Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
Specifically, I will discuss how the bill supports a results-oriented, accountable approach to federal sustainability. As chair of the environment committee, I also want to mention how the bill has incorporated many of the environment committee recommendations that were tabled as the first report of the committee, and a unanimous report, I might add, which is why today is so confusing with what is being brought forward.
I will begin by speaking about how the federal sustainable development strategy, or FSDS, supports accountability and transparency. Next, I will discuss the indicators that will be put in place to measure progress and how they will help demonstrate sustainable development results. Finally, I will describe how the amendments in Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability in future strategies and how they would complement action already being taken under our current FSDS. This includes clause 5, which seeks to ensure the federal government's approach better reflects Canada's diversity and its heritage.
The government has committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency, and that includes being transparent and accountable when it comes to the sustainable development results we achieve for Canadians. The FSDS that was tabled in October 2016 reflects this commitment. It provides the foundation for accountability by clearly defining what government wants to achieve.
At the core of the strategy, there are 13 aspirational goals, supported by measurable medium-term targets. The strategy identifies the federal minister responsible for achieving each of those targets.
The sustainable development goals and targets support the vision that Canada is one of the greenest countries in the world and that we want our quality of life to continue to improve. The goals reflect the environmental sustainable development goals of the United Nations 2030 agenda, aligning Canada's strategy with the priorities of the international community.
Responding to the expectations of Canadians and the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the strategy includes stronger and more ambitious targets than previous strategies tabled in 2010 and 2013.
For the first time, short-term milestones have been included in the strategy. These milestones will help ensure we are on track to achieve our medium-term targets and our long-term goals.
I will now discuss how we are measuring progress on those strategies and communicating our results to parliamentarians, stakeholders, and Canadians.
Our strategy identifies a total of 46 indicators that will help us measure and report on our goals and targets. They are based on sound science and track Canada's progress on sustainable development issues about which Canadians care, such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, water quality, and our protected areas.
Many come from a network of environmental monitoring programs from across the country. These science-based programs deliver the data and information needed for the indicators. Many are founded on collaborative partnerships with provinces and territories, our partners.
For example, the air quality indicators report to Canadians on levels of five key air pollutants that can affect their health. These indicators use data from sources like the national air pollution surveillance program and a collaboration between Environment and Climate Change Canada and provincial, territorial, and municipal environmental agencies.
Similarly, the indicator on water quality in Canadian rivers uses data from federal, provincial, and territorial monitoring programs across Canada, as well as water quality guidelines from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and provincial and territorial sources.
Drawing on the indicators, the FSDS includes starting points so Canadians can closely track the government's progress over the strategy's three-year cycle. For instance, the strategy indicates that in 2014, 64.4% of Canada's electricity came from renewable sources and 80% from non-emitting sources. Canada's target is for 90% of our electricity to come from renewable and non-emitting sources by 2030, and 100% in the long term. As of 2015, 10.6% of Canada's terrestrial area was protected. Our target is 17% of lands and freshwater conserved by 2020. As the strategy is implemented, the government has already begun to report on the results.
The first-ever FSDS update was published in June 2017. The updates have provided early results for short-term milestones and show that a number of them have already been accomplished.
For example, Canada has ratified the historic Paris agreement. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change has been adopted by first ministers of the federal government and the 11 provinces and territories, an achievement about which we should feel quite proud. We have surpassed our target of protecting 5% of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017.
Through the tabling of a whole-of-government FSDS progress report that will draw on the indicators, the government will continue to report on sustainable development progress.
I will now describe how accountability and reporting will be enhanced, including through the amendments in Bill C-57.
Following our review of the FSDA in the spring of 2016, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended that the government take action to strengthen accountability under the act. The government listened and has responded. Bill C-57 includes a number of amendments to significantly strengthen reporting and ensure that the government can be held accountable for results.
The bill provides a comprehensive suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles to guide future strategies. This includes a principle that a results and delivery approach is key to meeting measurable targets. This new approach clarifies the importance of developing objectives, developing strategies for meeting them, and using indicators to report on progress.
Bill C-57 would also require that each FSDS target be measurable and include a time frame. This would ensure that future strategies could support rigorous performance measurement and reporting.
The bill also specifies that departments and agencies across government are responsible for contributing to the development of FSDS progress reports. Sustainable development is not something that one department working on its own can accomplish. It is a whole-of-Government approach with a broad range of federal organizations that must play a role in developing, implementing, and reporting on the strategy.
Our approach must also reflect the input and perspectives of all Canadians, not just the perspective of government. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the sustainable development advisory council, is so important.
Under Bill C-57, the sustainable development advisory council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that would be referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure the government would take a whole-of-Canada view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians that would reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.
Clause 5 also seeks to increase the number of indigenous people representatives on the council to better reflect indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada. This directly supports our efforts to forge new relationships with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
The government recognizes the importance of a transparent and accountable sustainable development approach. It is important that parliamentarians hold the government accountable for sustainable development goals and progress, and the amendments in the bill would strengthen and elevate their role.
The bill would require that all federal organizations bound by the act report each year to parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, on progress in implementing their sustainability strategies. We found it was important to make them accountable back. We do not want to have to wait for the auditor to tell us what is going on. These strategies comply with and contribute to the broader FSDS and support the whole-of-government approach.
With this FSDS, which is the strongest to date, the government established ambitious goals, targets, and milestones that would let Canadians know where we wanted to be on sustainable development.
The indicators show the progress being made, drawing on sound science and high-quality data from across the country. The indicators will help determine whether we are on track to meet the targets and where we need to focus our efforts to address remaining challenges. They also form the basis of the reporting to parliamentarians and Canadians.
Strengthening accountability was a key issue and it was in the unanimous second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I am very proud of our recommendations, the government's adoption of the recommendations, and the new bill that we are discussing today.