional hearings, allowing even more people to participate. Our government believes in consulting with Canadians, and we are certainly not going to try to stop a provincial government from doing the same.
Let me be very clear. Any proposed regulation by the B.C. government to attempt to limit the flow of bitumen through the pipeline would be outside provincial jurisdiction. We approved the federally regulated pipeline project that will create thousands of good, well-paying jobs across Canada, and we stand by that decision.
In December, we intervened with the National Energy Board when the City of Burnaby attempted to delay the permitting process. At that time, the board created a dedicated process to resolve future permitting delays, should they arise. In that case, there was a specific action to challenge. At the moment, there is no comparable initiative by the Government of British Columbia.
This is not a time to fan the flames of division or to set parties hunkering down in one section of the Constitution Act or another. Now is the time for a measured, thoughtful, and appropriate response, one that responds to actions, not intentions. Should the Government of British Columbia attempt to impose unacceptable delays or take any other action that is not within its jurisdiction, our government will act as any other reasonable and responsible government would.
As a member of Parliament from Edmonton, Alberta, I know first-hand the importance of projects such as TMX to our communities. When our government was elected, Alberta's economy was struggling. Resource prices were down. Unemployment was up, and too many of my friends, neighbours, and fellow Albertans were suffering through a significant economic downturn. Our federal government recognized that Alberta and other resource economies needed help, and we stepped up to provide that assistance. The approval of the Kinder Morgan TMX is part of that effort to help the global economy and to create jobs for Albertans and for Canadians. That is why TMX is so important. That is why our government approved it. That is why we have criss-crossed the country supporting it, and that is why we will make sure that it is built.