Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for inviting me to address you today.
As mentioned, I work at the Department of Finance as assistant deputy minister of the economic development and corporate finance branch. My role is to support the Minister of Finance in making funding and policy decisions on matters related to agriculture, fisheries, transport, infrastructure, defence, regional development, innovation, science and technology, natural resources, and the environment.
The Department of Finance is the government's primary source of analysis and advice on Canada's economic and financial affairs. In certain policy areas, the department is the lead within the Government of Canada. The department has the lead responsibility for policy development on tax and tariff legislation, major federal transfers to the provinces and territories, the legislative and regulatory framework for the financial sector, and representing Canada within international financial institutions. The department also provides analysis and advice on the economic merit and fiscal implications of policy and program proposals developed by other departments. Departmental officials serve as members of a broader team of federal officials from the Privy Council Office and Treasury Board Secretariat that reviews options for and the implications—economic, social, and environmental—of proposals that are presented to cabinet.
These two roles as a lead on certain policy areas and as a central agency have shaped the department's activities with respect to the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
The federal sustainable development strategy for 2013-16 has four priority themes. The Department of Finance is not the departmental lead on any of those themes. Finance has, however, established implementation strategies related to the goals and targets under theme I and theme III of the federal sustainable development strategy, consistent with its lead in certain policy areas.
In particular, with respect to theme I, “Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality”, the department has advanced as an implementation strategy the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment, which provides a financial benefit by deferring taxation for businesses that invest in clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment.
Also in support of theme I, a green levy is imposed on certain fuel-inefficient passenger vehicles available in Canada. The levy is payable by manufacturers or importers of new vehicles delivered after March 19, 2007, and by importers of used vehicles if the vehicle was originally put into service in any jurisdiction after March 19, 2007. The Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency are responsible for the administration of the levy.
Under theme III on protecting nature and Canadians, the Department of Finance delivers the ecological gifts program, which provides tax assistance for donations of ecologically sensitive lands.
Finally, under theme IV, waste and waste management, the Department of Finance has a range of actions to reduce waste and implement sustainable practices for its asset management, largely focused on green procurement.
I am pleased to note that the Department of Finance's new building at 90 Elgin Street recently received LEED gold certification.
The department's most important contribution to sustainable development lies in the development of policies and advice to support a strong economy and sound public finances for Canadians. Given the Department of Finance Canada's focus on fiscal issues and its role in the development and management of major transfers, the department has established social and economic goals and plans activities that supplement the federal sustainable development strategy and contribute to sustainable development.
The supplementary goals include the following: goal one, promoting fiscal sustainability and a high standard of living for future generations; goal two, strong social foundations; and goal three, integrating sustainable development considerations in policy-making.
As the assistant deputy minister within Finance Canada responsible for federal environmental departments and agencies, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, I am also the departmental champion of sustainable development.
My branch coordinates the preparation of the Department of Finance’s sustainable development strategy under the Federal Sustainable Development Act, as well as the reporting of Finance’s contributions and activities. In the challenge role function, we contribute to the development of sustainable development policy by reviewing cabinet and funding proposals pertaining to the Federal Sustainable Development Act and its implementation. I am also responsible for championing the cabinet directive on the environmental assessment of policy, plan, and program proposals within the Department of Finance.
Strategic environmental assessments are a key policy tool for evaluating the potential environmental effects of proposed policies, plans, and programs and support informed decision-making. SEAs have been required to consider how proposals affect the achievement of federal sustainable development strategy goals and targets since 2010. The Department of Finance Canada implements the cabinet directive by ensuring that a preliminary strategic environmental assessment has been conducted for a policy, plan, or program on which the Minister of Finance is asked to make a decision.
For policies, plans, or programs where Finance is the policy lead, a preliminary scan of the proposal is completed to determine whether the proposal will result in important environmental effects. If the results of this scan indicate that the proposal will have significant impacts on the environment, a full SEA is completed. A ministerial briefing on the proposal includes a statement that environmental effects have been considered in the development of the proposal and it provides a summary of the conclusions of the analysis.
Annual training sessions are offered on Finance’s strategic environmental assessment processes, and within the department each branch is required to identify a coordinator, and SEAs are collected on a quarterly basis for reporting within the department’s performance report. In 2014-15, the department completed 202 preliminary scans and four full SEAs. A total of 45 Finance employees attended two SEA training sessions that were held in fall 2015.
As a central agency, the Department of Finance reviews proposals put forth by other government departments and ministers and provides advice to the Minister of Finance on funding decisions. Included in this advice are the results of an SEA, which is conducted by other government departments as required under the cabinet directive. Finance also works with departments and agencies to ensure that the directive has been fully considered during the development of memoranda to cabinet.
Finally, while the department's general mandate is most evidently linked to the economic and social pillars of sustainable development, the department continuously strives to recognize the implications of its analysis and advice on all aspects of sustainable development and to take into account the linkages between economic, social, and environmental sustainability. I hope that provides you with a clear picture of the Department of Finance Canada’s mandate and role with respect to environmental and sustainable development policy development.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Hello, Madam Chair, honourable members.
My name is Les Linklater and I am the deputy secretary for operations at the Privy Council Office or PCO. I am responsible for PCO’s economic and regional development policy and social policy secretariats, the orders-in-council division, the cabinet papers system, and the newly created youth secretariat.
My officials are responsible for providing policy advice to the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Prime Minister on a range of files, including those that support the integrated economic, social, and environmental objectives of sustainable development.
In addition to supporting the Prime Minister, the operations branch also supports the operation of several cabinet committees including the following: diversity and inclusiveness; inclusive growth, opportunities and innovation; defence procurement; and environment, climate change and energy.
While proposals coming forward to cabinet are led by ministers, the operations branch at PCO works with departmental officials to ensure that the proposals are fully analyzed and challenged, alternative options are considered, appropriate interdepartmental consultations are undertaken, and, along with the Department of Finance and the Treasury Board Secretariat, that costs and administrative implications are clear before presentations are made to cabinet committees. We also brief the chairs of the various committees and provide secretariat services to ensure that meetings run smoothly.
While the integration of environmental, social, and economic considerations into the development of policy is not a new concept, momentum behind sustainable development and the issues underpinning this concept have been bolstered in recent months, given global milestones like the adoption at the United Nations of the sustainable development goals and the agreement in Paris to a new action plan for addressing climate change.
In Canada the government has made sustainable development a top priority. The Speech from the Throne indicated clearly that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. It also emphasized that addressing social issues, such as helping immigrants settle successfully into Canada and strengthening our relationship with indigenous communities, would support a stronger, more inclusive, Canadian economy.
Building on this foundation, the government is making climate change a key priority. As the indicated at the COP 21 in Paris, it is viewing climate change not only as a challenge, but as an opportunity to develop a low-carbon economy.
The Vancouver Declaration, agreed to by the first ministers on March 3, launched a federal, provincial, and territorial work program that will help develop options for a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This framework will enable Canada to achieve or surpass its ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, while also setting the stage for clean growth, with an emphasis on investments in innovation and clean jobs.
The Vancouver Declaration also emphasizes the role of stakeholders, particularly indigenous Canadians, in developing the solutions to the climate change challenge. Further to these objectives, budget 2016 proposes to provide $2.4 billion over 5 years to address climate change and air pollution issues, along with significant investments in clean technology, green infrastructure, and other measures that support not only the environmental, but also the economic and social objectives of sustainable development.program
As mentioned earlier, the government also constituted the cabinet committee on environment, climate change, and energy, charged with considering issues concerning sustainable development, the stewardship of Canada’s natural resources, the environment, energy, water, and Canada’s contribution to addressing climate change. Without breaking any confidences, I assure you it is a full agenda.
At the Privy Council Office, like all public servants, we have a duty to support the government in meeting its objectives by providing well-informed, non-partisan advice to support decision-making. As it relates to sustainable development, the public service also has a responsibility to be transparent with Canadians and to lead by example. The Federal Sustainable Development Act provides us with the framework through which to do that.
By developing a federal sustainable development strategy, we have the opportunity to articulate to Canadians goals and targets, and propose approaches for meeting them. Led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the strategy, which is now in its third cycle, identifies whole-of-government priorities and offers an inventory of the programs, initiatives, and measures undertaken to advance these priorities.
As you know, the has recently released, for consultation, the draft FSDS for the 2016-19 period. As she notes in her message at the beginning of the draft report, the government is seeking the public’s help in improving the report before it is finalized.
The Privy Council Office also has an important role to play in the implementation of the cabinet directive on strategic environmental assessment, which requires that policy, plan, and program proposals with potentially important positive or negative environmental effects be assessed and that the relevant information be provided to decision-makers.
Specifically, given our role in supporting the cabinet process, we can play a challenging function with departments as they develop their policy proposals, and seek to ensure that the information about a proposal's environmental effects are clearly presented to ministers as part of a memorandum to cabinet. That needs to go beyond just those memoranda dealing directly with environmental issues, and be applied not only to issues advancing through the cabinet committee on environment, climate change, and energy. In fact, it is sometimes in those areas not traditionally associated with the environment or sustainable development where understanding the potential environmental impacts could be most important. The cabinet directive prompts people to take a second look and consider all possible ramifications, even if they might not be obvious at first glance.
That said, recent findings by the commissioner for the environment and sustainable development have made it clear that government-wide we need to be doing a better job of respecting the directive. In their responses to her findings, departments have committed to improving their practices and implementing the recommendations she has made.
Within the Government of Canada, sustainable development is not just about filling out templates and ensuring that proposals consider all of the potential environmental impacts. We are also making efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations through the work of the office of greening government operations housed at Public Services and Procurement Canada. The office provides guidance and advice to departments on ways to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions, and waste, and to optimize water management. It also tracks progress against targets as outlined in the FSDS.
Internally to PCO, we continue to strive towards reducing our carbon footprint such as through the implementation of green procurement initiatives related to equipment and paper products as outlined in our departmental sustainable development strategy. Further, as was noted in budget 2016, we will be putting more focus on digital communications going forward.
The government has also made a commitment to ensuring that its words are put into action. Under the oversight of the agenda, results, and communications committee of cabinet, ministers and the departments supporting them will be accountable for demonstrating progress made against key government priorities. This process will help track progress under the government's clean growth agenda specifically, but appropriate linkages will be made with other priorities to ensure that policies are not working at cross-purposes and that the government's broader agenda is one that supports social, economic, and environmental objectives in an integrated manner.
In summary, Madam Chair, PCO is strongly involved in making sustainable development a reality through its support for the government in advancing this as a stated priority through its coordinating function on files affecting economic, social, and environmental objectives and through its efforts to support greener government internally and with other departments.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, honourable members, and Commissioner Gelfand.
I'd like to start by complimenting the committee on tackling this subject of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. It's potentially a very important tool in accelerating Canada's progress towards a sustainable future. I should also apologize. I'll take the responsibility for not having provided my written submission in a timely fashion, and the blame goes to me for not having it translated in time.
I've been working as an environmental lawyer in Canada for 25 years, teaching environmental law and policy for about 20 years. Not surprisingly, I've done a lot of work in this area of sustainable development. I've also assisted governments from other countries, particularly Sweden, in the development of their national legislation governing sustainable development.
I'd like to draw upon that experience today and share with you 10 recommendations on how the Federal Sustainable Development Act could be strengthened going forward in ways that I think would make Canada a healthier, wealthier, and more sustainable nation.
I should also add at the outset that this law, which has its roots in a private member's bill from the Honourable John Godfrey, who I know testified before you last month, actually has deeper roots. The researchers at Simon Fraser University who worked with Mr. Godfrey drew their inspiration from a report I had prepared for the David Suzuki Foundation called “Sustainability within a Generation”, which in turn had its roots in a very inspiring Swedish law that was passed in 1999 and that really set Sweden on a trajectory to become the global leader that it is today in the field of sustainable development.
Without any further introduction, let me quickly provide an overview of the 10 recommendations, which have extensive detail in my written submission.
The first is that the focus of the Federal Sustainable Development Act needs to be broadened to address all three pillars of sustainable development. As it's currently framed, the focus is almost entirely on the environment, but we need to be looking at economic and social components as well. That broad, multi-pronged approach to sustainable development is the approach taken by global leaders such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Wales, and other countries. That's number one.
Number two is that we need to have Parliament put some long-term objectives into the act, some objectives that clarify Canada's overarching goals in terms of sustainable development; and that direction is really fundamental for the civil servants who are preparing the federal sustainable development strategy. Let me just turn to the 2016-19 draft to give you an example of why this is so critical.
The 2016-19 draft federal sustainable development strategy has what it calls five long-term aspirational goals for Canada. These include fresh water and oceans; clean technology, jobs, and innovation; human health and well-being; and national parks and protected areas. These are not long-term goals. These are not aspirations. Many countries have put the long-term objectives into their sustainable development legislation. Sweden has done that.
You had the gentleman from Wales before you on Tuesday. Wales has in its Well-being of Future Generations Act seven broad goals that frame the Welsh focus on sustainable development. I've provided some examples in my written submission of the kinds of long-term objectives that could be incorporated into the act.
Number three—and you will have heard this from other witnesses—it's absolutely essential that the act be amended to require the development of short-, medium-, and long-term sustainable development targets that are SMART. By SMART, I mean specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Again, these are criteria of targets that are absolutely essential for accountability, for monitoring, and for enabling the commissioner of the environment to actually perform her function as a watchdog and as an auditor.
Number four, I think the current act identifies one principle of sustainable development. It mentions the precautionary principle. In fact, there are many other principles of sustainable development such as the polluter-pays principle, such as the right to live in a healthy environment, and others which should be included in the act. Again, this is something that's commonly found. Sweden's act contains a number of these principles. Quebec's Sustainable Development Act includes 16 different sustainable development principles.
These principles are important to include in the legislation because they will provide guidance to all of the departments, not only for their sustainable development strategies but for the policies, programs, and plans that they put in place and that they implement.
My fifth recommendation is another one that you've heard, which is based on a recommendation from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD has prepared a number of reports on best practices in terms of national sustainable development strategies, and has identified as their number one recommendation the importance of having central agencies in charge of preparing the whole-of-government strategy. In countries like Norway, for example, you have the department of finance that has primary responsibility for the sustainable development strategy. In a number of other countries, including France and Germany, you have other senior government bodies that are in charge. We need to move the sustainable development office from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in Canada to share responsibility with one or more, or potentially all of the central agencies.
The fifth recommendation that I make is that we also should be adding some additional requirements governing the federal sustainable development strategy. The first is that we should have annual progress reports rather than progress reports every three years. Having annual progress reports is commonplace in business and in other countries, and enables us to make sure that we're on track towards meeting those short-, medium-, and long-term goals.
As well, I think the act should require the federal sustainable development strategy to address how it will further the achievement of Canada's contribution to the UN sustainable development goals and to other international commitments that Canada has made, such as the Paris agreement.
Then we should also consider strengthening the role of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development so that not only is she in charge of reviewing the draft strategy and reviewing the progress reports, but so that she can actually reject the draft strategy if it includes targets that do not meet those SMART criteria I mentioned earlier. The draft strategy should be sent back for revision until the commissioner is satisfied that the targets indeed meet those SMART criteria.
Similarly, in terms of the strategies themselves, if the strategies are inadequate for meeting those targets then the commissioner should be empowered to require the government to come back with a revised strategy.
Those are all recommendations that you've heard from other witnesses, and then I'll just close my initial remarks by saying there are two other recommendations I've outlined in my brief that are a bit more ambitious in scale.
The first of those is that Canada should create an advocate for future generations. This is something that's been done in other countries, including Wales, Hungary, and Malta. I just think it's really important that we have a voice in this country for the interests of future generations.
The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development does an amazing job, has done so for two decades here in Canada, but the role of the commissioner is really a backwards-looking one. It's reviewing the commitments government has made and the actions government has taken. The role of an advocate for future generations would be much more forward-looking, looking into the future to determine what the future trends are that Canada will face. What are the challenges we're going to face? What are the opportunities? What kinds of laws, policies, programs, and plans can Canada put in place that will protect the needs and the interests of those future generations? That is a novel concept. There are only a handful of countries in the world that have adopted that, but I think it's something that Canada could and should be at the forefront of globally.
Then my final recommendation comes from—
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thanks, gentlemen, for being here.
As always, thanks, Ms. Gelfand, for being here. It's always great to see you.
Mr. Fast went right exactly where I wanted to go. I was going to ask the question of Mr. Linklater, because the PCO is supposed to work with other departments to ensure the cabinet directive is followed. Then Mr. Botham said that he is responsible for championing cabinet directive.
I'm a positive person, but it's getting frustrating. This has been a long-standing issue, and I get the sense that Mr. Botham thinks maybe this is working or this is happening better than it is, from what we've heard from other witnesses.
Other than laying blame or taking us too far down this exact same road we've talked about, what can we do? I'll ask both gentlemen. Is there a way we can ensure that we get to the point? I don't know whether it's some of the other things we've talked about in the last few weeks about giving extra powers to the commissioner, or some of the things Mr. Boyd said. Where do we go? How do we get to the point that we...?
I read this:
||A committee of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, consisting of a Chairperson and other members of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, shall have oversight of the development and implementation of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy..
That's section 6 of our act. Then there's this statement here that says that there's no information found about this committee at all. Does that committee exist? Is it out there working? Are we all just spinning our wheels and not making any progress? From where I sit, this is getting very frustrating.
I would look to both of you, and maybe even the commissioner. What can we do as a committee to make sure we do better?
I'm sorry I've taken so long with the question.
If I may, I think we need to separate out the Federal Sustainable Development Act from the cabinet directive on strategic environmental assessment.
I've reported to you that in my last chapter on the strategic environmental assessment tool cabinet directive, we found that five out of 1,700 proposals that went to ministers in four departments had received a preliminary scan. We also found that 110 out of 250 memorandums to cabinet had gotten that scan. So we know that this tool, which has been around for a long time, is not particularly well used in those four departments.
A few years back, we audited the Department of Finance. They did a better job, so they as a department were using the tool better. Last year, when we issued our report, Privy Council Office issued a memorandum to analysts to ask them to be sure to follow the strategic environmental assessment and implement it. We then audited it a year later—so this was probably in 2014—and we found that proposals that went to ministers were still not being utilized.
Privy Council Office, with all due respect, has a big role in enforcing the strategic environmental assessment directive to make sure that everything that goes, particularly to cabinet, has been vetted through a strategic environmental assessment. That is a separate tool from the Federal Sustainable Development Act. We are looking at two different things. I want to make that really clear.
The proposals that Mr. Boyd brought forward are very specific things that you can change in the act, and he indicated in his presentation that his idea was to make the strategic environmental assessment tool—this thing—a legal obligation under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
If you recall, when I presented I simply suggested that we make the strategic environmental assessment tool a legal part of something. I didn't tell you which act. Technically, you might be able to put it in the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I'm not sure. I'm not a lawyer and Mr. Amos is nodding his head.
Basically Mr. Boyd and I are saying take that strategic environmental assessment directive and make it an obligation. Whether you do that through the Environmental Assessment Act or through your recommendations on the Federal Sustainable Development Act, that is up to you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
In terms of tax policy, we have a number of measures, and I think Richard mentioned them at the beginning of his remarks.
One of them, and probably the one you are referring to, is the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment. Essentially, accelerated capital cost allowance means that.... Under normal circumstances, you would depreciate your equipment based on the useful life of that equipment. In order to create an incentive to invest in this equipment, we have what we call an accelerated capital cost allowance, which is basically a higher rate of allowance.
In the case of two key measures we have—what we call class 43.2 and class 43.1—class 43.2 gives a 50% annual depreciation rate, and class 43.1 gives 30% per year. Basically, it allows an acceleration, so it allows a deferral of tax, in a way.
Recently, in budget 2016, we expanded that measure. We allow new equipment: for instance, stand-alone batteries, as well as charging stations for electrical vehicles.
There is a continuous relationship with the sector to make sure that these measures properly reflect the new technologies and advancements, which is why from time to time we have expansion of these, as in budget 2016. That's the role of finance with these measures, and that's how we make sure they properly reflect the needs of the sector.
Yes, there are two things.
First, my colleagues and I at the University of British Columbia have tried to get data on what the Government of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are, and we are having an extraordinarily difficult time getting that basic data. If we don't have that information, how can we know whether we're moving in the right direction?
The second thing that I was troubled by was the comments about the draft 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy, which you would think we would actually be improving as the years went by. Let me tell you frankly, it's a disaster. It has these five long-term aspirational goals, which aren't long term, which aren't aspirational, and which aren't goals. It has over 50 targets, very few of which meet the SMART criteria I described earlier. There's no measurability in many of the targets. Finally, the strategies included within the strategy for how we're going to meet those targets are nothing but a repetition of generic statements.
I went through and I actually searched. I found phrases that I thought I'd read before and, for example, I found 17 paragraphs repeated, identical paragraphs in the strategy about how voluntary measures could be used to achieve environmental goals, yada, yada. There were 15 paragraphs about the importance of education that were just cut and pasted. What we have is a really poor-quality strategy, which is because the act isn't providing sufficient guidance as to what needs to be in that strategy.
Thanks very much to all of you for being with us today and sharing your wisdom. There's a lot we have to consider as we're moving forward. I'm trying to get to that now, so I'm going to say thank you and let you go, and we're going to get to committee business. We won't break because we don't have time.
Thank you very much, everybody. We appreciate it. We're sorry to have to cut you off. There's just so much to get into, but thanks.
For our committee business, we have quite a few things to do. We'll just hand stuff out and give you a few minutes, and then we'll get going.
Okay? Sorry, guys, but I know there's very little time, and some people have to run right out, so could we have everybody back at the table? Thank you.
After the meeting on Tuesday, we had a subcommittee meeting to try to hash out how we were going to proceed with our committee business over the next couple of months to get to the summer.
Just to let you know what we're trying to do right now, there was also a motion tabled on CEPA. I don't know if Will is going to be moving anything today or not, but I know that he might do that. I also had an email from Mr. Fast asking us to consider having some other people come forward in front of this committee for consideration of and more discussion on the strategy. That's also something I'd like to discuss.
As well, we have a press release, and we have main estimates to cover for our budget. Plus, if we have time, we want to talk about the Startup Canada event on May 5 and who might like to attend.
I will get started with the adoption of the subcommittee report. You now have it in front of you. Obviously, with the suggestion from Mr. Fast that we might want more witnesses and with the comments that have already been made around the table that you might like more time to consider those directions to staff for the report, we might not even be able to stick to the schedule that on Tuesday we thought we could do.
I'll open this up for discussion on what's in front of you in terms of the work of the committee for the next couple of months. Does anybody want to talk to it?
You're correct, Madam Chair. Virtually all of our witnesses and the discussion around the table have focused on process rather than the 2016-19 strategy itself.
I'm not going to suggest that we bring in further witnesses on this study. I think if it's very clear that the recommendations we are making are based on improving the process, I believe that in the future we may have an opportunity to do a study on the strategies more specifically. Right now we have no material before us. Quite frankly, if we were going to review the proposed strategy, the draft strategy itself, we would require quite a number of additional meetings, because it's a document that has so many elements attached to it.
I am thus not recommending that we extend this study any further. I believe we can go to drafting instructions.
The comment I would make on the drafting is this. I find that, certainly in the past, in those instances in which committees came out with unanimous reports, without dissenting opinions or dissenting reports, the reports had the greatest gravitas so to speak, the greatest impact, because the report was issued unanimously.
I hope this is what we seek to achieve here. Having heard a lot of the testimony here, I expect we'll likely be supporting many of the recommendations that are going to be proposed. I think this is a very healthy process to go through.
Clearly, within government itself there has been a breakdown of the rigour with which the act has been applied, whether it's through the strategy or through the cabinet directive. I think we have a real opportunity to do something meaningful in the long term for the country.
Thank you. I didn't mean to cut you off, but we really don't have a lot of time.
We agreed that next Tuesday we have the minister. We had in our schedule for the following Thursday, which is April 21, that we're moving to protected areas. We were going to do that for five sessions, April 21, and May 3, 5, 10, and 12.
We are then going to move back to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act for May 17 and 19, and June 21 and 23.
We were supposed to consider the draft report. Perhaps it's obvious to everyone that we don't have drafting instructions time. One of these bits of time here on either the federally protected areas.... It needs to be sooner rather than later. I think we have to move the schedule at least one session. That would make sense to me.
Then we have the spring reports of the commissioner, which would be June 2.
Somebody has to give up some time. I believe at this point we probably need to give up federally protected areas. I think we'd like to stay current, while we're all cognizant of what we've heard. We have witnesses lined up, but they are mostly from departments here. We can move them and have them come on the 3rd. I'm just making suggestions and then we can have comments.
Let's make April 21, next Thursday, our drafting instructions day and discussion. I think we will have the discussions that Mike is trying to have and that Mr. Fast has tried to have about where we're really going to land to make sure that we are clean and clear when we go forward.
If that's the case, then we have May 3, 5, 10, and 12 on federally protected areas. We go back to CEPA for May 17 and 19, and June 21 and 23. We have consideration of a draft report, giving Penny and Tim the time to have something ready for us on May 31 to consider and discuss. Then we have the commissioner, potentially, coming to us to give us a chance to question her on her reports. I did find it helpful last time. It's up to the committee.
Then we have agreed at the subcommittee that we will move on to the fourth subject matter, which is a climate change study on June 7, 9, and 14. Then we go back to the federally protected areas to try to do a draft, the consideration of—no, sorry, my fault.
We were going to do drafting instructions for the federally protected areas on May 12. I'm not sure we're going to have enough time to do all this and get online for the federally protected areas, which means—