Thank you, Madam Chair.
Committee members, dear colleagues, I am happy to be with you this morning to talk about the 2018-2019 Main Estimates for Environment and Climate Change Canada, for the Parks Canada Agency, and for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
I believe that this is my sixth appearance before this committee since I became minister, and my third appearance in the last 11 weeks. It's a pleasure to be back.
Today, as we have heard from the chair, I am joined by Jonathan Wilkinson, my amazing Parliamentary Secretary; Dr. Stephen Lucas, Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada; Daniel Watson, Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada Agency; and Ron Hallman, President of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
I want to start by recognizing that we're on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe peoples.
As you all know, we're celebrating World Environment Day today.
Happy World Environment Day.
It's also Canadian Environment Week. So this really is the ideal day to be here. I'm glad I am, despite some scheduling conflicts.
This year, the theme of World Environment Day and Canadian Environment Week is the fight against plastic pollution. This year's events and activities are inspired by the issues that will be discussed during the G7 summit, on June 8 and 9, in the Charlevoix region, in Quebec.
I would also note that I was very pleased to see Bill pass third reading with the unanimous vote in the House of Commons yesterday, despite the Conservative attempt to delay the passage of the bill by deleting a clause at report stage that Mr. Fast had already convinced the committee to amend. That said, I am glad to see it moving forward, as it was based on the unanimous recommendations of this committee.
I would also like to congratulate the committee on its in-depth study of Bill and on the many thoughtful amendments passed by the members of this committee. You heard from 80 witnesses and reviewed more than 150 submissions over a period of two months. The quality and scope of your amendments demonstrate the rigour of your study of the bill, and I am happy to be able to say that our government will support these amendments.
We are now beginning report stage debate, and unsurprisingly, the Conservatives are once again engaging in delay tactics by moving to delete every clause of the act, with not one substantive amendment.
Despite these actions, our government will continue to ensure that we restore public trust, protect the environment, introduce modern safeguards, advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and ensure that good projects go ahead and resources get to market, because that's what Canadians expect.
On April 16, the president of the Treasury Board tabled the 2018-2019 estimates and departmental plans. The tabling of these documents is an important step taken by our government in the reform of the estimates.
The estimates include 100% of the measures announced in the budget, and provide parliamentarians with key information to ensure better government accountability.
Speaking of accountability, I trust that the Conservative members at this table will take some time to explain to Canadians why only 11 short weeks ago they attempted to gut the funding of this portfolio in estimates votes for this fiscal year by reducing the budget by over $625 million—in fact, $627,365,749. This included a cut of over $320 million to Environment and Climate Change Canada, a cut of over $15 million to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and a cut of close to $320 million to Parks Canada. This would have meant layoffs for public servants and the closure of our national parks. It was the height of irresponsibility, and I want to note it for the record at this meeting on the estimates today. Budget votes are not a game and Conservative members should know better. Decisions made in this place have real impacts on people's lives, our country, and our environment.
With that, for Environment and Climate Change Canada, the main estimates include $1.5 billion in planned spending. That's an increase of $528.6 million, or a 54% increase over last year's main estimates. They also include a new central vote under the Treasury Board Secretariat for budget implementation. For Environment and Climate Change Canada, that central vote totals $71.4 million.
With respect to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, for 2018-19, the main estimates provide total funding of $33.6 million.
With respect to Parks Canada, funding of over $1.4 billion is expected through the 2018-19 main estimates, an increase of $83 million, or 6%, over last year's main estimates. For the Parks Canada Agency, the central vote includes two items: $23.6 million for protecting Canada's nature, parks, and wild spaces; and $1.25 million for supporting indigenous history and heritage.
As minister, my key priority continues to be ensuring that our government provides leadership to take action on climate change. We're 100% committed to reaching our 2030 climate target and we're taking action, including accelerating the phase-out of coal, historic investments in cleaner infrastructure, and putting in place a price on pollution to grow the economy in cleaner ways.
Canadians know that pollution incurs costs, related to droughts, floods and extreme weather events, as well as effects on our health.
We're expecting that climate change will cost our economy $5 billion per year by 2020. Doing nothing is not an option.
We have a plan that will reduce pollution and allow us to meet our objectives, all while growing our economy and creating good jobs for the middle class.
The Conservatives don't have a climate plan. They don't seem to believe that climate change is a problem—or real, in some cases—and they're missing the boat on the trillions of dollars of economic opportunity in green growth around the world. According to the World Bank, the Paris Agreement will help open up nearly $23 trillion in new opportunities—let me repeat, $23 trillion in new opportunities—for climate-smart investments in emerging markets between now and 2030. Our climate plan is positioning Canada among the leaders in seizing those opportunities.
Canada's clean-tech sector is now ranked fourth in the world, and first in the G20. That's testimony to Canadian ingenuity, but it also reflects choices our government has made, such as putting a price on pollution and making smart support for clean innovation. The Conservatives, sadly, have no plan to support this essential part of our economy.
This December, we'll seize the opportunity to advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the Conference of the Parties, COP24. COP24 will be pivotal for sustaining momentum on climate action created by Paris. Why? If this year's COP can, and should, land the Paris rule book, rules about reporting, transparency, markets, and more that help translate ambition into action, it will guard parties' efforts to implement the Paris Agreement and will support enhanced ambition in years and decades ahead.
We will continue to protect Canadians and the environment from harmful substances by carrying out environmental assessments on the latter, by developing and implementing control measures, such as regulations, and by carrying out continual assessments on the reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, including the recommendations made by this committee.
We'll be tabling our recommendation-by-recommendation response to this committee's report on CEPA later this month. We'll also be implementing the regulations to ban asbestos in Canada, limit toxic emissions for refineries and petrochemical plants, and reduce contaminants in effluent from mining. Our government is also committed to protecting and conserving nature and wildlife. After a decade of Conservative inaction, we're making real progress by listening to scientists and moving quickly to help species recover. We're showing leadership by investing a historic $1.3 billion in budget 2018 for nature and conservation.
Canada is committed to conserving at least 17% of its land and inland waters by 2020, and we're making real progress. At this time, about 10.5% of Canada's land and fresh water, and almost 8% of marine and coastal areas, are under some form of protection in all 10 provinces, three territories, and three oceans. In support of this commitment, we're continuing to advance work on creating new national parks and national marine conservation areas, including the proposed Thaidene Nëné national park reserve in the Northwest Territories, the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen in British Columbia, and Tallurutiup Imanga national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound, Nunavut.
To ensure that this progress continues, the budget implementation vote includes $52.9 million to protect Canada's wildlife, parks and spaces. This funding will support us as the federal government moves forward with the protection and recovery of species at risk. We are focusing on the priority areas, species and sectors to obtain lasting results for a number of species.
I am delighted that the nature fund will supplement the funding given to the partners, businesses, provincial and territorial non-profit organizations, as well as to other entities to protect more private lands, and to support the provincial and territorial efforts that aim to protect species and enhance indigenous peoples' ability to conserve the lands and the species.
Together, the main estimates and new spending in budget 2018 will help create the clean-growth economy necessary for the collective health, prosperity, and security of this generation of Canadians and the next.
Thank you for your time today on World Environment Day. I look forward to your questions.