The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill , as reported (with amendment) from the committee.
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise again with some pride to speak to my Bill .
I would first like to thank the members of the natural resources standing committee for their co-operation in the review of this bill. I have seen how a lot of committees work in this place, I have sat in on quite a number of them, and of all of them, the natural resources committee seems to get the job done with good humour and respect. I thank the chair and the members for that atmosphere of collegiality.
I would also like to thank the and the who worked with me in good faith on this file. I trust that support will continue as the bill continues through Parliament to become law.
I will start with a little refresher on what the bill is all about. Its full title is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, use of wood. As the title suggests, it deals with the use of wood in government infrastructure projects. At its heart, it is meant to promote the use of wood in those projects, much as the British Columbia Wood First Act and the Quebec Charte du bois.
The bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, specifically adding a clause after clause 7.1, the clause that sets out some of the minister's powers and responsibilities.
After careful study in natural resources committee, the additional clause specified in Bill was amended to read as follows:
In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.
This amendment effectively deals with many of the concerns some had with the first version of the bill around exposure to foreign trade actions and to concerns that the bill picked winners and losers, favouring wood over other materials such as concrete and steel. I personally did not believe the first version of the bill had those concerns, but I am happy this amendment has effectively dealt with that.
I would like to turn now to some of the testimony we heard in committee about the bill. I will start with comments from the forest industry, and I will first go to comments from Derek Nighbor, who is with the Forest Products Association of Canada.
Before committee, Mr. Nighbor stated in part:
We support fully and expect that thorough life-cycle assessments will and should rule the day when it comes to the evaluation of materials in procurement decision-making....I think the profile that he's given...about ensuring that wood is thought about early in the process, to us is the spirit of the bill. That's why we would support it.
Michael Giroux of the Canadian Wood Council, in discussions around national building codes and public works purchasing practices, said:
At the end, the solution is to update those practices to make them product neutral and greenhouse gas savvy or, as Bill C-354 suggests, to force Public Works, through an act or policy, to consider wood use with that carbon metric. In this way, the federal government can catch up to B.C.'s Wood First Act or Quebec's Charte du bois...Often it is asked whether Bill C-354 picks sides. Really, this is a Public Works real properties act or policy and in the end, should wood not be treated or considered equally? It is a structural material much like concrete or steel and should be considered equally.
The spirit of this bill causes that to happen. Our experience with the private sector is that builders love a third choice. If nothing else, it forces everybody to sharpen their pencils and you get better value for your investments. That's a terrific acknowledgement right there.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the models for the bill is the B.C. Wood First Act. In committee, I asked Michael Loseth, who is the president of Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd., about how that legislation had changed the use of wood in British Columbia. He said, in part:
In my experience in British Columbia, there were a number of unintended impediments that we identified after the Wood First Act was put into place [and] I can give you an example....The Ministry of Education started to look at what building products were being used in B.C. schools. They found there was a lot of concrete and brick and steel and such, so they started to ask the question, why aren't we seeing more wood buildings?...Building codes allow for the vast majority of school types, and the size and shape and what have you, but it wasn't happening. It wasn't until the ministry was forced to go back and really start to peel it back that they identified their costing models and the project planning systems that they had with the individual school districts were all developed and based on building a concrete school.
I will stop quoting there and say, in parenthesis, that one of the schools I went to in Penticton when I was a kid, Princess Margaret junior high, was torn down and rebuilt recently. It is a very brutal concrete building, and I can see where that might have come from.
I will get back to what Mr. Loseth said. He stated:
When those school districts went through the process and provided all the required information back to the Ministry of Education, of course, more often than not they fell back to the concrete buildings, which was how the system had all been designed and set up. It wasn't until they started to change that and opened it up to be far more product-agnostic, and to look at wood to see where wood was being unnecessarily excluded from the process, that it changed.
Now we're starting to see a far better balance. Not every school in British Columbia is 100% built with wood, but there are more that are being built with wood, and those unintended impediments that existed in the system are being dealt with.
I now will go on to the Quebec experience with la Charte du bois. Mr. Gérald Beaulieu, from the Quebec Forest Industry Council, spoke about the benefits that had flowed from that policy. This is some of Mr. Beaulieu's testimony. He stated:
The Wood Charter states that, in every project financed by public funds, the project manager must consider the possibility of using wood. It does not say that wood must be used, but that it must be considered as a building material. A few days ago, Minister Blanchette confirmed that more than 54% of the 188 projects identified had incorporated wood in the final design....
The provisions in the bill foresee the implementation of life cycle analyses into procurement policies, and that is analyses that consider the environmental costs of different materials throughout the entire process. Therefore, for wood materials, we would consider, for instance, the carbon footprint through harvesting, transportation, construction, as well as the carbon storage in the built infrastructure. These life-cycle analyses are already done in many situations around the world.
Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is one of the agencies that worked on those analyses. Jennifer O'Connor, the president of that company, testified:
You'd want to be sure you had a robust, fair, and transparent system for doing the accounting, with stakeholder buy-in for credibility and acceptance....The point I'd like to make is that all materials have impact....They're all critical to construction. What is more interesting to us is how we encourage improvements across all those sectors, so that...overall have an improvement and a reduction in environmental impacts....The focus would be on what is the performance target. When we have performance-based objectives, we set the target and we allow ourselves to find our own way there.
Therefore, the target in the case of the bill would be the considerations for greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental benefits.
Adam Auer of the Cement Association of Canada stated:
...the Canadian cement industry unequivocally supports the notion that federal procurement of infrastructure, whether direct or indirect through investment transfers to other levels of government, can and should influence construction markets toward low-carbon and climate-resilient design. We also agree with, and in fact have consistently championed, the use of life-cycle tools as the best tools, although not yet perfected, for advancing sustainability in the built environment.
There are persistent concerns about fire safety when people talk about large wood buildings, but we heard evidence from the National Research Council and others that these concerns are unfounded. NRC has tested fire performance in mass timber buildings and has found that these structures can remain sound for hours and are as safe as or safer than traditional concrete and steel buildings in that regard. The walls char quickly in a fire, and then the fire self-extinguishes. The structure remains sound for three hours or more and there is no appreciable smoke in stairwells, and therefore there is more than adequate time not only for people to exit the building but also for fire crews to fight the fire from within.
I will conclude by saying that I continue to visit mills and plants that use wood from our forests. I recently visited the Structurlam plant in Okanagan Falls once again to hear their plans for expansion. As many have heard, if they have ever listened to me speak about this bill or other things, Structurlam is one of the leading companies in North America in the production and design of engineered wood buildings using glulam beams and cross-laminated timber. It is a real leader in this field in North America and it is one of the reasons I brought forward this bill to champion the leading Canadian companies in North America.
Another example would be Chantiers Chibougamau in Quebec, which does a lot of the same sort of production.
These companies would allow the forest industry to develop another market for their lumber products. Structurlam is considering an expansion. We would have more jobs. More good jobs, well-paying jobs, would be created in Canada.
As Mr. Beaulieu testified, “A cubic metre of wood in a plant's yard is worth about $69, but when it is converted into structural products installed in a building, such as cross-laminated timber, it is worth more than $2,200....”
Our forest sector is facing some challenges, and this is a positive way we can help that sector. A new market could offset losses from protectionist tariffs in the United States, and the value-added mills would ensure that we could create more jobs with a wood supply that is becoming more constrained under the stresses of climate change.
I think Bill is a win-win for Canada, giving us beautiful infrastructure that fights climate change while supporting the forest industry, one of the natural resource sectors that has been at the heart of Canadian prosperity for more than 150 years.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to help close the debate on Bill . I also want to thank the member for for putting forward this legislation. When I joined the natural resources committee just after Christmas, we were in the midst of a study on wood, and of course, it was well timed for his bill to come forward.
Let me be clear. The Government of Canada fully agrees with the spirit and intent of the member's proposed legislation. The proposed legislation aligns well with the government's goals of supporting the Canadian forest industry, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, these goals must be balanced with the government's commitment to a fair, open, and transparent procurement process for all suppliers.
I believe that the amendment to this bill that was passed by the Standing Committee on Natural Resources achieves the balance that we seek. That is why I am encouraging all members to support the bill with our amendment. Let me take this opportunity to explain a little further.
At second reading stage, we had occasion to highlight the importance of Canada's forestry industry. Our forestry industry helped build Canada, and it still makes a significant contribution today. Last year alone, it added $22 billion to our GDP. Forestry plays a leading role in the local economies of the more than 170 rural towns where sawmills, pulp and paper mills and other forestry operations can be found. The industry employs more than 200,000 Canadians and also represents 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities, making it one of the largest employers of indigenous people. This is why initiatives to support Canada's forestry industry like those in Bill deserve our careful attention.
That said, we were concerned that the bill as originally presented by the member for would contradict certain long-standing Government of Canada principles, policies, and obligations and lead to perhaps some unintended consequences. As a point of reference, the proposed bill had stated that the minister “shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”.
The government is committed to fairness, openness, and transparency in the procurement process. These fundamental values of the policies of Public Services and Procurement Canada cannot be deviated from. Although Canadians expect their government to support a sector as important as forestry, they also expect the government to adhere to the basic principle of fairness in its procurement.
Depending on how the legislation is interpreted and enforced, it may well violate Canada's obligations under important trade agreements, such as the Canadian free trade agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Contract spinoffs have the potential to be significant, particularly in a sector that relies so heavily on access to export markets, mainly the U.S.
The Standing Committee on Natural Resources reviewed the bill. I would like to thank my fellow members of that committee as well as the parliamentary secretary for the careful review of the proposed legislation. In fact, we heard many of the same considerations that I have just reiterated.
I am delighted that my colleague, the member for , who sits with me on the committee proposed an amendment so that the legislation would read:
In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieves such benefits.
Ultimately, the committee accepted this amendment and referred the bill back to the House. I believe that the amendment is very important and will help make this legislation more effective and ensure that our shared goal of supporting Canada's forest industry is on a sound footing.
Our discussion on Bill today also provides us the opportunity to reflect on steps the government is taking to help the forestry sector to embrace innovation and continue to be a vital part of our communities and our economy.
For example, the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change promotes federal, provincial, and territorial co-operation in order to encourage the greater use of wood in construction. Building codes will be updated to reflect that.
This will be encouraged in part by work that is under way to investigate the updating of the National Building Code of Canada. Currently, Natural Resources Canada and the National Research Council are conducting innovative research and development with a goal of updating our National Building Code to allow for wood buildings up to 12 storeys. Moreover, wood and wood products are important contributors to the Government of Canada's infrastructure needs.
Public Services and Procurement Canada policy requires contractors to propose materials that meet the needs of a project, including sustainability and performance criteria, and that conform to the National Building Code of Canada.
In fact, Public Services and Procurement Canada alone is spending approximately $160 million a year on average for office fit-ups and interior finishes, of which approximately 15% is directly related to the use of wood products.
I would also like to highlight the important work of Public Services and Procurement Canada in supporting the government's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The department is making government operations more sustainable through green building practices, including the use of sustainable materials, the move toward optimizing our space usage, and lowering the energy consumption of our federal buildings.
Buildings are a significant source of greenhouse gases and contribute 23% of Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions. As we know, the government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal buildings and fleets by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
As providers of accommodation to the Government of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada is in a unique position to have a direct and significant impact on the greening of government operations. It is the first federal department to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio plan that takes into account all real property-related greenhouse gas emissions and energy reduction initiatives that the government has undertaken to reduce greenhouse gases.
Take for example the investment we have made in the energy services acquisition program, through which we are modernizing the heating and cooling system that serves about 80 buildings in Ottawa, including many of the buildings on and around Parliament Hill.
In advance of this modernization effort, we are piloting and testing wood chips for use as a possible biomass fuel. The results of this pilot project will help determine the potential for expanding this option to other federal heating and cooling plants.
Similarly, Public Services and Procurement Canada continues to take an integrated and holistic approach to project design and construction, which includes the use of a variety of sustainable materials, such as wood, while giving environmental, social, and economic factors due consideration.
Its goal is to meet sustainable performance standards, such as leadership in energy and environmental design, commonly referred as LEED, and Green Globes. These performance standards encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available, and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts. Projects involving Government of Canada buildings in Quebec City and Yellowknife are the latest ones to meet those standards.
In closing, Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue to lead the way in embedding environmental considerations, and specifically greenhouse gas reductions, into the design and approval stages of its proposed projects.
Bill , as amended, will also support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support our forestry sector. At the same time, it will support our commitment to an open, fair, and transparent procurement process. In short, the Government of Canada is committed to leaving to future generations of Canadians a sustainable, prosperous country. I would encourage all my colleagues to support this initiative.
I would also like to thank the member for for his work in helping to craft important amendments to his original legislation that both preserve the original spirit and help further our government's plan to help support the forestry sector and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate this evening. It is on an interesting bill that essentially seeks to give preference to the wood industry in federal government construction projects. I commend my NDP colleague on his common sense, well-intentioned bill, but unfortunately, we believe it would promote one industry over another. On the Conservative side, we believe in the free market and prefer not to give one resource a leg up over another.
About seven or eight years ago, there was a big debate in Quebec City around the construction of a new arena, which we know today as the Centre Vidéotron. Among the events held at the centre are the Remparts de Québec hockey games. Apparently, Patrick Roy is going to be the new coach, but we are still waiting for an NHL team. However, that is not what I want to talk about.
There was a big debate in Quebec City about whether the arena would be built out of wood or conventional materials. As I was saying earlier, people have good intentions when they say that since Canada produces lumber, which has the greatest impact on our economy, this would propel the industry into the world market. With greater recognition, we would do better. Products can be made out of both softwood and hardwood, and there would be increases in exports and the quality of wood. People wondered if this new Quebec City arena could be an opportunity to show that we can build large buildings out of wood.
However, people soon realized that the cost, as well as the risk and the time frame, would grow tenfold. The idea was abandoned. I vividly remember Mr. Dutil—he still heads up the Canam Manac empire, a jewel of Canada's economy located in Beauce, home to an MP whom I know quite well and am quite fond of. Beauce's spirit of entrepreneurship is also what drives the free market. Mr. Dutil publicly stated that he did not believe for a minute that any of the 125 members of the National Assembly knew how to build buildings. “Let us do our job; you do yours and we will do ours.” That is why we decided, the members of my party and I, to not interfere in the free market.
That does not mean we oppose forestry. Far from it. About 10 years ago, Quebec City built the Chauveau soccer stadium on Ormière Boulevard, in my riding. It is a very innovative stadium. I go there all the time to attend community activities put on by local organizations. It is in fact a wooden structure. It is amazing and it inspires us. It is a good thing. They did it that way because they needed to. The market was left to decide what building material would work best in the circumstances, and wood won. That does not mean wood was given preferential treatment. It simply means that a decision was made in this case to build the stadium out of wood. Anywhere else, it might have been steel, concrete, aluminum, or any other kind of building material, like brick or glass. Let us leave the market to choose, because any kind of interference on our part would only lead to lawsuits, financial disputes, and public outcry. The reality is that the concrete, aluminum, steel, brick, and glass industries could challenge the decision, and we would be no better off.
We believe in the industry's potential for expansion. That is why, when we were in government, we created the expanding market opportunities program in 2013, at the urging of the Hon. Denis Lebel, who represented Lac-Saint-Jean for 10 years and cared deeply about the development of the forest industry. The goal of the program was not only to expand markets, but to increase investment in companies, in lumber mills, in order to develop new environmentally friendly processes and open up new areas of innovation. The program was also intended to give us a competitive edge over the United States, our partner and major competitor.
Case in point, about two months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. I would remind the House that sadly, the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord have gone without representation in the House of Commons for almost six months now.
It is time for the to call the by-election. In fact, I would like to remind the House that our party has an excellent candidate in the riding, Richard Martel. He has been there for the people in that riding since December, and we certainly hope that Canadians in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord will be able to cast their ballots soon.
As I was saying, I made my way to a small village in that riding that most people had probably never heard of at the time but that later drew the world's attention when Samuel Girard won a gold medal. I am talking about the village of Ferland-et-Boilleau, which has a population of 600. I mention this village because it is home to a forestry co-operative that works with wood, harvests timber, and sells it throughout North America. This co-operative broke new ground by distilling new essential oils from wood. They offered me some, but I purchased them. As pleasant as it is to receive gifts, it is important that MPs support the local economy. I vaporized some at home and it smelled really nice. I felt as though I was in the forest.
In short, we support the lumber industry, but we also support the free market. Innovative products and unknown sectors have yet to be discovered. That is what innovation is all about. If this bill is passed, we believe that it will be challenged in the courts and antagonize people in other areas of the construction industry who will ask why one sector is being favoured over another, and rightly so. People from the concrete, aluminum, steel, glass, and brick sectors will not be happy.
I am sorry to disappoint my colleagues, but that is part of the democratic process. We will not be supporting this bill. We do not think it is a bad idea, but the problems that this bill will create prevent us from supporting it.
Ultimately, we should let the market take its course and let people make their choices. I have confidence in the Canadian wood industry, which is strong and is being led by competent business people who know how to market their products without any direct help from the government, without preferential treatment or a free ride, not to put too fine a point on it. We must let the free market take its course. I am sure that the Canadian wood industry will figure out a way to come out on top, as it has for centuries, without begging anyone for help.
Madam Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to take a moment to say how surprised I am at the member for 's remarks.
His remarks were germane to the debate at second reading stage. The bill has since been amended, clearing up the issues he raised in his speech. I am somewhat surprised, as he is usually so thorough and never cuts corners when studying legislation. To my great surprise, he seems to have failed to understand the nature of the proposed amendments.
Allow me to recap so that everyone understands this bill's history. When it was first introduced, it sought to give preferential treatment to wood and to prioritize its use in federal buildings. It was then referred to a committee, where experts appeared to explain in simple terms that wood did not need preferential treatment and that there was no need to prioritize it over other materials. The problem is that the use of wood is often not even considered. The industry has often said that it does not need preferential treatment and that all it wants is to make sure builders consider wood. The bill was amended accordingly.
For example, architecture students are not even taught that they can use wood or they are given only a few hours of instruction on the subject over the course of the entire program. That is why people do not often think to use wood. We do not even get to where we can consider its potential benefits.
As amended, the legislation will ensure that people know to ask. When building a structure, they will consider the building materials available to them and weigh the environmental benefits of using non traditional materials. If they see that there is a significant advantage to using wood, they may decide to do so.
There is, in fact, no preferential treatment. The market will still be free. Every industry can promote the advantages of its own materials. The wood industry is simply asking us to consider using wood. It is confident that it can convince people to use wood without getting preferential treatment because it knows that its products have a lot to offer in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon capture, on top of having a positive impact on the Canadian construction industry.
We therefore went from a preferential approach, in the first incarnation of the bill, to a comparative approach, whereby markets remain free. No one is being forced. The bill simply states that any potential repercussions on the environment will be considered and taken into account. That is the main difference between the original bill and where we are now. If we only look at what wood has to offer, all its benefits become clear.
I have seen a concrete example of this in my riding. For the longest time, the Long Point First Nation community did not have a school. It was very sad. The children had been attending a school in the next town that was shut down by the school board. The school was in really bad shape. It even had mould. The kids spent years in a makeshift classroom in a gymnasium with no windows. This had serious repercussions on the kids' morale.
The town finally got a new school designed by an architect who had a really incredible vision. The school is in the shape of a beehive. There are hexagons in every part of the school, and it is built entirely out of wood. It is extraordinary. The children are now in a learning environment that motivates them. The atmosphere is completely different. This clearly shows how it is possible to build beautiful buildings out of wood.
It is a really long drive, since the town is quite far away, but if anyone has a chance to come and see the school some day, they will see how amazing it is. It is a perfect example of just how effectively wood can be used.
I think everyone can appreciate a bill like the one my colleague introduced, especially in its current form, with the Liberals' amendment. I know that they worked with my colleague in committee to get everyone to agree on the amendment so that the bill would be acceptable to everyone. In its current form, it is an excellent bill that meets the reasonable demands and needs of the industry. It can have a significant impact on the forestry industry and on the environment, since the use of wood has environmental benefits. Buildings are not built to be destroyed, but when they must be destroyed, those built out of wood have a much smaller environmental impact. Furthermore, they have a lesser impact on the local community and on the surrounding wildlife.
I think that the use of wood is a forward-looking solution. Large buildings can be built quickly and at a lower cost. Wood-construction technologies have evolved quite a bit. What was unthinkable before is now easily achievable. Changes have made it possible to build wood structures that are more than six storeys. Some buildings in my riding were built with a lot of wood, which gives the projects a unique touch. We can be proud of raising awareness of the use of wood in building construction.
The forestry industry has been mismanaged in recent years. In the last Parliament, I moved a motion on a national forestry strategy, and I moved it again during this Parliament because it is still current. Although my colleague's measure is extremely important, if we really want to support the forestry industry, we have to develop several strategies, and the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, along with the industry and the indigenous communities, will have to sit down together.
Together we can come up with all sorts of solutions to find the way forward for our forestry industry, which has a lot to offer. The problem is that we tend to overlook all that it can bring to the Canadian economy, not to mention the various products we use. Sometimes we end up missing out because we failed to consider a particularly interesting option that did not necessarily require preferential treatment to be successful. Sometimes a simple idea can spark the best solution. If no one tell us to determine the viability of a solution, it remains an unexplored idea and we are no further ahead.
I hope that hon. members will consider my colleague's bill. I also hope that the Conservative members will take the time to read the amendment in order to fully understand its scope, since it changes the bill considerably. I also think that it is time for the Conservatives to adapt their speech to the new version.
Lastly, I had the chance to meet the forest committee of the Union des municipalités du Québec. The committee members have a lot of concerns about the forestry sector and I think they deserve to get more support. It is a multi-pronged challenge, especially when it comes to the skills shortage. We have to do better when it comes to the forestry. I invite my colleagues to vote in favour of my colleague's bill.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate this evening on Bill , an act whose spirit and intent are both commendable and easy to support. Indeed, the hon. member for has proposed legislation that reflects our government's own efforts to support and grow Canada's forest sector, efforts that not only acknowledge the forest industry's long-standing importance to the Canadian economy and local communities but also recognize its equally bright future.
While Canada's forest sector has endured more than its fair share of challenges in recent times, from historic fires and devastating infestations to unwarranted duties and tariffs from our neighbours to the south, Canada's forest sector continues to reinvent and transform itself for this clean-growth century. In fact, Canada's forest industry stands out today as one of the most innovative parts of our Canadian economy.
The timing could not be better. The world is at a pivotal moment, a time when climate change is one of the greatest challenges our generation will face and a time when investing in clean technology is the new imperative for a low-carbon economy. Canada's forest industry is central to this.
The has even gone so far as to say that there is no global solution to climate change without the forest sector, and there is a very good reason for that. As we all learned in high school science classes, forests are our planet's lungs. They absorb vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it for decades, which makes the forest industry unique among our resource sectors and creates huge opportunities for wood and wood products and for the mostly rural and indigenous communities that produce them. That is why the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change includes commitments from senior levels of government to promote the greater use of wood in construction projects, including $39.8 million in federal funding over four years to support these efforts. That is why we have also joined with our provincial and territorial partners to endorse a forest bioeconomy framework, a comprehensive approach we have moved quickly to implement as we seek to make Canada a global leader in the use of sustainable biomass to transform our economy.
The challenges of a changing climate also represent an unprecedented opportunity for the forest sector, and our government is doing its part. Here are some quick examples.
Last fall, our government launched the clean growth program, with $155 million for clean-growth technology development and demonstration projects. Importantly, one of the program's five priority areas is advanced materials and bioproducts. The clean growth program will help to accelerate their adoption.
Then there is the green construction through wood program that funds demonstration projects to increase the use of engineered wood in non-traditional construction projects, such as tall buildings, low-rise commercial buildings, and bridges. The program also supports the necessary research that will allow tall buildings as part of the next cycle of the National Building Code of Canada, through collaboration with the National Research Council. This is critical, because previous building code changes have already had an impact on the adoption of wood in construction. In fact, there are currently close to 500 mid-rise wood buildings across Canada that are either completed, under construction, or at the planning stage because of code changes nationally and provincially. This number is also expected to increase significantly in the coming years as familiarity with the building code changes and grows.
These efforts are the result of broad partnerships including forest sector research organizations, academia, industry associations such as the Canadian Wood Council, federal and provincial governments collectively, and municipalities.
We have worked together on research, building codes, material development, education, and outreach to create awareness and knowledge on wood construction. Our government is supporting this move to wood through innovative projects across the country and around the world. At the University of British Columbia, for example, federal funding helped build a new 18-storey student residence that now stands as the tallest hybrid wood building in the world. The magnificent Brock Commons tall wood structure is not only an engineering and architectural showpiece; it is an environmental game changer, storing close to 1,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 1,000 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of removing 511 cars from the road each and every year.
On the other side of the country, we supported the construction of the 13-storey cross-laminated timber condominium building in Quebec City. The Origine project includes a 12-storey mass timber structure on a concrete podium.
As well, we have been taking Canadian ingenuity to the world. There is no better example of that than the new Sino-Canadian low-carbon ecodistrict project in Tianjin, China. It is a $2.5 billion project showcase of Canadian know-how and Canadian lumber to create a sustainable community covering almost two square kilometres.
The first phase of this ecodistrict features 100 wood-framed townhouses incorporating Canadian energy efficiency technologies, which is not just creating new markets but new demand for Canadian wood products. Once completed, the eco-district will serve as a demonstration of how green building materials and technologies can help China realize its goal of ensuring that 50% of new buildings meet green housing standards by 2020. The was in China last June to renew a memorandum of understanding to maintain the momentum this project has generated and enhance Canada's support for green building in China.
As these examples illustrate, the forest sector can continue to play a central role in many of the most important issues of our time, leading environmental performance, driving clean growth and innovation, and advancing indigenous partnerships, turning climate action into a competitive advantage.
These were the motivations and goals behind Bill . We should all support the bill from the member opposite, at least in principle. However, we just cannot put it into practice without some crucial amendments.
As others have pointed out in the House and at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the bill, with the way it was previously worded, was problematic. It raised questions around fairness in procurement. It also had the potential of running contrary to Canada's trade obligations, both at home and abroad. While these concerns are important, they are not impossible to overcome. In fact, I believe that the amendment proposed by the member for and passed by the Committee on Natural Resources resolves this concern quite nicely.
Let me remind the House of the wording of the amendment. It reads:
(1.1) In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieves such benefits.
This amendment would support the Canadian forest sector. It would support other sectors and suppliers. It would ensure fairness, openness, and transparency in the federal procurement process. The bill, as amended, would create good jobs, a stronger economy, and shared prosperity for generations to come. I encourage all members to support this bill as it has been amended.
The hon. member brought forward Bill with passion and vigour on the subject, and I thank him for it. He spoke vigorously about it in committee and convinced us all that this was a worthwhile venture and something we should all be proud of as members of Parliament. It is something all Canadians can be proud of.
Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise to support Bill , which was introduced by my colleague from British Columbia.
I would like to begin by reminding my colleague from , that I think he is looking at the wrong version of the bill. Before it was amended in committee, the first draft of this bill indicated that preference should be given to construction projects that promote the use of wood. That is no longer the case because the experts who appeared before the committee said that the industry did not need a preferential approach. They simply asked that wood be considered as a possibility from the start, because that is not currently common practice in the construction industry.
After hearing from experts, amendments were made in committee, so now the bill favours a comparative approach rather than a preferential one. The bill is short and simple. The summary reads, and I quote:
...that the Minister may, in developing requirements for public works, allow the use of wood or any other thing that achieves environmental benefits.
This refers to the minister of Public Works. The clause simply states:
(1.1) In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefit and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.
This responds to the questions and points raised by the Conservative member who spoke earlier. I think this can help him reconsider his position.
The wood industry has had enough challenges in recent years. Workers from several sectors of the wood industry in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia told us that the government should think about integrating wood in construction. Recent innovations and technologies have made wood a potentially very beneficial material. We want to reduce our carbon footprint, and, in the cycle of life, wood has a very small footprint compared to other materials, such as concrete or steel. Using wood could make it easier to achieve the targets the government set under the Paris Agreement. This would give an economic boost to workers in regions across the country.