Thank you, Madam Chair.
It's a real pleasure to be in front of you and your colleagues today.
It's my first appearance at this committee, but as a start, I am very delighted to be with all of you and to talk about progress in infrastructure. I think, Madam Chair, that infrastructure touches the lives of Canadians in every community, whether urban or rural.
Good morning and thank you for inviting me, members of the committee.
I'm joined by Kelly Gillis, my very able deputy minister, who has been very active on this file to deliver for Canadians.
I'd like to start by acknowledging the outstanding work of my predecessor, . Minister Sohi was responsible for this file, and we all know he's truly passionate about infrastructure, almost as much as he is about his hometown of Edmonton. He left a good legacy in the projects and the program. He's been a strong voice for his region, and obviously the province of Alberta, and continues to be in his new portfolio as Minister of Natural Resources.
I would also like to thank my Deputy Minister, and the whole department of Infrastructure Canada for their hard work and dedication over the past three years. Thanks to their continued efforts, we have made enormous progress in delivering modern infrastructure to Canadians everywhere in the country.
Let me give a brief overview. Since I was appointed Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, I was fortunate enough to see first-hand our investments in infrastructure across the country. I recently attended the groundbreaking for the Port Lands flood protection project in Toronto, which will help transform the Port Lands into beautiful new communities that will be surrounded by parks and green spaces. It will also add affordable housing to the Toronto region.
I also visited the Inuvik wind generation project in the Northwest Territories, which will provide an efficient, reliable and clean source of energy for Inuvik residents. I was pleased that this was the first project under the Arctic energy fund, which is helping to move communities in the north from diesel to renewable energy.
I also visited an underground garage in Montreal that will increase the city's fleet of metro cars, improve the frequency of service, and, of course, support the anticipated growth in ridership on Montreal's public transit.
Let me briefly touch on a few successes that we've had so far. Our plan of investing $180 billion over the next decade in infrastructure across the country is truly historic. I am proud of the progress we have made so far and the positive impact it has made on people across the country. The plan is being delivered by 14 federal departments and agencies.
All 70 new programs and initiatives are now launched and more than 32,000 infrastructure projects have already been approved. Nearly all are underway.
Since 's last appearance at this committee in May, I am pleased to note some of the significant milestones we have achieved together. The first one, which I'm very proud of, is the smart cities challenge. Finalists were announced this summer, and the winners will be announced in late spring 2019.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank announced its first investment, which is $1.28 billion in the Réseau express métropolitain in Montreal. With this investment, the bank does exactly what it was intended to do: free up grant funding so that we can build more infrastructure for Canadians.
Despite the fact that very little was done to advance this important project when we formed government, the Gordie Howe international bridge is now finally under way. That is truly historic for Canada. We know the Windsor-Detroit corridor has about 30% of all merchandise trade between Canada and the United States. This project is truly building on our current and future prosperity.
Infrastructure Canada has also signed bilateral agreements with all of the provinces and territories for the next decade. We have already approved funding under these new guidelines for
the Green Line in Calgary, the Millennium Line extension in British Columbia,
and Azur subway trains for Montreal,
and the water treatment system in the Comox Valley Regional District in British Columbia.
Lastly, we also launched the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund. We've already received a number of applications for funding and are currently reviewing them.
I also had the pleasure to meet with my provincial and territorial counterparts in September. One key item we discussed was how to better match the flow of our funding and our processes with the construction season in the sense that we want to make our intake, review and approval process faster and better, and make sure that our processes, whether federal, provincial or territorial, are in line with the construction season. I have impressed on my colleagues that we need to work diligently on that.
I visited several projects where work is well under way, but the claims for reimbursements have not been submitted, for example the Cherry Street water and lake-filling project in Toronto and the Côte-Vertu garage in Montreal, Quebec. To address this issue, we recently launched a pilot project with Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Alberta to test the effectiveness of a progressive billing approach. We know that Canadians want to see funds that match milestones in projects, a “percentage of completion” type of approach, and we have asked our colleagues in the provinces to work with us to achieve that outcome as well.
In closing, I would like to thank the committee members for giving me this opportunity to update you. I hope that together, with each member of the committee, we will be able to build 21st-century infrastructures, modern, durable and green, for all Canadians.
I'm very happy to answer that question. I think the Infrastructure Bank is another tool in our tool box to deliver better and faster for Canadians.
We obviously don't talk to the same people. I used to be trade minister, and I can tell you that investors around the world were looking to crowd in investment in Canada. For the Infrastructure Bank, like you said, the first project was the REM in Montreal. It was allowed to give a loan to get that project going, which is going to transform public transit in the city.
I can reassure the member that I speak with the CEO of the bank, although it's an independent entity in its management and investment decisions. I talk to the CEO regularly. They are currently looking at more than a few dozen projects. They have had, I would say, hundreds of conversations across the country with community leaders and representatives of territorial and provincial governments.
For me, it's about doing more. It's making sure that we have more money available to deliver across the country. The bank is allowing us, for example—
Thank you, Minister, for being here this morning.
Minister, first of all, I do have to express my appreciation for the over $300 million that you have afforded my riding over the past few years, in terms of the infrastructure work that's been done. Of course, that alleviates the financial burden on those who pay property taxes, but also it enhances diverse business planning within many sectors of our business community. In partnership with the business communities, our municipalities are looking at sustainable funding envelopes to satisfy community improvement planning and community improvement strategies but also at aligning those investments for better returns on those investments for, once again, enhancing the overall structure of the community as well as the different sectors that are part of the community.
Mr. Minister, can you speak on some of the sustainable funding envelopes that are being made available for both communities and the businesses within them?
Thank you very much for the question.
What we have done, which is truly transformational in this country, is to provide stability and predictability in the funding for municipalities. The FCM called it a game-changer. I know the member comes from municipal government, so he well understands what it is to be able to plan infrastructure. I keep saying that when we take money and put it in infrastructure, we invest, because by definition, that goes more than a fiscal cycle. It is for 10, 15 or sometimes even 100 years ahead.
I would say that the $180 billion we have provided is really a game-changer. It's historic in our country. If you look at the stream of investment we have decided on, for me public transit is key. Not only does it afford more mobility so that people can spend more time with their families and friends, since commuting is essential in our communities today, but also the green infrastructure stream is really in line with our values. I think Canadians understand today that we want 21st-century infrastructure, which is green, resilient and modern. The social stream is allowing us to bring Canadians together in the community centres that people want to see across Canada. Trade and transportation are very much linked to the 1.5 billion consumers that we have access to now through our various trade agreements. Making sure our goods go to market is essential. Finally, the rural and northern communities stream is allowing us to take into account the particular needs of communities across Canada.
I would say to my colleague that, indeed, what we are doing, especially with the integrated bilateral agreement—which provides funding over 10 years to communities, and they understand where we want to invest—is to fix the framework, but we let communities decide what is best for them in terms of specific projects.
My thanks to my colleague, Mr. Aubin. He and I represent much of a major region of Quebec.
The high frequency train has been one of my priorities since I was elected, if not even before. For our region like ours, it is essential in the development of the economy and of recreation and tourism, as well as for labour mobility.
I feel that Mr. Aubin and myself have, in every possible forum, repeated how much the project could make great things happen for the region and even for Quebec. There is often talk about a labour shortage. With a high frequency train between, say, Trois-Rivières, Montreal and Quebec City, people living in other centres would be able to come and work in ours.
Of course, I feel that the high frequency train is a component in 21st-century smart mobility. If we look at what is happening in a number of cities around the world, we can conclude that this is the kind of project that we want to support. That is why, in its recent statement, VIA Rail announced a massive investment in rolling stock, a vital requirement…
Madam Chair, I totally agree with my colleague on that. I mean, we faced an era in which there was a decade of underinvestment in infrastructure. Anyone in that field will understand that you then need to invest exponentially. That's why we put together a historic plan of more than $180 billion to address issues that Canadians watching us would understand. When we're talking about public transit, for example, I think the people who live in urban areas in our country would understand that it was about time we made these historic investments to allow people greater fluidity.
In terms of the big picture, as I always tell my colleagues, infrastructure is key in our country. Modern, resilient green infrastructure will help us attract investment and talent. For me, when we invest in infrastructure, we invest in not only our current prosperity but future prosperity. In terms of our plan, we asked ourselves this: What is one of the biggest challenges we have to tackle as human beings? It's climate change, so when we're building infrastructure, people are watching us. We understand that we cannot do things today the way we did them in 1980. We need to build in a way that will be resilient but also green. Canadians expect this when we are investing in this.
I can give you the example of Saanich. I was in B.C. recently at the Commonwealth pool. They decided to change from fossil fuels to biomass. By doing so, they reduced their energy costs by 90%. That's the type of project we want in communities. You're improving lives and at the same time you're reducing your carbon footprint.
When I think about social infrastructure, as the member from Trois-Rivières was saying before, this is also about making sure.... You know, infrastructure means different things to different people. If you're in an urban area, you may think about a bridge or a road. If you are in a rural community, you may think about a community centre or broadband access. You may think about cellphone coverage. I come from a riding where about half the riding has no cellphone coverage and no Internet coverage.
Obviously, when you talk about infrastructure, it touches the lives of people. When we talk about rural and northern communities and the way we structure it, to the member's point, I can provide another example of why we have a stream that is very specific to rural and northern areas. When I was in Saskatchewan recently, people were telling me that if we gave them the funds to increase, for example, the length of the runway about 200 metres or 300 metres, they could land bigger planes, reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the fewer planes needed, and reduce the price of food by about 50% in northern communities.
That's why we have projects that are tailored to the needs of Canadians across the country.
Totally. As I've said before, the Infrastructure Bank of Canada is there to do more for Canadians. I'm the former trade minister for Canada, and I can tell you that people in the world want to invest in Canada. Why? We have stability, predictability, rule of law and a very inclusive society that cherishes diversity. People want to invest in Canada to help us build the infrastructure that Canadians need.
Exactly as my colleague said, Madam Chair, that's why we created the Infrastructure Bank. It's just like in Australia, for example, where they created a vehicle to make sure they would have a pipeline of projects where they could crowd in the investment. By crowding in the investment, we can free capital to invest in the types of assets that governments need to invest in and that we know the private sectors will not invest in. It frees up capital to do more. The REM is a good example of where you're better to take a loan from the Infrastructure Bank to do that project and free up capital for us to invest in other projects—for example, in this case, in the province of Quebec under the allocation—where we don't want the private sector to invest.
This is really, truly another tool in our tool box. I'm not suggesting in front of members that this will solve every problem. What I'm saying to Canadians is that it's great to have another tool in our tool box. We're in 2018. Modern countries are looking at different ways to provide infrastructure. We know that in OECD countries there's a huge deficit in infrastructure. Every time we invest in infrastructure, we're giving ourselves the means of our dreams. We can attract better investment. We can attract talent. We know that we are facing labour shortages across Canada. We also know that people move to places where you have modern infrastructure, where you have quality of water, where you can have mobility, where you can have community centres, and where you can have green buildings.
First, Madam Chair, may I thank my colleague Mr. Iacono for that question.
Yes, I was in Montreal recently, in October, to inform the people of Montreal and Quebec about the Champlain Bridge situation.
I explained that the bridge structure would be complete by December 21 at the latest, but that the bridge would open permanently for vehicle traffic in June 2019. The reason is that some work, such as waterproofing the structure and applying asphalt, cannot be done in winter conditions. The waterproofing, for example requires a certain level of humidity and temperature for three consecutive days.
I have always told Montrealers that my priority is the health and safety of the workers. Sixteen hundred people work on that site around the clock, rain or shine.
The project's durability is another priority. This structure is built to be in service for the next 125 years. Clearly, therefore, we want to make sure that the work is done well.
The matter of the timeline is also essential. I have told Montrealers that, if there are deficiencies and delays, there will be consequences. That is the way the contract with the builder is structured.
Mr. Iacono, I can tell you that I will continue to provide Montrealers with information on the exact status, because the infrastructure is important.
More than 60 million people use that corridor each year. If I recall correctly, the value of the goods shipped to the United States over the bridge is more than $20 billion. The corridor is therefore essential.
As I have always been transparent and open with people, I believe that Montrealers fully understood the situation.
That somewhat goes back to the question from our colleague, the member for Trois-Rivières.
In the bilateral agreements we have with the provinces, there is a component for rural and northern communities.
The reason why we created a specific program is that we are aware that rural communities, for example, have specific needs.
We also departed from the traditional three-way sharing of the funding between municipalities, provinces and the federal government that was in effect in the past.
For example, if a project is eligible for the infrastructure program for rural and northern communities, and if the local population is under 5,000, the federal government could provide up to 60% of the funding for the infrastructure, the province could assume 33% of the costs, and the community would pay the remaining 7%.
That allows things to be done that would be otherwise difficult to do, given the municipalities' tax base. The program can greatly help small communities in Canada, both in Quebec and in the west, in Alberta, for example. It is one of the programs in which the government has invested $2 billion, specifically for small communities.
Thank you for your question, Mr. Iacono.
At the last federal-provincial-territorial meeting, I raised three issues.
First, we had to make sure that our respective processes, federally, provincially and territorially, align with the construction season. Given that the construction season will not change—it is the same each year—it is up to us to plan our projects so that the workers can do their part during each construction season.
Second, we had to see how we could establish a process to make projects easier to call for, to study, and, of course, to approve. That means we have to work in concert with the provinces and territories to come up with a review process for the easiest and quickest projects.
Third, we had to make sure, as Mr. Iacono mentioned, that we have a billing process that takes into account how projects are moving forward. In some cases, provinces send us invoices when projects are complete.
That is in line with what my colleague Mr. Jeneroux asked me earlier about the impact of the projects. I can give you an example.
The Prime Minister and I went to visit the site at the Côte-Vertu metro station in Montreal. This is a major project for an underground garage for metro cars. I saw about 200 to 300 workers there. I am not an engineer, but I would say that the project is about 70 or 76% complete. The work has been going on for several years. The impact on the economy, the workers and the community is clear to see. However, up to now, the federal government has not spent one dollar on the project, because we have not received any invoices.
So we are trying to come to an agreement with the provinces so that they send us invoices as the projects move along. The federal government can then release the money gradually.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My greetings to my right honourable colleague, the Minister of Infrastructure. Our constituencies are also adjacent.
So I would like to agree with Mr. Aubin in saying that there is unanimity on the HFT, the high frequency train project in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, while expressing the hope that service to Portneuf will not be forgotten.
Mr. Minister, earlier you provide an update on the Champlain Bridge. I believe that the Champlain Bridge is really important, and that the people of Montreal, and all Quebecers, look forward to being able to take advantage of that infrastructure.
On November 14, I wrote to you for clearer information and an update on the project. The questions that seem to me very important deal with the costs. Will there be additional costs? Will the penalties for which the consortium is liable be maintained and imposed? What changes have occurred as the process moves to completion?
Just now, you said that they need three days of good temperatures so that the workers, who are working seven days a week, can finish their work properly. This summer has been great for our workers, I feel, and we cannot blame the temperature for the delays. Let's understand that the crane operators’ strike lasted six days.
Initially, the bridge was supposed to be open to traffic on December 1. That date was pushed back to December 21, and now the opening has been postponed until the end of June 2019.
Will you make the commitment, before the committee this morning, that Montrealers will be able to use their infrastructure after a perhaps-justified six-month delay? That's the information I would like.
Will you make the commitment that, at the end of June 2019, just before the federal election campaign, the people of Montreal and Quebec will be able to use the infrastructure?
First, I would like to thank my colleague, Mr. Godin, who is also my riding neighbour, with whom I share a large part of the territory.
I am pleased to talk about the Champlain Bridge and to answer all of my colleague's questions, as I did last time when I provided an update in Montreal.
It is important to note that the Champlain Bridge is one of the largest construction sites in North America, so it is a major project. As the member mentioned, there are more than 1,600 workers working around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In terms of costs, I have always said that, if there are delays, there will be consequences. In conjunction with the announcements I made in Montreal last time, there are currently commercial discussions between the contractor and the Government of Canada.
When the builder informed us, a few weeks before my announcement in Montreal, that it was impossible to do some of the work, I asked for second opinions. I received confirmation that, to do some of the work, a constant temperature and humidity level for three days was required. It is important to understand that the work is being done over the St. Lawrence River.
I would like to remind my colleague that my priority is always the health and safety of the workers. None of the measures we have taken should jeopardize the health and safety of workers.
The durability of the work is another important factor. The bridge is expected to last more than 125 years. We do not want to make any compromises that could affect the durability of the work.
Finally, there is the timeline for the construction of the bridge. I told Montrealers and I am pleased to repeat it to the committee today: the bridge structure will be completed before December 21. I will cross the bridge before December 21 to demonstrate to Montrealers that the structure is complete. Anyway, people can see the progress of the work on satellite photos. However, the bridge will be permanently open to traffic later in June—
I'd like to thank the member. I realize we have a lot of colleagues with a municipal background and that's good.
One of the things we have done is to work with FCM very closely in understanding the needs of municipalities.
As Mr. Rogers knows, I come from a riding that has 34 small municipalities as well, so I really understand the need. That's why I was saying that infrastructure means different things to different people. If you're in an urban area, like in the question before, I can talk about Montreal and the Champlain Bridge, or I can talk about things happening in B.C. or in Alberta in Calgary or Edmonton, but obviously when you're talking, for example, about Newfoundland and Labrador and smaller communities, that's why we tailored part of our program. The $33 billion and the agreements, the integrated bilateral agreements, have a component that deals with rural and northern communities.
The reason was that we understood that for smaller communities you needed more flexibility, that in smaller communities sometimes what would be needed, for example, could be an Internet connection to change the lives of people.
I am very happy to be engaging. I was just, for example, in the province next to yours, in New Brunswick, and I met, for example, I think 30 small municipality mayors. I did the same thing in Alberta the last time I was there. I think it's the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
I like to do that because, first of all, it's about providing information. Second, it's about engaging with them about their needs and, third, I would say, it's about making sure that our programs are tailored to fit the purposes of small communities.
Madam Chair, I'd like to thank my colleague, Mr. Rogers, because that's something dear to my heart. As I said before, I feel exactly the same as him. A good part of my own riding is not connected with either cellphone or Internet. I'm happy to advocate for him and with him on that very important issue.
The rural and community stream under our program is providing some elements of response to that. We have been able under the program to tailor the rules to be able to finance part of that. However, I would say, Madam Chair, this is only part of the answer.
I think that the connect to innovate program, under , has been very important with the $500 million that was set aside to start connecting Canada. I think that people understand today that Internet connectivity is a bit like electricity in the old days, where this is allowing people to, for example, have remote education, remote learning, or remote medicine, for example, provided in their communities.
I understand the member and I can assure him that I'm on the same page as him. We would like to work with you to make sure that we can do more for communities across Canada with respect to the Internet.
I'm very happy. I think what you see this morning is that there are projects in every community around this table. Canadians watching us at home would feel exactly the same. We have more than 4,400 projects ongoing in the country. Obviously, each and every one of them is improving the quality of life of people.
The first project I announced, to give you an example, was in a community close to my hometown. It was about $10,000. I remember people were asking me, “Minister, why would you make an announcement of $10,000?” I said, “It's because a small amount in a small community can make a big difference.” The example you give is that you have one in your riding. I could go around the table because I have a list of projects in every riding represented around this table.
The green infrastructure, for me, is one of the most important ones. You're talking about waste-water treatment.
Many of these projects may not be visible to Canadians because they will be upgrading stations—for example, pumping stations like in Trois-Rivières—or other things. If Canadians want to know what kinds of projects they have in their communities, we have provided what we call the geo-map. If people go to Infrastructure Canada's website, they'll be able to zoom in on a map. We have tried to provide transparency to Canadians, so that they can see in their communities the types of projects that have been funded and their states of completion. Sometimes we can even provide pictures, so that people can relate to what we're doing. We're going to continue to do that because I think it's important that Canadians realize that these projects, in different ways—whether it's about water, whether it's about public transit, whether it's about extending a runway in a community—are making a difference in their lives.
Good morning, Madam Chair, members of the committee. Thank you for inviting Helios to appear before you today.
Helios is a U.K. aviation consultancy working for clients around the world and across the whole of the aviation industry. I lead the airport consultancy business within Helios and have 26 years of aviation experience. Helios is currently contracted to provide independent technical analysis and support to the GTAA as they move forward in the delivery of their latest five-year noise management action plan.
Over the past two and a half years, Helios has completed one study for Nav Canada, two for the GTAA, and one for Aéroports de Montréal. I have submitted four reference documents ahead of today, of which the first two were written by Helios. I'll come on to explain each of those documents.
The first one is the “Independent Toronto Airspace Noise Review”, prepared for Nav Canada, which provides noise mitigation recommendations and conclusions focused on the Toronto airspace, as well as a lot of informative background information.
The second document is “Best practices in noise management”, which was prepared for the GTAA and provides an excellent overview of 11 different noise management practices across 26 international airports that are comparative to Toronto Pearson.
The third document is an analysis paper prepared by the Airports Council International and published earlier this week, addressing the future of aviation noise. This was prepared in response to the recent release by the World Health Organization on their latest environmental noise guidelines.
The final document that I've submitted is a paper from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The paper concludes that the data used by the World Health Organization and the analysis conducted in establishing the relationship between aviation noise and annoyance has, in the author's words, had “a huge impact on the final recommendations”. The author goes on to conclude that the recommended noise level to avoid adverse health impacts from aviation noise should be eight decibels higher than those proposed by the World Health Organization. An eight-decibel increase is substantial. It is generally accepted that the human ear perceives a 100% increase in volume for every 10-decibel increase.
Aviation noise management is a complex, multi-faceted topic, and I'm going to have a chance to only make a microscope dent in it today.
Helios finds the same aviation noise complaints and challenges everywhere we go. However, the solutions differ, because the urban, social, geographic, political, regulatory and operational environments are never the same.
I must apologize, for I am about to make a generalization. It is the aircraft that makes the noise, yet time and again, the party not present at public meetings, and generally the last at the table, are the airlines. Meaningful progress is only possible if all stakeholders are present at the table on a voluntary basis, work corroboratively, are prepared to give and take, make tough decisions and are committed to the objectives of delivering noise reduction and mitigation.
Moving noise from community A to community B on a long-term or permanent basis for no other reason than to pacify community A is not a solution. It is only likely to inflate the problem exponentially. The short-term relocation of noise on a predictable and regular basis, often referred to as “noise sharing” or “noise respite”, can be a valuable mitigation in some situations. Many airports have worked for decades and invested millions of dollars to reduce or mitigate noise, yet they still have a large number of residents who are not satisfied. This does not mean that we should not continue to try, as major improvements have been made and there is more that can be achieved in the weeks, months and years ahead.
One of the common questions raised by this committee is about what national standards there are to protect people from aviation noise. As far as I'm aware, there are two in Canada.
The first is set by Transport Canada and requires airports to prepare a noise exposure forecast, which is used to inform urban zoning strategies. The acoustician, Dr. Colin Novak, spoke about some of the challenges with using the NEF metric. I suspect, based on trends elsewhere in the world, that public tolerance of aviation noise has reduced since the NEF 25 and NEF 30 levels were set by Transport Canada, and I offer that the majority of noise complaints come from people outside of the geographic areas enclosed by these NEF contours.
The second standard is the aircraft noise certification requirements specified by ICAO, which have become more stringent with each generation of aircraft, meaning that aircraft have become quieter. Aircraft remain in active service for 30-plus years, so it can take a long time for noisier aircraft to be retired.
I would like to provide an element of perspective on what flights are in the night at Toronto Pearson. An analysis being undertaken by Helios Technology Ltd. for the GTAA shows that over 80% of night flights are passenger services, with the remainder being cargo, at 10% to 15%, or general and/or business aviation.
Night flights account for 3% of all flights at Toronto Pearson. Airports and community groups argue about whether the number of noise complaints recorded is an accurate indication of the scale of the problem. I counsel that you look at complaints as only one piece of the wider evaluation as to the scale of aviation noise as a problem. There are many factors that mean you cannot directly compare the number of complaints between airports. Identifying the percentage of new complaints each year can be an informative metric, but again, it should never be considered in isolation.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My thanks to the witnesses for joining us.
Madam Chair, before I ask questions, I would like to make a comment for your consideration.
In his opening remarks, the witness referred to four documents he had submitted. However, I have learned that those documents are currently being translated. Because of their volume, they are not available in French.
When we plan our list of witnesses, we should ensure that witnesses only appear once the documents are distributed to everyone in both languages. If I had had all the documents in French, my preparation and my questions would have been significantly different. I probably would have found the answers to my questions in the documents and could have probed further. However, that's impossible.
Could we ensure that we receive the documents in both official languages before hearing the witnesses in committee? It would be much appreciated. I leave that for your consideration, Madam Chair.
I will now turn to you, Mr. Boud. You have already answered one of my questions in your opening remarks. You said that it seemed difficult to apply the conclusions of Helios' report for Toronto Pearson International Airport to each of the airports. There must still be some features that apply to all the airports you have studied.
Would it be fair to say that there can be two types of recommendations: recommendations for all the airports that are experiencing the same problem related to the surrounding communities and recommendations specific to each of the airports?
Mr. Boud, thank you for joining us today. You and I have met on several occasions. You know I represent a riding, Etobicoke—Lakeshore, that is very much affected by air traffic noise and volume at Pearson Airport, so it's an issue close to my constituents' hearts.
You've been commissioned previously to do a study for both NavCan and the GTAA, and in the course of doing those studies, you reviewed what's referred to as ideas five and six, which very generally, from a high level—no pun intended—dealt with the direction of traffic on a regular basis. My constituents were concerned about redirecting traffic flow from east-west to north-south and the conclusion from your studies and the decision reached by the GTAA was that they weren't going to increase the north-south air traffic.
I have that right so far, haven't I?
Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to use the two minutes allotted to me just to clarify my intent from the previous witness and the point of order. It certainly wasn't my intention to challenge the chair. I appreciate all that you do in terms of the good nature of our committee. I feel that we work quite well together for the majority of the time.
However, I think it's important that we on this side are able to continue to ask the questions. You in your role don't need to be protective of the minister in any form or fashion whatsoever.
I just want to read into the record a brief quote from page 1078 in chapter 20 of practices, policies and procedures:
There are no specific rules governing the nature of questions which may be put to witnesses appearing before committees, beyond the general requirement of relevance to the issue before the committee. Witnesses must answer all questions which the committee puts [before] them.
It states further:
The actions of a witness who refuses to answer questions may be reported to the House.
Again, I want to make sure that this committee continues to work together. I know that you had a piece of paper in front of you ready to quote the order you referred to. However, again, I would hate to see us come back in the new year and not remain in the friendly fashion that we've continued up to this point.
I just leave those comments there, Madam Chair, in further clarifying my point of order. Thank you.