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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans



Thursday, November 28, 2013

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]



     I call this meeting to order.
    I want to thank our guests for being here with us today.
     Mr. King, I appreciate your coming before us, along with your staff, to talk about the supplementary estimates (B). I guess you're quite familiar with the procedure here.
    I'll turn it right over to you, Mr. King. Perhaps you could introduce your associates. I know your financial officer is going to make a brief presentation as well.
    The floor is yours, sir.
    Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to appear today to discuss the DFO's supplementary estimates.
    Almost everyone is pretty well known to the committee here, but I'll make introductions for the benefit of the few new members we have.
    We have the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Marc Grégoire—Marc will be taking questions on all coast guard issues this afternoon; associate deputy minister at fisheries and oceans, David Bevan; newly minted senior assistant deputy minister, ecosystems and fisheries management, Kevin Stringer; assistant deputy minister, ecosystems and fisheries management operations, Trevor Swerdfager; our acting chief financial officer, Denis Bombardier; and our acting assistant deputy minister, science, Dave Gillis.


    Mr. Chair, before I begin, allow me to mention that our department is still in mourning after the tragic crash of helicopter 364, assigned to CCGS Amundsen in the Arctic in September. This accident caused the loss of Captain Marc Thibault, the helicopter pilot, Mr. Daniel Dubé, and Mr. Klaus Hochheim, a University of Manitoba scientist working on the ArcticNet project. I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to offer our condolences to the families.


    Mr. Chair, the department's supplementary estimates are before the committee. Our department received almost $1.669 billion in main estimates for 2013-14. Our supplementary estimates total almost $118.8 million. If approved by the committee and then by Parliament, this would bring our total 2013-14 appropriation to approximately $1.788 billion.
    As you mentioned, and as was agreed with the committee clerk, l'm just going to ask our chief financial officer, Denis Bombardier, to present only the highlights of our supplementary estimates. Then we'll look forward to answering questions on supplementary estimates or any other questions of interest to the committee.


    Denis, you have the floor.


    I've prepared a short deck, so I'll jump right in.
    I'll go to page 2. Today's goal, as our deputy minister mentioned, is to provide committee members with the key changes to our spending authorities.
     As committee members will know, the supplementary estimates serve two main purposes. The first one is to seek authority from Parliament to revise the department's spending levels. The second one is to provide Parliament with additional information on changes in the estimated expenditures.
    As members are aware, there are three supplementary estimates exercises for this fiscal year, supplementary estimates (A), (B), and (C).
     The department did not have any requests under supplementary estimates (A). Supplementary estimates (B) were tabled in Parliament on November 7, and supplementary estimates (C) will be tabled in February 2014.
    I will go to page 3.



    This page contains an overview of the initial position of the department, from the main estimates up to the votes that are anticipated at this point.
    The department is submitting 29 positions altogether for approval, for a total of $118,797 million, which includes statutory appropriations. I will go over the table in order to give you a better idea of where we came from and where we are going.
    On the left, there are the votes: vote 1, vote 5 and vote 10. A vote summarizes the financial needs of a department in specific expenditure categories. For instance, under vote 1, you have operating expenditures, that is to say, mainly salaries and operating expenses.
    Vote 1 of the main estimates totals $1,119 billion. To that, we add the carry-over from the budget of $56.7 million. Then, you have supplementary estimates (B), which we are discussing today, of $63 million. This brings us to a total of $1.239 billion.
    Under vote 5, capital expenditures, for instance for the acquisition of buildings, the main estimates total $360 million. To that, we add the carry-over of $54.5 million. Afterwards, there are the supplementary estimates (B) for $24.5 million, for a total of $439 million.
     Finally, there is vote 10, grants and contributions. There are $59 million allocated to that item in the main estimates. To this is added $29.2 million in the supplementary estimates (B), for a total of $88.3 million.
    The total before the statutory appropriations is $1.767 billion. The overall total, including statutory appropriations, is $1.898 billion.
    Let us now have a look at page 4.
    The amount in this year's supplementary estimates, set out in the table on page 3, may be considered a net amount. This amount has three major components.
    The total request adds up to a gross amount of $122,322,659.
    From that is deducted a sum of $6,210,318, which represents funds that were already frozen in connection with the cuts announced in Budget 2013. This $6-million amount is made up of two sub-elements, the first being the targeted review of expenditures announced in Budget 2013. That was the first year that component was reduced. The total cut for this year is $3.994 million. The second sub-element from the $6-million amount is the department's contribution to reducing travel expenses. That component was also announced in the 2013 budget. All of the departments have to contribute to that effort. The total amount requested was $42.7 million. The contribution of the department in that regard is $2.3 million.
    The third amount is made up of funds transfers between votes as well as between departments. All of these transfers represent a net amount of $788,000. Since neither the department nor the minister are authorized to transfer amounts from one vote to another, those transfers must absolutely be approved in this fiscal year.
    If we deduct the $6.2 million from the $122.3 million and then add the $788,000, we obtain the sum of $116.9 million, which is found in our table on page 3.
    I will now move on to page 5. It provides you with an overview of the main elements in supplementary estimates (B).
    The first of these elements is an amount of $46.1 million for the removal of fuel and other pollutants present on the Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski. This is an old American warship which sank in 1946 in Grenville Channel off the coast of British Columbia.
    The second amount of $31.9 million is for the renewal of the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative. Those funds were announced in the federal 2013 budget. $21 million is allocated to the Pacific Initiative and $10.9 million to the Atlantic program. Funding for these two programs was initiated in 2007-2008. The department obtained funding for five years, which was renewed in 2012 for one year, and in 2013 for one more year.
    The third amount of $20.5 million is to be used to undertake the integrated engineering phases for three scientific vessels, and one oceanographic Canadian Coast Guard vessel. The three scientific vessels will cost $244 million in total, which is included in the financial framework. As for the oceanographic vessel, it represents an amount of $144 million, which is also reported in the financial framework.
    The next amount of $7.3 million is for the improvement of the prevention, preparation and intervention system in case of hydrocarbon leaks from ships. This is a horizontal item, which is to say that several departments are involved. In this particular case, Environment Canada and Transport Canada are involved and receive funds. This program is the first phase of the implementation of the system. Other phases will follow over the next few years.
    The next amount of $4.4 million is for the activities involved in protecting the Canadian Great Lakes against the invasion of the Asian carp. This item had been announced in the 2012 budget. The department obtained funding for five years. That includes initiatives such as prevention, intervention and control of the Asian carp.
    The following amount of $4 million is allocated to the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program. That amount was also announced in the 2013 federal budget. The department obtained $10 million over 2 years, i.e. $4 million this year and $6 million next year. The purpose of this program is to provide support to local projects so as to improve the conservation of recreational fisheries in the country.
    The next amount of $2.6 million goes to support the conservation measures for marine ecosystems, an initiative that is better known as Health of the Oceans. That amount was also announced in the federal 2013 budget, and it is also a horizontal item. This year, Environment Canada also obtained funds. The department was granted $23 million over 5 years for that program, which was launched in 2007. It was renewed for one year in Budget 2012 and for one more year in Budget 2013.
    The following item may be described as recurring. Every year, we have access to these funds through supplementary estimates (B). This is an amount of $2 million from intellectual property royalties. The department has access to revenue that was generated the previous year, for such things as navigation charts or hydrographic publications.
    The next amount of $1.5 million is for planning the acquisition phase for small ships, and search and rescue vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard. The total amount in the financial framework is $487.7 million, and will be used for the acquisition of a maximum of 21 ships. Consequently, 10 search and rescue vessels, and 11 small ships which may be used for scientific pursuits, for instance.
    The last item on this page is $1.4 million for the definition phase of the helicopter fleet renewal project. That amount will be used to acquire up to 24 helicopters for the Canadian Coast Guard.
    Afterwards, appendix A provides details on the elements I have just discussed and provides explanations on the transfers I spoke to a little earlier in my presentation.
    I am available to answer your questions. Thank you.



     Thank you very much.
    We'll go right into questions now.
    Starting off the seven-minute round will be Mr. Kamp.
    Thank you, gentlemen, for appearing today. It seems like a while since we've had an all-male cast from Fisheries and Oceans coming to our committee, but you're welcome anyway.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Randy Kamp: If I may, I'd like to begin by asking maybe three questions of Commissioner Grégoire.
    One of the most significant numbers in the supplementary (B)s is the $46.1 million for the Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski operation. I'm just wondering if you can tell the committee a little more about that operation.
     It was said that it's a ship that sank in 1946, which was a while ago, so why are we now, in 2013-14, addressing this situation? How did we determine that what we need to do costs $46.1 million? I guess that's a question, and then perhaps you can tell us what stage we're at in the operation to do this.
    In fact, this is quite a large project for the coast guard. This ship, as you mentioned, sank in 1956, so that is 67 years ago. The question is, why now? Why are we looking after it now?
    The coast guard became aware of some leakage from the ship back in 2003. The first time, we hired specialized divers, who went down and plugged the holes, so to speak—there were rivets coming out—with epoxy, and that was fine.
    Since 2003 we have had increased surveillance and monitoring by the first nations in the environment, especially the Gitga'at, who live in Hartley Bay, who have consistently told us when there were further leaks. Back in 2011-12, there were further leaks. In 2012 alone, we had to go in three times, and we spent about half a million—$550,000—just to close those leaks.
    We hired a specialized salvage company to assess the hull earlier in 2013, and they gave us an assessment in March that said basically any time soon you could see a catastrophic failure, which would lead to a major environmental spill in the area of bunker C, which is this very nasty, dark black tar-like roof tar that was used at that time to make the engine work. We built a case following that to get down there to get the oil out of this vessel. The government gave us the money and we're going to access the money through supplementary estimates (B).
    Your next question was why the $46 million. This is the budget that we had established at the beginning. There are a number of contingencies as part of that amount. I do not think, at this point in time, we will need the whole amount. In fact, I think we should be around $30 million—not likely above this, but it could be a bit. We still have a lot to do to demobilize.
    Your next question was when the operation was going to end. We are now getting towards the end. The diving started at the end of October. We started to pump oil. The first weeks of diving were to prepare the site to assess exactly the quantity of bunker C in the hull. There are many tanks and the ship is upside down on a bank in Grenville Channel. It is a very difficult area to get to and a very difficult place to dive because of the heavy currents due to the tide.
    We assessed back then that we could have anywhere from 20 tonnes to over 100 tonnes of bunker C. As of this morning, we're at 37 tonnes of bunker C, which is a significant amount when you think that people report a spoonful or one-tenth of a litre to the coast guard. That's 37,000 litres of bunker C we collected, plus we have collected over 210,000 litres of oily water. We're at the point now where we're just recirculating water in the tank to make sure it's pretty clean. We have had divers in the last couple of days who have been cutting holes in the hull; they've been going in and really vacuuming the walls in the engine rooms. We're really making sure that we're cleaning it as much as we can.
    By the middle of next week we hope to have finished collecting the oil, and then we will start demobilizing—dismantling, basically—the temporary installation that we have done around the Zalinski and return it to a normal state. But it's a large operation, and we're thankful to the government for that money to do it.


    When I was in Prince Rupert with the minister a while back, we had the chance to meet with Admiral Girouard, who is your new assistant commissioner for the western region. He was pretty gung-ho about what he called the incident command system. Can you tell us what that is and how the experience with this—if it's a new experience—might help us in the future?
     Indeed it will. You may recall that last March 2013, the Minister of Transport at the time, Denis Lebel, announced that the coast guard would be implementing the incident command system to reinforce our capacity to deal with crises, both environmental response crises and other kinds of crises.
    We started the training, and this is the first occasion we have to test it. I will remind people that implementing ICS is one of the conditions from B.C. to build a world-class regime for environmental response. Basically the way we ran this with the incident command post in Prince Rupert is that Roger was our incident commander there, which means that the coast guard was the lead for the whole operation. Rather than conducting this operation in siloes with the other parties, we worked with everybody together in the same room. We had the coast guard, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, the local first nations, the Gitga'at and the Gitxaala, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, Mammoet Salvage America, Environment Canada, and the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation. All of those people worked together in the same room. They collectively looked at all the issues, and then the incident commander made the final decision.


    Thank you very much.
    Thank you.
    Go ahead, Mr. Donnelly.
     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Welcome to all the DFO officials. Thank you for being with us at committee here to answer our questions.
    Commissioner, I'd like to follow up with a question to you. Since the closure of the Kitsilano coast guard station, I've heard from local mariners that the transition has been anything but smooth sailing. With the increased use of the hovercraft from Burrard Inlet, including additional travel time and greater expense to operate than the vessels used at Kitsilano station, I have to wonder how much money the government is actually saving with this closure.
    In November, several boats near False Creek were destroyed in a wind storm. Thankfully, no one was hurt. If the Kitsilano base had still been open, could these shipwrecks and the resulting pollution have been prevented? I understand Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services were frustrated watching from shore this property damage occur in front of their eyes.
    In April a man tragically died of a heart attack while aboard a freighter that was literally within sight of the former Kitsilano coast guard station. This was a tragedy. It also raised serious concerns about the wisdom of closing Kitsilano station and the realities of increased response times. Again, local paramedics used the strategically located Kitsilano dock for the rescue but were frustrated that coast guard officials took longer in the rescue than if the station had been open.
    Given that the Kitsilano station was the busiest coast guard station in Canada and that no proper risk analysis was done before its closure, I'm not surprised that we continue to learn of incidents that may have gone differently had the government not put public safety at risk by closing this station. Although the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans chastised me for criticizing this closure, I believe it is my duty to continue raising these issues and holding the government to account.
    My question today is about the estimated net savings of the $700,000 from this closure. What sort of unexpected costs or complications have arisen since the closure, and how have these costs changed the $700,000 net saving figure, or has this changed?
    It hasn't changed, but I'm glad to see that in your opening remarks you now acknowledge that the system is working. It's great to hear that from you, Mr. Donnelly.
    The savings, the net savings that I mentioned last time we testified here, are $700,000 a year. They are what they are: net savings. They do include an increased cost of operation for the Sea Island base in Richmond and they do include the operation of an inshore rescue boat station at Discovery Island, a seasonal one, and they also include an increased grant to the RCMSAR of $100,000 per year, which they use to increase their training and their stance in the Port of Vancouver.
     Thank you, Mr. Grégoire.
    I notice in the supplementary estimates before us today there are no new costs associated with a response to Justice Cohen's judicial inquiry and his 75 recommendations to protect Fraser River sockeye.
    One of his key recommendations was that DFO create a new position in the Pacific region at the associate regional director general level with the responsibility for developing and implementing the wild salmon policy.
    Has this or will this position be created?
    The final report of the commission is obviously rich in details, many recommendations, and the department is continuing, as we make operational policy or program decisions, to bring as much of the Cohen analysis into our day-to-day operations as we can.
    We haven't gotten into a situation where we are responding recommendation by recommendation, but on that specific recommendation, we believe that with the construct we have in the Pacific region right now, we can actually accomplish the same thing. So we're not contemplating adding that position at the present time.
    Just to follow up, have you acted on any of the recommendations?
    I don't have an exhaustive list with me, but there are a dozen I could provide the committee with at some point where we are continuing to either do what we've done in response to the recommendation or modify our activities to better reflect the recommendations. We continue to spend a fair amount of money on salmon in the Pacific region, $65 million a year and $20 million on sockeye, including $5 million on science.
    I mention that because the science strategy we have had in place for a number of years to provide the information we actually need to manage the Fraser River sockeye stock is undergoing a review through our assistant deputy minister of science, to take in and look at what was in the final report and determine the degree to which we should change our plans and priorities to get at that analysis.
    We're responding in our day-to-day activities the best we can across the breadth of the recommendations.


    Thank you, Mr. King.
    If you could provide the committee with that in writing, those 12 recommendations you say the department has acted on, I would appreciate that.
    This summer we learned about internal government audits that showed the coast guard's capacity to monitor in response to a marine oil spill is severely lacking. Equipment is outdated and the coast guard lacks funds to properly life cycle its equipment.
    This is extremely concerning to British Columbians, given this government's desire to increase tanker traffic on B.C.'s coast.
    The estimates show a $7.3 million appropriation to improve oil spill response capacity. Can you please provide details to the committee on any progress made on these audit recommendations and how this $7.3 million will be spent?
    First of all, this amount of money goes mainly to science. so I'll have my colleague, David, give his explanation to you about what he's going to do with his part of the money.
    Our part of this is to improve the aids to navigation. It's for prevention. This is used to improve the aids to navigation in the Douglas Channel to Kitimat. For this year we are in the phase of analysis and planning for new aids. In the coming two to three years, we will be installing new ways of navigation in that channel.
    Maybe Dave can speak to the science portion.
    Yes, there is a substantial part of that total that is going to science activities on the west coast generally, and specifically in the Douglas Channel area.
    I'll mention three main components.
    We're doing research to better understand the fate and behaviour of products that might be spilled into the environment, were there to be such an event, so we'll be in a better position to provide advice to our colleague responders in the coast guard as to what the appropriate approach to deal with that situation would be. That's one important element of our work.
    A second important element is that in order to again inform other questions related to spill response, it's important to have a good tool to help predict where a spill may move, where something in the environment may distribute itself to. In that regard, we're working with colleagues at Environment Canada to improve our oceanographic modelling in that area, and to be able to couple those movements of water with the atmospheric conditions, the weather conditions, if you wish, to provide a better picture, a more predictive picture, if I may, of where responders should be looking toward in terms of a response.
    The third element is quite a large element: to better understand what resources and ocean uses, aquatic area uses, are in that area and would be in the path and need to be managed in a spill situation. So we have a component of our science program to help us better understand what the resource inventory in that area is. A component of that would be looking at ocean uses and uses of certain spaces. This is important information that would need to go to spill responders in order to better equip them to deal with the questions they have.
    Thank you very much.
    Thanks, Mr. Donnelly.
    Mr. Sopuck.
    I have a couple of questions about the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program and the new Fisheries Act.
    Under the new Fisheries Act, partnerships enabled the minister to make agreements. So is the $10 million recreational fisheries conservation partnership program an outcome of the changes to the Fisheries Act?


    It's an element; it's one of the consequences of the new legislation. We wouldn't have had the explicit authority to do this in the previous legislation, but now we do. It's turned out to be a little bit of a whirlwind of activity.
    It's a two-year pilot project, as you know. We've had a very good start to our first year. We reckon that in the 2013-14 part of the program we have now distributed about $3.6 million, but we've also agreed to another $2 million that won't be expended until next year, because some of them were two-year projects but grosso modo we're finding right now that nationally we're levering federal investments two dollars to one.
    Mr. Robert Sopuck: Excellent.
    Mr. Matthew King: So for every dollar we put in, we're getting a dollar back; in British Columbia for every dollar we put in, we're getting $1.40 back. We have a total of 98 projects on the go right now, and I think it is actually a good example of—
    The beauty of it is, it's direct fisheries and aquatic ecosystem habitat improvement, so all the dollars are hitting the ground.
    You said there were 98 proposals accepted in the first round. Were they distributed across the country?
    I have a bit of a breakdown, if you find that interesting. In terms of accepted projects, we had 28 in British Columbia, 24 in the DFO central and arctic region, 19 in Quebec, 21 in the gulf, 6 in the Maritimes, and one in Newfoundland.
    About 18, though, right?
    Yes, it would have been—
    That's in the central arctic region?
    The central Arctic would be the entire—
    Oh, I see. I'm not familiar with it.
    So what types of projects were funded under the RFCPP?
    We've had a very wide variety.
    Kevin, do you want to provide some examples for us?
    It really is on-the-ground work. We talk about partnerships. It really is a down payment on those partnerships. The whole idea of section 4 of the Fisheries Act amendments is to make sure.... The reality is, there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians in these watershed groups who are passionate about fisheries' protection, who are working on removing barriers to fisheries, who are cleaning debris, who are fixing culverts, who are doing those types of projects, and our job is to align our work with their work. So those are the types of projects.
    We really thought it through in terms of what types of projects. The average project is about $100,000. We wanted to go fairly small with the projects so that we have as much partnership as possible. We had a maximum of $250,000, so it really is local watershed, conservation, angling groups—partnering with them, with their priorities in the communities. As the deputy says, it's also stacking roles to enhance those partnerships with others.
     For a pilot project I think it has been remarkably successful, and I'd like to take this opportunity to commend the department on its ability to handle a program that was rolled out extremely quickly. If you could convey my congratulations to the staff who were directly involved, they did a marvellous job.
    In terms of the habitat provisions of the Fisheries Act, how do the habitat protection provisions of the new Fisheries Act compare with the habitat protection provisions of the previous act?
    There was section 35 in the previous version of the act, which basically said that you can't harmfully alter, disrupt, or destroy fish habitat with any project. What it now says is that you can't cause serious harm to fish “that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery”.
    Then “serious harm” is defined, and “serious harm” is defined as “the death of fish or any permanent alteration to, or destruction of, fish habitat”. So habitat remains protected.
    The bar is a little different from “harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction” to “permanent alteration” or “destruction”, but it's also linked to ongoing productivity of the fishery. Section 6 basically says that here are the factors the minister must take into account. The idea is that with respect to any project, the impact of the ongoing productivity of the fishery on the habitat is where we will determine whether it's permanent alteration or destruction.
    Habitat continues to be in the act. Habitat continues to be protected. There are other elements, such as aquatic invasive species and others that we're now protecting as well that we weren't before, but habitat is still in there.


    I strongly support the emphasis on fish production. Some people didn't like our changes to the Fisheries Act, but fancy that, we have a Fisheries Act that's actually about fish, which I find to be really good.
    Regarding standards, I understand that standard settings are allowed now. I gather that standards were not enabled under the old act. For example, let's say a forestry development was going in and there are a number of spawning streams. Can you now set standards for the stream crossings so that they are constructed in a manner to allow fish to pass under the road?
    Maybe I can start that off, and, Kevin, you can fill in some details as we go, because that's an interesting question.
    We actually started to look at this program back in 2002-03, when we found, as a department, we were doing 12,000 to 12,500 environmental assessments a year. Obviously that wasn't sustainable; we didn't have the people to do that.
    We started out using an instrument called operational statements. Now, there was no reference to operational statements in the legislation at the time, but we piloted them and wanted to see what the impact would be. We used them for things like culverts. We certainly used them for irrigation of drainage ditches on farms. We used them for anything that was really repeatable and predictable. We simply posted the requirements the department needed to help an individual—and usually they were individuals—to either avoid or mitigate impacts on fish habitat.
    That sort of evolved over time. What you're seeing in the new legislation, the use of standards, which won't be prescribed in regulations, really, in my view, amounts to the next step. Quite frankly, we will see the potential in the years to come for the Minister of Fisheries to actually, through regulation, establish standards for things like water flow and that sort of thing. Here we would be publishing what we think are the required steps to ensure that there is no impact, or minimal impact, on fisheries habitat. So that is a new element to the act.
    Thank you.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. MacAulay.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    Would it be fair to say that this new Fisheries Act protects certain fish in certain areas where there are people? Would that be a fair assessment?
    First of all, I should have welcomed you here. I slipped here. We're so pleased...but I'm so used to seeing the fisheries crew that you're kind of like family—
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Lawrence MacAulay: A troublesome family.
    I have read statements recently that have made an effort to segment fisheries, to say that this type of fishery will be protected and that type of fishery won't. I have to say that sometimes I find it difficult to follow the argument.
    The act for the first time actually has pretty clear definitions of what constitutes a commercial, a recreational, or an aboriginal fishery. The act also says that fisheries that support the three fisheries—the CRA fisheries, if I can use that term—also come under the protection of the act, as does the habitat that supports fisheries.
    It's almost all the fish.
     The “almost” part is the concern.
    We put out a policy statement a month to two months ago—I'm sorry I don't have the exact date in front of me—where we actually went further and began to clarify and define more sharply what that would mean. In the policy statement, I believe on page 8, we've said that any fishery that is regulated by the federal government or the provincial government is now included. We've also said that fisheries that are relied upon by aboriginal peoples for food, ceremonial, and social purposes are also included. The reality is that very few fisheries indeed will fall outside the act.
    Thank you very much.
    There have been a lot of cuts in DFO over the last couple of years. I wonder if you could give the committee just a bit of a rundown on what cuts have taken place, what cuts we can expect to see, and what effect they will have over the next couple of years.
    Also, in that explanation, could you refer to the ELA scientists at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg who were recently declared surplus? What were their positions? Will they be let go? Were they not needed in the first place?


    I'll take a shot at that, Mr. Chairman.
    In budgets 2011, 2012, and 2013, as was the case with every federal department, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was obliged to participate in this broader deficit reduction goal, and we've done that. In 2011-12, under the auspices of the strategic review, we actually reduced our expenditures by about $57 million. That ramped up, and we ramped up and completed that reduction by the end of this year. By 2013-14, we will have made the strategic review reduction.
    In the strategic operating review that was in budget 2012, again, we had a three-year ramp-up period to meet a target, and we did. We'll meet that in 2014-15. That will be $79.3 million.
    What you're doing is meeting the direction that you're given by government. What I would like to have from you is what impact it has on the department, and what impact this my very short time here.
    I was going to get there. I have one more round of reductions to talk about.
    Fisheries and Oceans and the Canada Revenue Agency were also asked to come back and do a targeted review—this was announced in last year's budget—and that will ramp up to $33 million.
    So to answer your question, in their entirety, that results in a reduction of about $170 million, which is about slightly less than 10% of our base. Along with that came a 10% reduction in the number of people who work at DFO, remembering, though, that both the budget and the number of people swelled, as they did in every other department between 2006 and 2009.
    We are confident in the reductions made to date that we have done everything we can possibly do to minimize the impact on services to Canadians. I believe that in the fullness of time we'll be able to demonstrate that. We've used all kinds of initiatives to get to the targets we had to get to. The coast guard was responsible for about 45% of that total reduction, and the balance came from DFO.
    In the DFO case, we've done an awful lot of work to consolidate back offices. We've made some adjustments to reflect differing policy priorities. We've taken an awfully close look at our internal services, which, in comparison to some departments, had been trending upward. As the deputy minister and the accounting officer, I believe I'm at a point now where I can still say that I can meet and fulfill my commitment to Canadians, as expressed through the budget and through the Speech from the Throne and other documents, with the resources I have. That being said, it's never an easy thing to reduce. We're bureaucrats; we're good at adding.
    That's the part I want to get to: what effect does it have with the scientists themselves in Winnipeg? Can you refer to that?
    I'll ask David to help me out a little bit on ELA. ELA, the Experimental Lakes Area, was actually a very good example of the types of programs you have to look at when circumstances call for a reduction in expenditures. I don't think the government or the department ever said the work ELA has done over the years was not useful and not helpful, but relative to other science programs, it was less directly applicable to the day-to-day work at DFO.
    That being said, the department and certainly my previous minister, and my minister now too, I believe, have always recognized the work it's done. We're now coming towards the tail end of very intensive three-way negotiations with the Institute for Sustainable Development and the Province of Ontario, and we're confident that ELA will emerge slightly differently but will continue the work it's done.
    If you want a bit more information, I'd be happy to ask David to fill in the blanks a little bit.
    I hope you're right, that's all.
    I think I am.
    I'm very concerned, and many people involved in the fisheries are very concerned, that you're not right. You can only implement what you're told.
    Briefly, Mr. Gillis, please.
    Your time is done Mr. MacAulay. I just asked Mr. Gillis to be very brief.


    Very good.
    Very briefly, to add to what the deputy said and to clarify a point, the employees at ELA have been affected—not surplused, I expect. It's been some time, and you'll appreciate that the process around this, where we're dealing with individuals, is both highly prescribed and the details are somewhat protected, for reasons that you'll probably understand. We do expect that their status is going to be addressed very shortly.
    You asked about the roles. The roles were various, and they were all of the roles that would be associated with operating a field camp of the type that ELA was when we operated it. Some of those individuals, I expect—and it's already happened in several cases—will find other posts in our science system to which they are suited. How many of them will land there we will see in due course. I believe it will be a fair number of them.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Gillis.
    We'll do a five-minute round now.
    Mr. Chisholm, start off.
    Welcome to the officials here today.
    We have lots of questions and not a lot of time. I want to follow up a little bit. You have gone through some significant changes over the past number of years, not just with the latest legislative changes and downsizing, but with the challenge to fulfill your mandate.
    I understand that you've changed your organization quite a bit—the responsibilities within—in terms of where you're servicing various places. I speak particularly about the north.
    I understand that in the western Arctic, Yellowknife, for example, some of those offices have been cut and the staff have been withdrawn or reassigned elsewhere. Many of those services, as they relate to habitat management, for example, are coming out of Burlington. I wondered if you could talk a little bit about that.
    I was up there in July, and there is some concern being felt about not having the DFO expertise on the ground there, that it's going to be delivered out of Burlington, and the loss of that local knowledge, and so on. I wonder if you could speak to that.
    We did redesign the way we handle the fisheries protection program, as we went from a habitat program that was essentially looking out for habitat for habitat's sake and involving huge numbers of referrals that we were not finding to be sustainable or that were not relevant to protecting fisheries. As we moved from that model to the other model, we also looked at changing our process to move towards standards, towards guidelines, to inform proponents, and to centralize our offices from 69 to 15.
    I think Kevin can give more detail on the changes. The program redesign did allow us then to centralize and to have a different approach to the enforcement and to the provision of guidance to the proponents. We don't believe we need to be everywhere all across the country when we can use other tools to reach people and to provide the services.
    Before Kevin jumps in there, I appreciate that organizational stuff, but I'm thinking specifically about the north and the specific characteristics and nature of it, the co-management boards, the subsistence fisheries, and all of that. You're going to try to deal with that, provide the support for that, from Burlington?
    I think there are going to be people on the ground to deal with the first nations obligations. They may not be the same types of people as in the past, but there will be people to meet our obligations under all of that.
    They won't be scientists?
    I would say David's outlines are.... We have consolidated, and I think the numbers actually are from 63 to 16 offices. I would add the issue around partnership. The idea is that we wanted to bump up the partnership, work with local people, and consolidate our decision-making and our people in a few areas.
    When we had 63 offices, including in the north, and I'll come to that in a moment—


     Kevin, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to interrupt.
    I understand where you're going. What you're saying is that you're going to try to partner with people on the ground in order to provide that.
    I'm going to have to ask you one other question to go with this. That's another example of how things have been shifting. I understand, for example, that the justice department in Vancouver was providing support for aboriginal negotiations and other support for the fishery in Vancouver. That now has, in effect, been dismantled, or that mandate is no longer there. Those legal services are now going to be drawn out of Ottawa. I'm thinking, for example, of people who decide, “Well, to hell with it all, we're going fishing; we're going to put a net in the lake or in the river. We have rights, too.” On a Friday afternoon at 4 o'clock in Vancouver you can't get anybody. That was a scenario that was raised to me.
    I'm asking you to talk about that, please.
    I hear you. I'll quickly finalize what I was talking about.
    The exception to the consolidation is the north, where we've maintained our offices where they were. There is a little bit of a reduction, but on the number of offices in the north, we still have staff in Iqaluit, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, and Inuvik. They may have moved someone to Yellowknife, but it's not a significant consolidation.
    You don't have any scientists in Yellowknife.
    Thank you, Mr. Chisholm.
    I don't think we've had scientists in the north.
    I'll let the deputy speak to this.
    Very quickly, Mr. King.
    On the justice issue, we've had a group of I believe eight or nine lawyers in our Pacific region office for the better part of a decade. It was one of those things that was started as a pilot, and you can see why it would have been attractive. I think it might have been there for a dozen years or so.
    There were some good parts about that, and you've identified some good parts. There were some less good parts about that, too, in that frequently we would have different advice coming from all these justice lawyers from the Pacific region versus the head of our legal services here. The reduction of that complement was done in concert with DOJ, itself meeting its own obligations.
    To be honest and frank, it was always a little bit of a source of contention within the department. I can absolutely tell you that the head of legal services in NCR now is more than capable of providing the legal advice the department needs.
    Thanks, Mr. King.
    Mr. Kerr.
    You were talking about the invasive species, and you named a particular one, but I'd like a sense of how it's been going in recent years and what kinds of concerns there are. You hear a lot of American reaction to the Great Lakes and so on. What's your overall sense of where we're heading with the invasive species and how we are combatting them?
    It's interesting. We talk about the changes to the Fisheries Act, and people talk about various things. The one major addition that I think we've made in the Fisheries Act is the regulatory authority around aquatic invasive species. In 1977, which I think was the last time we changed the Fisheries Act and put in the habitat provisions and those types of things, it wasn't an issue. It was an issue, but it wasn't as significant an issue. What we're trying to do now in terms of fisheries protection is to have an overall program that manages threats to fisheries by understanding that threats to fisheries come from habitat, interruptions to water flow, pollution, overfishing, and aquatic invasive species. We now have the regulatory authority to establish a regulation to address aquatic invasive species, and we're working on a regulation. We've been working on it with the provinces. The reality is that the provinces have a lot of the authority with respect to managing aquatic invasive species. They're all across the country.
    That regulation that we are drafting will speak to prohibiting the import, sale, possession, and transport of aquatic invasive species. There will be a schedule 2 list, and we're working with the provinces to establish what would go on that schedule and what would be banned, etc. We've had a science program for a number of years, but also established is a science network, something called CAISN, which stands for Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network, and we partner with them. There's an enormous amount of science work undertaken to address those things. There are ballast water regulations in place. There are a number of initiatives, and one of the things we're trying to do under our new program is pull all of those things together. While we've actually reduced in some of the areas, we've actually invested a little bit in aquatic invasive species, if only to try to connect all the different programs we have going. That's in addition to the specific initiatives we have on Asian carp, sea lamprey, and other initiatives like that.


    My sense is that it's become a much larger priority, and the sense of cooperation is there. I know that one of the things you hear more about is people bringing in their pet...I was going to say foreign fish, but fish from afar, wherever it might come from, and it's actually had quite a destructive impact on local.... I think in one of our lakes in Nova Scotia, in the Kejimkujik area, you see a lot of perch going up and trout going down, that type of thing.
    I'm not sure what all of the reasons are, but it's become a priority such that, as you say, it's a cooperative effort. Do you see that continuing in the years to come?
    The Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers is a group that meets once a year and regularly. They have a few task forces and ongoing committees. Aquatic invasive species was established a few years ago and is one of the key places where we work very closely with the provinces, because we have joint responsibility for it, and we've worked with them on the regulation, but also on what we're doing to address what is indeed an emerging issue.
    Thank you very much.
    Thank you, Mr. Kerr.
     Mr. Stoffer.
    It's like déjà vu, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much for coming back.
    Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in. I have just a few questions for you.
    I noticed the $4 million on the Asian carp. Is that in cooperation with the Americans, in terms of what they're doing for the Mississippi? Is it a joint effort in that regard? That's question one.
    I didn't see anything on the lamprey eel out of St. Marys River, which is always a huge problem. If Paul Steckle was here, he would have asked that question. What is being done on the lamprey eel specifically?
    I know this is rather unusual, but I actually watched a bit of the Conservative convention, and one of the unanimous resolutions it came up with was on the elimination—I'm paraphrasing now—of the FFMC. I'm just wondering if the government or the minister has given you any direction regarding the future of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.
    On the Fisheries Act changes as to who defines commercial, recreational, and aboriginal.... There are millions of lakes in Canada, as you know, but who is going to get to determine what fish is recreational? The last time I was on this committee, we were raising the issue of freshwater habitat being used as tailing ponds throughout the country, through schedule 2 of the Mining Act. That was one of the concerns a lot of people had—fishermen, environmental groups, aboriginal groups—about freshwater habitat being used as tailing ponds. I don't see anything in the act that stops that activity from happening.
    The last question I have for you.... Congratulations on the Zalinski. I'm glad to see it's being cleaned up. But what about the Queen of the North, the ferry that came down? I'm not sure if that would be Transport's responsibility or Environment's, but with all of those vehicles on that vessel, eventually that's going to have a leak problem somewhere. Are you monitoring that, and what is being done to mitigate that concern as well?
    That's it. I thank you all very much for coming.
    Perhaps I can start it off, and I'll look to others to....
    I have more, but I don't have any more time.
    I hope I got all of these.
    With respect to the FFMC, I wasn't able to watch any of the convention myself, but the FFMC continues as a going concern. It's had its corporate plan, as it always must, approved by the Minister of Finance, and we're expecting revisions for 2014-15 soon. That's the short answer on FFMC.
    With respect to the definition of fisheries in the act, I actually thank you for that question because we've heard quite a bit about it. We included these definitions, just to be clear, in a spatial perspective about how new paragraph 35(2)(b) of the act was going to be applied. For commercial fisheries, we defined them as fish that are harvested under the authority of a licence for sale, trade, or barter.
    I understand, and that's a fairly straight one—aboriginal. My concern was that when I lived in the Yukon, pilots there had lakes to themselves. Only they knew where these lakes were. There are thousands and thousands of lakes. Who determines which body of water is considered recreational?


     We defined, if I could, just recreational fisheries as fish that are harvested under the authority of a licence for personal use or sport. So that takes us into the world of anything that is regulated by provincial governments, for example. But as I say, this and the aboriginal fishery definition are meant to give us guidance on how to apply paragraph 35(2)(b). It would take longer to get into this, but any fishery that meets these three definitions, or any fishery or habitat that's involved, that supports these three fisheries, would be subject to the paragraph 35(2)(b) authorization.
    Will there be fisheries in Canada that do not support either a commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fishery? It's possible—not likely, but possible. In the event that we see those, run into those, then we'll deal with them on a case-by-case basis. But you know, you've raised a really interesting point, because I think.... It's so long that I've been in and around DFO, I think I've actually had this discussion with you before, a long time ago. The issue was whether or not a lake that had three trout in it would be considered a fishery and therefore require an authorization. I think it might have been a gas project or whatever.
     But at the time, if my memory serves me correctly, it wasn't connected to a fishery because it wasn't connected to anything. It was like a pond. We went back and forth on that one forever. The difference between the old legislation and the new legislation is that we would deal with that case by case. But it would have to be line of sight between that pond and whether or not it supported a commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fishery. I don't doubt that it's faced with the same fact base. We deliberate for a long time, but the outcome very well may be different.
    Thank you very much, Mr. King.
    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Can he answer about the Queen of the North?
    The Chair: Your time is up.
    My time is up?
     He wanted to answer on the Queen of the North.
    Nice try, Peter.
    Can you answer that quite briefly, Mr. King or Mr. Grégoire?
    Yes, I can answer it.
    Of course, it's a concern, and it's a concern that has also been expressed to us by the first nations there, mostly by the Gitga'at, who live in the Hartley Bay, because the ship sank right beside there in March of 2006, I believe. But the situation is totally different because BC Ferries owns that vessel, BC Ferries is in operation, and BC Ferries is responsible for any pollution from that ship. Should there be pollution from that ship, it would be of lesser importance than from the Zalinski, because rather than having bunker C on board, the Queen of the North has standard diesel, which is of a lesser concern.
    But still, if there was a spill, BC Ferries would have to deal with this, and we would go on site as federal monitor for pollution intervention.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Grégoire.
    I had to give Mr. Stoffer a few more seconds, but it was because he was watching the Conservative convention.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    Yes. Merci beaucoup. Thank you.
    Ms. Davidson, please.
    Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
    And thanks, gentlemen, for being with us again. It's always a pleasure to have you here.
    I just want to bring you back to vote 1(b) for a very quick minute before I ask a couple of other questions. I have a question on the Asian carp. You have $4.5 million of funding in these supplementary estimates. Can you tell me what that's going to be used for?
    Most of that fund goes to our central and arctic region. A lot of it goes to science. It's people in Burlington. It really has four areas. There's funding for prevention, which includes things like education and outreach. I'll give you a couple of examples. We're working with the Invasive Species Centre in Sault Ste. Marie on an Asian carp website that they're working on. It's those types of things. We have a partnership with the Royal Ontario Museum. We have a partnership in terms of outreach with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. So prevention is one piece of it.
    Early warning is a second piece. We did a binational risk assessment with the U.S., which goes to a question that was asked earlier. Yes, we are working with the U.S. on these funds. We did a binational risk assessment that said here are the five areas that we're most concerned about with respect to entry. We're identifying those areas and going around and establishing early warning pieces so that we're able to identify if they're getting in, frankly.
    Response is a third area. We will have all seen in the newspapers and on social media that a gigantic fish was found in the Grand River, or wherever. We were out there immediately, putting nets in the water, checking eDNA. So there's a response quickly to be able to see what's actually happening, and doing some testing in terms of what is going on. We're working with the U.S. as well in that regard.
    Finally, there is management and control, which thankfully we haven't had to do yet.
    Those are really the main areas. You'll see the funding starts significantly and decreases over time. It's about getting some of those things going first, especially the early warning areas.


     Thank you.
    I'd like to ask, probably Mr. Grégoire, about the procurement for the new Canadian Coast Guard small vessels and the search and rescue lifeboats. It says in number 10 on this chart that it's funding for the planning stage. Could you tell me what the planning stage is, and where does that lead us?
    Certainly. It's preparing the documentation. It's preparing the engineering documents, the naval architect documents—all of those steps. In the case of the search and rescue boats, we are virtually ready to go with a request for proposal early in 2014. With the rest of the vessels, it's preparing the work.
    So the various projects are at various stages. There are some specialty vessels in the package, some science vessels. The preparatory work involves meeting with the stakeholders, meeting with the clients—in this case with scientists—and all of that work that leads to the operational requirements of a specific vessel, the next phase being the design of that vessel.
    In the specific case of the SAR lifeboats, we have completed the design and we're just about ready to go.
    Along the same line, we talk about the project definition phase to renew the helicopter fleet. Could you tell us about that, please?
    Certainly. This work has been done with Transport Canada, which actually operates our helicopters. In the fiscal framework, as Monsieur Bombardier explained earlier, we have some money reserved for 24 helicopters. That's up to 22 light and medium helicopters in total, plus two for the future polar icebreaker. The money we would get through the supplementary estimates (B) is to do the preparatory work to be able to launch an RFP for the medium helicopters, which are next. We already did that for the light helicopters. We expect to launch the RFP, the request for proposal, in January for the medium-sized helicopters.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Ms. Davidson.
    Mr. MacAulay.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    I'd like you to comment on the WTO decision to uphold the European ban on seal products. What action will you be taking?
    It's true, I believe, that we have lost markets over the last four or five years in the United States, Mexico, Russia, and China. Why? When you look at Russia, they have a seal hunt of their own. Here we have the WTO upholding this ban.
    What effect would the European free trade deal have on this?
    And also, if you can answer, are the seals the biggest consumer of fish in the world today or not?
    I can't say in the world.
    Are they close?
    Certainly they are the biggest consumers in Canadian Atlantic waters, relevant to fishing exploitation, at least. I can't speak to the whole ecosystem. If you look at the biomass, they might be there, but if you look at individual fish, you can't say, because they go through larval stages.
    With respect to access to markets, seal pelts used to be a lot easier to market than they are now, but I would point out that in the past few years there have been sales of tens of thousands of pelts and meat and oil.
    The nature of the decision of the WTO does leave a lot of questions. It leaves a great many questions that require, in the opinion of many, clarification through an appeal. It said that there were in fact unfair trade practices, but they were based on moral arguments. Those are very vague. That's what I think would have to be explored in terms of a question to be considered for appeal to another level. That's not yet a final decision, but it is something that is a significant concern.


     Are others subject to the moral argument too, like Russia?
    That's part of the question. And then where does that apply and what kinds of other products would it apply to? Those are the questions that I think are outstanding and would require some clarification if it is decided we need to appeal that kind of decision to a different level.
    Why did we lose all the markets over the last few years?
    There has been a very well-funded concerted campaign on the part of a number of groups to intentionally attack those markets and our access to markets. That is just the reality. As I said, however, we have been marketing tens of thousands of seal products.
    Have they attacked the Russians?
    They went into the Russian market, obviously, and had some influence there, but the answer to that is there are still hunts going on in a great many areas, smaller obviously, but the seals are killed in various parts of Europe and various other locations that are taking the approach that they don't want commercial products on the one hand, but they are culling or killing seals on the other.
    Thank you very much.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. MacAulay.
    Gentlemen, I want to thank you for appearing before our committee today. I know you said you had planned to be here for an hour, and I want to thank you for your patience while we went through several questions. We certainly do appreciate your time.
    If I could, Mr. Chair, I would like to make one correction to an answer to an earlier question on the number of recommendations related to Justice Cohen's report. I believe I said 12 or a dozen were being followed. I actually misread my notes. It's seven, but I'm still happy to provide them to the committee.
     You will provide a briefing note through the clerk, if you don't mind, Deputy.


    Thank you very much.
    This committee stands adjourned.
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