Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Prince George—Peace River for sharing his time with me.
It is my privilege to speak to Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act. This legislation would ensure continued world-class safety and security for Canada's offshore oil and gas, and nuclear energy industries. It would enhance regulation and ensure that development is done in a manner that is safe for Canadians and safe for our environment.
Our government has been very clear, taxpayers should not be liable in the highly unlikely event of an incident in either of these industries. It is the company that must be held liable. The bill would deliver on the promise made in the Speech from the Throne to enshrine the polluter pays principle into law. As well, it would fulfill our commitment to provide $1 billion in protection to Canadians by raising absolute liability limits in both these sectors. Absolute liability holds the company responsible regardless of fault.
Canada has an enormous wealth of natural resources that generate significant economic benefits for Canadians. It is not an exaggeration to say that the resource sector is the cornerstone of Canada's economy. Natural resources account for nearly 20% of our gross domestic product, and 50% of our exports.
In fact, the energy, mining and forestry industries provide over $30 billion a year in revenue to governments, money that supports critical social programs such as health care and education. Furthermore, 1.8 million Canadians currently work in the natural resource sectors or in industries that service these sectors. Put another way, one in 10 Canadians work directly or indirectly for the natural resources sector.
Natural resource jobs are in every part of Canada from coast to coast to coast. Today, more than 30,000 aboriginal people work in energy, mining and forestry jobs throughout Canada, making the natural resources sector the largest private sector employer of aboriginal people.
There is true potential for massive investments in resource sectors in every region across Canada. It is estimated that hundreds of major resource projects are currently under way in Canada or planned over the next 10 years, worth approximately $650 billion in investment.
These investments will generate enormous economic growth and create hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs in communities across Canada. Responsible resource development achieves the right balance to unleash the potential of our resource sectors to create high-value jobs across Canada while strengthening safety and environmental protection.
The legislation before us today will strengthen the growth of Canada's energy sector, and will protect Canadians and the environment. With respect to Canada's booming offshore oil and gas industry, the economy of Atlantic Canada has been truly transformed.
Over the past 15 years, Nova Scotia offshore oil and gas production has generated over $2.4 billion in government revenues and annually supports some 750 jobs. At the same time, Newfoundland and Labrador production has generated over $9.2 billion in government revenues and provides over 12,800 direct and indirect jobs annually.
Every stage of offshore petroleum activity, from exploration to production, is subject to strict regulations and oversight by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
Canada's environmental record is strong, and we are making it stronger by focusing on what matters to Canadians: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Our government manages Canada's offshore oil and gas resources jointly with the provinces. We worked in collaboration with Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to develop these changes.
Bill C-22 would hold companies to account in the case of an incident. By fulfilling our promise in the Speech from the Throne and enshrining the polluter pays principle into law, we are ensuring the continued success of offshore development.
In the Atlantic offshore we are increasing absolute liability from $30 million to $1 billion. We are also increasing the offshore absolute liability in the Arctic from $40 million to $1 billion. This means that companies are responsible for damages up to that amount, regardless of whether they are at fault for the incident. As is currently the case, we would continue to maintain unlimited liability where fault or negligence is proven.
Additionally, companies would need to demonstrate that they have $1 billion in available financial capacity. The bill would make companies responsible for their product and require them to pay for any damage caused. The bill would also strengthen the transparency of our safety regime by giving the public access to emergency planning, environmental plans and other documents filed with regulators. We feel strongly that the public deserves access to this important information and we will make sure that they have it.
Through our government's actions, oil and gas companies operating in the Atlantic and Arctic offshore would be subjected to the highest safety and liability standards in the world.
As my colleagues have mentioned, the energy safety and security act would also strengthen Canada's system for nuclear liability. It places Canada in line with internationally accepted compensation levels and significantly increases the operator's absolute liability for civil damages from $75 million to $1 billion. This increase brings Canada in line with modern western nuclear power generating countries.
This is an important aspect for Canadians because they want to be assured that nuclear power generated in Canada is done safely. Of course, the safety and security of this sector is paramount to the bill and I am proud that we are taking steps to update the liability limits for nuclear.
It is unfortunate that the NDP continues to oppose thousands of jobs in the nuclear sector and the non-emitting electricity generated by nuclear power. I do not need to remind Canadians of the importance of our energy sector. Most willingly acknowledge the huge role that it plays in our national economy and many Canadians would even suggest Canada is blessed with an abundance of resources. The question is why any responsible party would attempt to minimize or negate the importance of one of the most important players in the energy sector, the nuclear industry, as it relates to the overall economic well-being of Canada.
While other parties refuse to support hard-working Canadians or the creation of high-paying jobs across the energy sector, our government is moving forward to ensure that we have world-class safety standards for the benefit of all Canadians, which will in turn lead to even better economic opportunities for all.
In conclusion, the energy safety and security act offers Canada a solid, modern framework to regulate the offshore and nuclear liability systems in Canada for decades to come. Despite the divisive nature of the debate against Canada's development of our various natural resources, the truth that many Canadians realize is that economic prosperity and environmental protection can both be achieved.
Canadians trust our government to grow the economy, create jobs and responsibly develop Canada's resources.