House of Commons Hansard #295 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.


Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Brampton North for all the great work she does with those wonderful seniors.

My riding is very similar to Brampton North, and these are the types of difficulties that seniors face every day. To apply for social benefits, they have to have been in Canada for 10 years, and sometimes it is very hard for them to find copies of boarding cards, medical records, and whatnot. However, the bill we have brought forward in relation to the entry and exit system would make it very easy for those seniors to compile their data and prove that they have completed 10 years of residency in Canada so that they will be entitled to those benefits without any of the hassles they face today.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Act. Simply put, the proposed changes would provide the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, with the legislative authority to collect basic exit information on all travellers leaving Canada. The information we are talking about is simple biographical data, such as name, date of birth, and nationality, just enough to know who left the country and when.

Up to now, this has been something the CBSA has not been able to do. The CBSA collects information on all travellers entering Canada, but it collects exit data only for non-citizens who leave by land. Bill C-21 would close this information gap by providing a remedy. It would authorize the CBSA to collect exit information on all travellers. For those leaving by land, it would get it from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which collects the same information on entry into the United States. For those leaving by air, it would get it from the airlines. In other words, travellers would not have to provide any additional information or be otherwise inconvenienced in any way.

The process by which information would be collected and exchanged under Bill C-21 was the subject of extensive consultations. The government has made privacy a paramount consideration in the development of this legislation. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been extensively engaged on this subject. In fact, when the commissioner testified before the public safety committee, which I have the honour of sitting on, he said that the information in question is “not particularly sensitive”.

Even so, the new system of exit data collection would require that privacy impact assessments be carried out, potentially by a number of federal organizations, before being implemented, always, of course, in accordance with Canadian law. This is in line with our commitment to accountability and transparency, particularly in the realm of national security. Canada now has the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, and Bill C-59 would create a new review agency for security and intelligence activities. In addition, the public safety minister has said clearly that the government is examining options for a specific review body for CBSA.

All of this should give Canadians confidence that the measures in Bill C-21 would be implemented with the utmost consideration for rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy. The Privacy Commissioner said at the committee that Bill C-21 would serve “important public policy objectives”, and I certainly agree with that.

It would, for example, address several security blind spots caused by the fact that we do not currently keep track of who leaves our country. For example, at the moment, very curiously, we have no way of knowing if wanted individuals are fleeing Canada to escape prosecution. Similarly, we might not know that an abducted child who is the subject of an amber alert has been taken out of the country, or that someone who is radicalized is leaving Canada to join a foreign terrorist group.

This lack of information also creates administrative problems. For instance, it complicates the administration of social benefit programs with residency requirements and applications for citizenship and permanent residence, because there is no quick and reliable way of knowing that an applicant spent the requisite amount of time in this country.

The public safety committee heard from a senior immigration department official, and I will quote this because it is very important to get it on the record. She said, “I cannot stress enough how access to this information will enhance program integrity across multiple lines of business by providing IRCC's officers with a tool to objectively confirm an applicant's presence in, absence from, entry into, or departure from Canada.”

Immigration officials also told the committee that Bill C-21 would help to ensure that people who are entitled to Canadian citizenship and permanent residence can get it with a minimum of hassle. Rather than requiring applicants to produce documentation to prove their travel history from years past and expending department resources to conduct investigations and verifications, reliable and accurate information about who was in the country, and when, would already exist.

Bill C-21 would address these and other gaps, improving Canada's ability to combat cross-border crime, effectively administer immigration and social benefit programs, and continue to manage the border in a way that contributes to the safety and prosperity of Canada and Canadians.

Most of our allies, including those in the Five Eyes, have similar systems already in place and this is for good reason. This legislation would bring Canada in line with our international partners in ways that we have not seen before.

As hon. members well know, our highly trained CBSA officials play a critical role in keeping our borders secure and facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel 24-7. No matter how well we train our border services officers, we must understand that their effectiveness depends on having the right tools. This includes complete and accurate data. That is why the bill is about accurate, timely, and complete information for border services officers in both Canada and the United States.

We owe it to the country's citizens to close the information gaps that exist in our current border operations, and in this light, I ask all members to support the bill.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the bill gives the already overburdened CBSA officers the discretion to collect biographical data on travellers as they leave Canada. I have six border crossings on the south side of my riding and I know they are busy as all get out. It is not only happening with illegals entering the country, but it is a tremendous burden.

What does the government envision so as not to overload our agencies in taking too much data to the point where the data becomes useless?

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my remarks, the bill is a result of wide consultation. Something this government places great importance on is the security of Canadians. It is the paramount responsibility of any state and any government to make sure that security is emphasized and policies are brought forward that underline and protect Canadians' security.

The hon. member talks about resources. With all due respect to the hon. member and the party opposite, it was their government that cut resources from our security agencies when they were in power. We are working with those security agencies and making sure that they receive the funding they are entitled to.

Just a few weeks ago, the party opposite voted against funding for the CBSA, for the RCMP, and for other initiatives that are security focused. This is very concerning and they have some explaining to do on that front. This government and all of us on this side of the House will continue to take security very seriously. We will fight for that every step of the way.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I travel to the United States using the NEXUS card, I enter quickly and easily because of its privileges. When I return, I do not even go through customs. It takes me five minutes and my information is recorded. The only customs officer I meet is the one I give my declaration card to in order to leave the airport.

However, at the same time, I realize that my information has already been recorded and that both countries share all the information. It is not about whether there is a heavy workload, but rather whether the sharing of information compromises the privacy of Canadians.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the member makes a very good point. I have the privilege of working with him at the public safety committee. He brings a great deal of insight to that committee because of what he did in his previous life, if I can put it that way.

As I said, this puts us in line with our allies, particularly the Five Eyes. They are doing similar things. It is about convenience and about ensuring that Canadians do not have to dig up data when questions are asked of where they have been. I know constituents of mine have expressed this concern. Unfortunately, they have been flagged in the past with constant questions about their whereabouts at particular times. This fixes that and brings us in line with international allies and other commitments that we have to Canadians.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, the minister said the bill would help protect taxpayers' dollars by reducing fraud and abuse of certain federal programs with residency requirements and by establishing when people leave Canada we will be able to better determine who is and is not eligible for certain benefits.

The bill gives CBSA the discretion to follow up on this information. If that information reveals that a permanent resident or citizen is living abroad avoiding taxes and only returning to use social services and benefits, what penalties is the government going to be applying to them because it now refuses to revoke citizenship?

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, there are laws in place to address those sorts of concerns. This only relates in part to what the member has asked, but the exit information would only be disclosed in accordance with Canadian law and would adhere to disclosure provisions in both the Privacy Act and the Customs Act. My hon. colleague seems to have a concern that perhaps this is not done, but when citizens have not abided by their legal responsibilities and obligations, there are laws in place to meet those concerns.

The bill is not focused on the concerns the member raises. This is about ensuring we have a more adequate and efficient system. Again, it is in line with what international partners are doing.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I have spoken to Bill C-21 already, which is an act to amend the Customs Act. The majority of its content is supportable, but my issue is that right now there is absolutely nothing in it to deal with one of the most emergent problems facing Canada right now, which is that tens of thousands of people are streaming across our border from the United States illegally. There is no signal from the government whatsoever that it has any plan to amend the safe third country agreement.

Frankly, this is a more pressing concern than Bill C-21, given the fact that this has placed an enormous strain on the Canadian Border Services Agency. By the minister's own admission, 99% of the people who have come to Canada illegally over the last year are still in Canada. Our colleague, who is the shadow minister for public safety, spoke about how he had heard from CBSA that the amount of hours spent screening people who were entering the country via this mechanism had been reduced by 400%.

I do not understand why the government is putting forward this legislative priority before the summer when there is nothing in here that is going to deal with the issue we have at Roxham Road in Quebec. This is an abdication of responsibility, and I welcome the chance to talk about this at great length during the next reading of the bill.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I apologize that I have to interrupt, but the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill will have eight minutes the next time this matter is before the House.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from April 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the third time and passed.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act regarding the use of wood, and to say that the government supports this bill as amended at committee.

I also want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing the bill.

The government supports this bill with the committee's amendments because it aligns well with the government's goals of supporting the Canadian forest industry and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These objectives must be consistent with the government's commitment to ensure a procurement process that is fair, open, and transparent for all suppliers.

The Standing Committee on Natural Resources passed an amendment that the government views as achieving this balance. That is why I call on all members of the House to support the bill as amended. Let me take this opportunity to explain the background of the amendment.

During debate at second reading, we had the opportunity to emphasize the importance of Canada's forestry industry. The forestry industry is one of the industries that built our country. As I said earlier, the industry contributes significantly to Canada today. Last year alone it accounted for $22 billion of Canada's gross domestic product.

The forestry industry puts food on the table for the families of more than 200,000 Canadians. This includes 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities, making the forestry industry one of the leading employers of indigenous people. That is why initiatives like Bill C-354, aimed at supporting the Canadian forestry industry, are deserving of the government's full attention.

The government is committed to fairness, openness, and transparency in the procurement process. These are fundamental values in the policies of Public Services and Procurement Canada.

In addition, witnesses raised some questions and concerns regarding our domestic and international trade obligations during the study of this bill at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, of which I am a member. I want to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for their thorough review and careful analysis of this bill. I also want to thank my colleague, the member for Markham—Thornhill, who also sits on that committee and who proposed an amendment to respond to the concerns and questions raised by witnesses during the study of the bill.

If I may, I would like to read the amendment in its entirety:

In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieve such benefits.

Ultimately, the committee accepted this amendment and referred it back to the House.

This is a very important amendment. It may help make this proposed legislation more effective and ensure this aspect of our support of Canada's forestry industry is on sound footing. It will also ensure fairness, openness, and transparency in federal procurement.

Our discussion today on Bill C-354 also gives us the opportunity to review the measures our government is taking to help Canada's forestry sector embrace innovation and continue to be a vital part of our communities and our economy. The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, for example, calls on all levels of government to encourage greater use of wood in construction.

Research is under way on how the National Building Code of Canada can be updated to allow the use of more wood in construction. The National Research Council and Natural Resources Canada are exploring innovative solutions and carrying out cutting-edge research and development on the potential use of wood in buildings of up to 12 storeys.

Currently there are 500 mid-rise wood buildings in Canada that are either completed, under construction, or at the planning stages because of code changes nationally and provincially. It is expected that this number will rise in the coming years as familiarity with the building code changes grows.

These efforts are the result of broad partnerships, including forestry sector research organizations, academia, industry associations such as the Canadian Wood Council, and federal and provincial governments. Collectively, partners have worked together on research, building codes, materials development, education, and outreach to create awareness and knowledge on wood construction. Our government is supporting this move to wood through innovative projects across the country and around the world.

The Brock Commons Tallwood House is both an engineering and architectural showpiece and an environmental game changer, storing close to 1,600 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 1,000 metric tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of removing 511 cars from the roads each year.

In eastern Canada, the government supported the construction of a 13-storey cross-laminated timber condominium building in Quebec City. The Origine project includes a 12-storey mass timber structure on a concrete podium.

Furthermore, I want to point out that wood and wood products are already essential components that meet the infrastructure needs of the Government of Canada. At Public Services and Procurement Canada alone, 15% of the $160 million for office maintenance is spent on wood and wood products.

Buildings produce 23% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The department is working on making government operations more sustainable, mainly by using sustainable materials, optimizing space, and reducing energy consumption at federal buildings. This is part of the government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

It is the first federal department to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio that takes into account all real property related greenhouse gas emissions and energy reduction initiatives the government has undertaken.

The energy services acquisitions program is a great example of one of these initiatives. The goal of this program is to modernize the heating and cooling system that serves about 80 buildings in Ottawa. This includes many of the buildings around Parliament Hill.

Through this program, we are also piloting and testing wood chips for use as a possible biomass fuel. The results will help determine the potential for using biomass fuels at other federal heating and cooling plants. The department will also meet sustainable performance standards such as leadership in energy and environmental design, commonly referred to as LEED, and Green Globes. These performance standards encourage the use of green products and materials with life-cycle impacts that are economically, socially, and environmentally preferable.

As amended, Bill C-354 would support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas effects, support the Canadian forestry industry, and ensure the integrity of our fair, open, and transparent procurement process. I would encourage my colleagues to support this bill, as amended.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House to oppose Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, use of wood.

I have always been a strong supporter of using wood in the construction of public buildings. As a former mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., I always pushed for the use of wood products in the development of new municipal buildings, and I was proud that my council supported similar actions.

For example, Fort St. John was one of the communities granted a Olympic legacy project by the British Columbia government. We decided to build what we called the Enerplex, which was completed in 2009, and was designed to reflect the community, create a lasting legacy, and continues to shape the city. It is a large recreational facility that promotes sport, community, and personal wellness, as well as provides an attractive venue for events.

Our council focused on building a facility that would have a low carbon footprint, and the city continues to take measures to improve the facility's environmental operations.

The Enerplex has exterior building panels that are rated very high in efficiency, the electrical motors were designed with energy conservation pony motors, and the entire facility employs a computerized building control to help control and minimize energy consumption. Everything was considered, right from the lights in the ceilings down to motion sensor sinks. The complex even has the ability to capture 75% of its waste heat, which is used to heat the domestic hot water and spectator areas.

To reflect our economy and the beautiful forests surrounding the Peace River region, we had wooden columns and arches added to the front of the building as a design feature. This was inspired, in part, by the Beijing Olympic facility where the Canadian teams were housed. British Columbian wood was used to highlight Canada's landscape and to honour our forestry industry. I have been there and it is a dramatic piece of design architecture.

We made sure Fort St. John's Enerplex was built with the best, cost-effective and efficient materials available to us in our specific region of Canada. Had we been located in southern Ontario, I am sure the design and materials used would have been very different.

Bill C-354 would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that in the awarding of certain federal contracts, preference will be given to projects that would promote the use of wood. Do we really need an act to mandate the use of wood in the construction, maintenance or repair of Public Services real property?

While I completely support the forest industry, there are a number of problems associated with the bill. It disregards the fact that there are large regional differences across Canada. What makes sense to use for building material in one region might be completely unviable in another. For example, I notice that there are far more houses built with brick in Ontario, yet when I fly back to Alberta, I see lumber used in our construction.

Bill C-354 would favour the economies of certain regions over others. It is a direct contravention of the mission of Public Services and Procurement Canada, which is to apply an open, fair, and transparent procurement process to obtain the best possible value for the government. It could result in job losses in the concrete and steel industries, which would be an economic substitution. There may not necessarily be new growth, but other sectors could lose contracts and be unable to continue working in the construction sector as concrete, stone or steel is discarded in favour of wood.

The provinces of British Columbia and Quebec have adopted “wood first” policies, British Columbia in 2012, and Quebec in 2013. I was glad to see that, as it made sense for those regions. Approximately, 40 Canadian communities, with strong economic ties to the forest industry, have also implemented their own “wood first” policies.

This decision must remain at the local and regional levels. When we apply this kind of sweeping mandate to the federal level, it pits regions against each other, as well as disrupts the National Building Code.

Speaking of the National Building Code, which is a model building code that forms the basis for all of our provincial building codes, it would certainly be impacted by the legislation. For most construction under federal jurisdiction, the National Building Code of Canada is the applicable code.

These properties include military bases, federal government land, and airport properties that stretch right across our country from coast to coast to coast. Bill C-354 does not take into consideration these far-reaching implications, and makes no attempt to identify or remedy them.

The bill also does not address any safety issues that might arise from giving preferential treatment to wood over other construction materials. Most wood building construction is limited to low to mid-size structures mainly for reasons of fire safety and overall stability.

As stated by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, this bill would “limit and undermine “the freedom of design professionals and experienced contractors to select the most appropriate construction material for its intended function and service”.

I strongly support our forestry industry, and I appreciate the enormous value it provides to the Canadian economy. In my own riding of Yellowhead, which is situated partly in the northern boreal forest of Alberta and into the Rocky Mountains, forestry is one of the leading economic sectors. It employs hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Hinton, Drayton Valley, Edson, and the surrounding areas. I continue to fight for action on the mountain pine beetle that is spreading across the Rocky Mountains and into Alberta destroying the forests along the way.

I am fully aware of the economic value of the forestry industry and the efforts necessary to protect this renewable resource. However, “wood first” policies should, again, be left up to regional governments to implement where it makes sense for them. The federal government should not be pitting one economic region against another. Instead, it is the duty of the federal government to ensure openness and fairness in its procurement policy approach to all industries.

Furthermore, Bill C-354 would contravene Canada's obligations under its international and domestic trade agreements, such as NAFTA, WTO, and the Agreement on Internal Trade. Favouring one sector of the construction industry over another with explicit ministerial preference runs counter to the free market economy and fair bidding processes supported by Conservatives.

Under the former Conservative government, investments were made to improve the environmental performance and competitiveness of Canada's forest industry by focusing on innovation and new product development to expand market opportunities for Canadian pulp and paper related products.

We also introduced the expanding market opportunities program in 2013, which was designed to help create a thriving forest sector by growing international markets; promoting Canadian forest products as an environmentally responsible choice; expanding wood use in North American non-residential and mid-rise construction; and by demonstrating that Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management and a preferred source of sustainable forest products. At the same time, we have always been fully supportive of the free market and fair federal project bidding processes.

We understand that policy interjections by the federal government to tip the scales in favour of any one industry can have damaging effects on other sectors of the economy. What has the Liberal government done? It let the softwood lumber agreement, which provided stability and predictability for industry on both sides of the border, expire in October 2015. Now our forestry companies continue to be harmed by U.S. countervailing duties on Canadian softwood products.

There are always ways the Liberals could step up to the plate and assist the forestry industry, but Bill C-354 is not one of them. The federal government should not mandate the use of wood over any other industry. This would be the same if the government wanted to mandate steel over wood.

We should leave it up to regional, provincial, and municipal governments to decide, rather than forcing an expensive and unnecessary regulatory review of each province's building codes, not to mention the potential legal challenges from non-wood construction sectors that would pile on additional government costs.

In closing, all things considered, I do not support Bill C-354, and I urge the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay to seriously re-evaluate the impacts this bill would have on Canada.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, as a member of Parliament proud to represent the fine forest base community at Nanaimo— Ladysmith, at the foundation of our community and still a driver of so many jobs in the region, I am very pleased to support the bill proposed by my friend and colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. The bill would create room in the public procurement process for building with wood, achieving climate change savings, and also local economy benefits of building more with wood.

On Vancouver Island, there are more than 100 small and medium value-added wood manufacturing businesses. There are 1,100 employees altogether on Vancouver Island, a major economic driver. This is borne out every year in reports by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance. We are very committed to forestry and to adding jobs at every opportunity we get. If we are going to cut the trees, we may as well create jobs and get more value-added benefits at home.

Specifically, in my community, since 1988, Coastland Wood Industries has been a value-added innovator. It is North America's number one manufacturer of plywood veneer and fence posts. After peeling the logs repeatedly to get the veneer off, what remains is a perfectly-sized fence post? Who knew that Nanaimo would have the number one manufacturer of fence posts in North America?

Coastland is an extremely strong and committed employer. The partnerships that Coastland has with the Snuneymuxw First Nation are a model for businesses across the country. They are working to employ and train Snuneymuxw youth and are very committed to their partnerships around land and being a good neighbour. They also have a firewood program to help Snuneymuxw elders, which is another example of value-added forestry. It is so encouraging.

Also, in our community, both TimberWest and Island Timberlands are major drivers of a lot of good community work. They are very important community partners. I look forward to getting out on the land with them this summer and looking at some of the marmot recovery projects they are helping to fund.

Western Forest Products is in Nanaimo and in Ladysmith. A lot of people go to work at these mills. They are milling red cedar, Douglas fir, hem-fir, yellow cedar, and Sitka spruce from a big region coming into the riding and adding that value.

A number of years ago, Harmac Pacific mill was purchased by its employees, and is now largely employee-owned. They are using residual wood waste from their pulp mill to generate renewable energy, enough to power 18,000 homes. It is at the heart of the economy, good unionized jobs and employee ownership as well. They are a real point of pride in our community.

Another really nice partnership on the value-added forestry side is the Vancouver Island University carpentry program. It has strong partnerships with Nanaimo CHBA and other local contractors, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 527. It also works really well with city of Nanaimo building officials.

My my favourite partnership is with Habitat for Humanity where Vancouver Island University carpentry students got their practicum or their credits. Instead of building a fake building that they frame, built up, and then torn down, they worked with Habitat for Humanity to build new affordable housing in Nanaimo, which was just opened a year or so ago. Those students did everything from framing, to the heavy equipment operators having cleared the site, and the interior decorators having finished off the homes. It was such a point of pride. I am grateful to VIU for helping the young carpentry students get invested from the very beginning in building affordable housing.

All of this value-added work and local expertise fits in with the intention of my colleague's legislation. The groundwork is very well prepared by municipal governments and by the provincial government in British Columbia.

In my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Ladysmith Town Council passed a resolution in December 2010, which said:

WHEREAS BC's forest industry has been and will continue to be an integral part of the economic, social and business life of the Town of Ladysmith;

AND WHEREAS the BC Government has passed a Wood First Act to facilitate a culture of wood by requiring use of wood as the primary material in all new provincially funded buildings, in a manner consistent with the British Columbia Building Code;

AND WHEREAS the Town Council of the Town of Ladysmith deems that building with wood is consistent with natural resource, economic, and social stability;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Ladysmith will continue to support the development of its wood culture by:

being a wood champion and supporting the BC government's Wood First Act by adopting this Wood First resolution;

ensuring that the performance of wood systems and products are considered whenever appropriate in all municipal buildings to maximize the achievement of Ladysmith's Civic Green Building Policy;

ensuring that all municipal infrastructure projects in Ladysmith receiving provincial or wood industry financial support employ the appropriate structural or architectural use of wood; and

ensuring that where possible, preference is given to the use of domestic wood products.

My colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay's legislation is the federal chapter of this work that has moved from local business, to local municipality, to our provincial government in British Columbia, and now into the federal realm to boost the use of wood in federally funded infrastructure projects and institutional buildings. There is so much support for this.

The Forest Products Association of Canada has estimated that a 100,000 square foot wood building would store 5,300 tonnes of CO2. It would also contribute 2,100 tonnes of avoided greenhouse gas emissions. This net carbon benefit in a single building is equal to taking 1,400 cars off the road for a year.

The Canadian Climate Forum has also lauded the use of the engineering innovations that have allowed us to build tall wood buildings. It says the potential exists to construct low-carbon emission skyscrapers using mass wood, large wood veneers and beams made from glued laminated wood veneer strands or timber.

There was a great presentation from the British Columbia Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. It has a whole bunch of ways it wants to see governments amend their forestry policies. It plugged very hard the benefits of storage of carbon in wood products. If we put our wood into paper, it does not last very long. If we put it into big laminated beams and then build it into our institutions, which will last for decades, we are benefiting local economy and jobs and also anchoring in climate change savings.

I support my colleague's bill. It would require the Government of Canada to consider using wood products when building, maintaining, or repairing federally owned buildings. Decisions as to which construction materials would be used would be based both on cost and on a climate calculation.

Although the technology is proven and we have good examples, the challenge today is getting builders and those procuring building materials to seriously consider wood as a structural material, not just a finishing material.

The bill, if passed by the House, and it looks like it will be, is to force the federal government to consider wood when building, to make an honest assessment of the potential materials and then build with what is best. As the largest procurer in Canada, the federal government could give this sector a real boost by using this cutting-edge technology at home.

The only concern I have heard is on the firefighting side, and I might be able to talk about that more in questions. I am certainly cognizant of what I have heard some firefighters in my community say, but I am confident from an engineering perspective and the reassurance we have been given at committee that we are in good hands.

I look forward to seeing the House move forward in a good way on the legislation.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker,

[Member spoke in Cree]


I am very proud to be here to support this bill, Bill C-354, which is sponsored by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay. It is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and the use of wood. This bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that, in the awarding of certain contracts, preference be given to projects that promote the use of wood.

The purpose of the bill is to give preference to projects to promote the use of wood when awarding contracts for federal construction, maintenance, or repair projects, while taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The amendments to the bill align with the government's stated principles for procurement process and ensure compliance with Canada's free trade agreement. The amendments ask that the minister consider the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that may allow the use of wood or any other suitable material, product, or resource to achieve this benefit.

Two similar iterations of this bill have been previously defeated in the House. Bill C-429, introduced by Bloc Québécois in 2010, was defeated at report stage on December 15, 2010, and Bill C-574, introduced by Bloc Québécois MP Claude Patry in 2014, was defeated at second reading on December 3, 2014.

I am proud that our government has the following frameworks, policies, and programs in place that will promote sustainable construction, including significant investments to strategically support the forestry sector.

One of those is the forest bioeconomy framework. In September 2017, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers launched the framework to make Canada a global leader in the use of forest biomass for advanced bioproducts and innovative solutions. The framework focuses on creating green jobs, enhancing supply and demand, and supporting innovation in the forestry sector.

We have also put forward the green construction through wood, GCWood, program. In September 2017, the government announced the GCWood program to encourage greater use of wood in construction projects in Canada. We want to catalyze a broader awareness of, and domestic capacity for, innovative tall wood buildings, timber bridges, and low-rise commercial wood buildings. Building with wood offers many benefits, including GHG emission reductions and opportunities for greater economic growth.

Another program that our government has put forward is the assistance package for the forest industry. In June 2017, the government announced its continued support for the softwood lumber industry in the form of an $867-million assistance package for the forestry industry, workers, and communities impacted by recent tariffs imposed unfairly by the United States.

We also put forward the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This framework, adopted in 2016, is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, which I know all of us here in the House believe in.

The framework's actions, supported by announcements in budget 2017, would enable Canada to meet or even exceed its target to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This is important for our children, especially my children. Under the framework, our government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

These actions include collaboration among federal, provincial, and territorial governments to encourage the increased use of wood products in construction, including through updated building codes. Natural Resources Canada received $39.8 million over four years through budget 2017 to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects, to promote the use of wood in construction, and to create new markets for sustainable Canadian products.

We have also been leaders on this side of the House, compared to a former government, to put in place tools to assess environmental impacts. We have committed to assessing the environmental impacts of construction projects. Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to the use of industry-recognized assessment tools for high environmental performance. These tools would help the department make informed decisions to estimate the environmental impact of construction materials and their use in building projects.

Any amendment made to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act must be made in accordance with Canada's free trade agreements and abide by the government's procurement principles of fairness, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity.

We have heard there are people who are afraid this may cost jobs. While I agree that sometimes we may fear the future when change happens, what I saw when I used to live in Quebec City was beautiful projects that actually increased the number of jobs in the forestry industry. For instance, in Neufchâtel, a neighbourhood where I lived in Quebec City when I was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, a soccer complex was built for young people and adults. This complex was entirely built of wood, a gigantic structure with gigantic beams, which were very thick and very solid. Some said that we should not build with wood, but incredibly enough, the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, showed leadership. Quebec City even built its new coliseum, or what some have sometimes called the “ice cube”, using an awful lot of wood.

This is a Canadian product and it is something we have a lot of here in Canada. It allows us to create more jobs, because construction projects can perhaps be cheaper and so more people can build homes or large-scale structures that will be as structurally sound as any we might find made of steel or concrete.

I had the opportunity of attending the committee for government public works and listening to testimony surrounding this bill. I was surprised to hear support coming not only from people in the forestry industry but also in the engineering trades. People said that we can use this material and demonstrate in Canada that we can build with our wood and then perhaps create markets overseas to show the building codes are just as strong.

We can make sure we build jobs here in our country. It is important to build jobs in many of the rural areas where the forestry products, the primary resources, are found, because there are also indigenous people who would like to work. If we can use more of these resources in a sustainable manner, use things that are renewable, it will be better for Mother Nature, the earth, and all of us and our children in the long term.

I am very proud to be here to offer my support to the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his bill and his leadership on this issue. I am very proud of the work that goes on in Winnipeg and Manitoba in support of the forestry industry. I know all my colleagues from Manitoba are also very supportive of the forestry industry.

Tapwe akwa khitwam hi hi.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am incredibly proud to be here today speaking to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). I want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for working so hard on the bill. I appreciate that he understands the importance of the forestry sector in the economy and in terms of environmental sustainability.

The bill would require the Government of Canada to give consideration to the use of wood products when building, maintaining, or repairing federally owned properties. Decisions as to which construction materials to use would take into account the cost of the different materials, balanced with the greenhouse gas footprint of the materials. After this assessment, the government could decide whether it was best to use wood or other materials.

The riding I represent has a long history in the forestry sector. We have moved through the boom and bust cycles and have become more environmentally sustainable and creative in the many uses of wood. The days of the many mill towns I used to represent have ended in our riding. We simply do not have the mills we used to. Secondary processing is happening in small community businesses.

Many people are frustrated as we watch raw logs floating on barges down the ocean. Once we processed them, and many of those good paying jobs stayed in our region. They are simply no longer there. The bill asks the government to recognize the many difficulties the forestry sector has faced over the past 20 years.

Great advances have been made in tall wood construction, and it is now possible to construct large, safe wood buildings. It can be done quickly and economically. When we build with wood products, we know that we lower GHG emissions and we sequester more carbon than we do with other products. This is important when we look at the GHG targets Canada has agreed to in the Paris Agreement.

The Government of Canada is the largest procurer in Canada. The federal government can give this sector a real boost by using this cutting-edge technology at home.

Forestry communities are largely small, rural, and often indigenous communities, like the many I represent. They work hard and know that forestry is key to their economic and social development. These communities have had to be incredibly flexible, and they have had to embrace massive changes very rapidly as the forestry industry has changed.

What I think is so important about the bill is that it means addressing the reality that wood does not currently enjoy even access to consideration in the market. Similar policies in British Columbia and Quebec have made real strides in correcting this trend. After over two decades of the Canadian forestry sector facing significant economic challenges, the response has been to come up with greater innovation and advances in technology that change and increase what can be done in building with wood. Here is the challenge, though: getting builders and those procuring building construction to consider wood as a structural material for part or all of these projects. That is why the bill is asking the federal government to take the lead in opening doors and opportunities for the forestry industry. This is very important to ridings like mine, which are still integrated with the forestry sector.

I believe David Foster, director of communications, Canadian Home Builders' Association, said it best:

We recently saw that with six-storey wood frame construction, which moved from a curiosity into something that is fully embraced by our industry. I know that there is huge interest in cross-laminated construction in particular. At every conference of our association that I go to, somebody is showing us amazing pictures of these buildings.

This is really important in the cycle from when an innovation is developed till when it is in full commercial application. From our point of view, that's a process of de-risking something, and often it takes partnerships. It takes government encouraging and facilitating that transfer.

It is so important that the government take a leadership role in de-risking in this area. We need to see these opportunities building. We know it is important for so many communities. This not about making wood more prominent than other areas. It is really about giving it an even playing field and allowing the sector to actually play in this way.

On May 16, I will be travelling to Port McNeill in my riding to celebrate the Inaugural Forestry Proud Day event. People from forestry companies, contractors, consultants, forestry educators, first nations, training organizers, local government, provincial government, and so many more will be there to celebrate the importance of this industry. It is a significant community event in our area.

Across my riding, be it the communities of Zeballos, Woss, Campbell River, Tahsis, Gold River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, and Powell River just to name a few, forestry has always been a part of the culture, the economy, and the community. It has had to change rapidly with the times.

I think of the program in Wass right now, a 12-week fundamentals in forestry program, with 12 students, that is going very well according to Pat English, manager of economic development for the Regional District of Mount Waddington. These programs are so incredibly important to small communities. They not only help retain young people in the community; they also help to attract young people to see the opportunities that are there. These programs really allow young people to stay in small communities where the industry is still alive.

It is so important that the government remember all sectors, that it remember that small communities are working hard every day to provide opportunities and maintain stability.

I am so happy to be here today to speak in support of the bill. It is time that we remember forestry communities and we provide those opportunities for them to move forward.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pride to rise today in support of Bill C-354, proposed by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.

I am pretty sure there are a few mountains in that part of Canada, and because I made a promise to a childhood friend, which I could not keep, I do want to congratulate Cassie Sharpe, who won a gold medal as a freestyle skier, whose aunt I went to school with in Winnipeg. I said I would say hi, and I could not find her. She was mobbed by everyone. I congratulate her.

Back to the bill, it is a bill that makes so much sense on so many levels. Besides being one of the most well-liked members in the House, my colleague is also a renowned natural historian, and the author of a dozen award-winning books on the natural history of British Columbia. The member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay was also named Biologist of the Year in 1996, and has served on the board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and worked with Bird Studies Canada coordinating surveys on the status of bird populations.

Anyone can see that the member's credentials are both impressive and credible. It is therefore not surprising that his private member's bill would propose and promote the use of a renewable resource, which we have in abundance, while at the same time, reduce our carbon footprint.

At a time in our planet's evolution when climate change is wreaking havoc on communities across the globe, while governments are struggling to meet their emissions targets and to make the shift towards more sustainable industries, this bill is a common-sense solution that will help Canada do more and do better to meet our own emissions reduction goals.

Canada is and always has been a land of forests. Around the world, we are renowned for our natural beauty and our natural resources. One can hardly find a picture of Canada without seeing majestic forests, except, of course, when looking at a beautiful picture of the Prairies.

The bounty from our forests has supported for centuries the first peoples of this land, the earliest settlers. It has helped build towns, and turned them into cities. It has built our railroads, and telegraph and telephone poles, and so much more, to connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Our forests have given us so much. They have allowed us to be a world leader in pulp and paper production, spurring development in northern and rural communities, providing jobs and livelihoods for generations of Canadians, and the raw material for the publishing industry for decades. Through it all, our forests continue to provide for us a way to commune with nature, to marvel at the magnificence and the diversity of life that we have been blessed with.

Bill C-354 simply proposes that the Government of Canada give consideration to the use of wood products when building, maintaining, or repairing federally owned properties. Decisions as to which construction materials to use would take into account the costs of the different materials balanced with the greenhouse gas footprint of the materials. After this assessment, the government could decide whether it is best to use wood or other materials.

Testimony before the natural resources committee demonstrated that wood does not currently enjoy even so much as access to consideration in the market, but that similar policies in British Columbia and Quebec have led to the realization that the situation could be and should be corrected.

In fact, France, Finland, and the Netherlands, along with more than 50 municipalities in British Columbia, have brought in similar policies. Great advances have been made in tall wood construction, and it is now possible to construct large, safe wood buildings quickly and economically. Building with wood produces lower greenhouse gas emissions and sequesters more carbon than with other products, and so can help Canada reach our greenhouse gas emission targets under the Paris Agreement.

Innovations and emerging technologies, like those that allow and encourage environmentally responsible and sustainable construction, will ensure the future health of the forestry sector. As the largest procurer in Canada, the federal government can play a constructive role by using this cutting-edge technology right here at home. If we can continue to build our prosperity by using materials growing in our own backyard, so to speak, and by doing so reduce harmful emissions to ensure the health of our planet, why would we not?

I would like to end by thanking my colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, for his fine work, and by urging all members to support Bill C-354, which represents a win-win-win for the forestry sector, for Canada, and, of course, for our planet.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking once again the members of the natural resources committee for their collegial work on Bill C-354, and the parliamentary secretary of natural resources and the parliamentary secretary of public works and government services for their co-operative approach.

I would also like to give a shout-out to Structurlam in Penticton. This company was really the inspiration of this bill for me. It, and very few other companies, stands at the forefront of the new way that we will be constructing buildings and other infrastructure in the future.

Engineered wood, mass timber construction, glulam beams, and cross-laminated timber panels will all soon be known as one of the commonest and best ways to create large buildings in the world, and Canada is a world leader in this technology. We are at a place now where government procurement can play a critical role in growing Canadian companies that use this technology, and Bill C-354 can encourage that role.

I would like to remind members that this bill was amended in committee to deal with some of the concerns raised in the second reading debate. I am especially thinking of the Conservatives here who, in this debate on third reading, seem to be debating the old version of the bill in which there was clear wording for “preference” and things like that. All of those issues have been cleared up with the amendment that we brought forward in committee.

Earlier, some were concerned that a preference for wood in infrastructure would expose us to international trade disputes or that it would distort the market, making it harder for the cement and steel industries to compete for government infrastructure. That is gone from this bill. This bill, as amended, deals with those concerns while keeping references to the environmental benefits of various structural materials. There is no mention of a preference for any structural material in the new bill. In fact, it simply sets out that:

the Minister shall consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.

We naturally heard strong support for the bill from the forest industry when studying the bill in committee. We also heard from the cement and steel industries, and both testified that they were confident they could meet those environmental considerations in the full life-cycle analysis. We also heard from the National Research Council that large buildings made with engineered wood are as safe as steel and concrete buildings when it comes to fire safety.

This bill will support the forest and construction industries and keep them at the head of their sectors as the world moves toward a new way of building.

We all know that the forest industry is facing headwinds in the form of unfair tariffs and a declining fibre supply. Engineered wood can support the industry in the face of these challenges, allowing Canadian wood to be sold into the U.S. without softwood tariffs, and the value-added benefits will create more good jobs for every piece of lumber that we produce. It will promote the construction of beautiful, environmentally friendly, and safe buildings.

In closing, I would like to once again thank all of those who have supported this bill as it moved through the House, and I urge all members to support it once again when it comes to a vote.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members



Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 23, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.