Thank you for the kind introduction, Mr. Chair. It will be my pleasure to come as often as possible.
Thank you for inviting me to appear today.
I am joined by a number of officials from the Department of Environment and Climate Change. Christine Hogan is deputy minister, and Paul Halucha is associate deputy minister. Linda Drainville is assistant deputy minister, corporate services and finance branch.
Terence Hubbard is president of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
From Parks Canada, Andrew Campbell is senior vice-president of operations, and Catherine Blanchard is CFO.
I would like to recognize that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
As you said, Mr. Chair, this is my first meeting with you as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. I have been looking forward to having this conversation with all of you on the amounts requested for Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Parks Canada Agency and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada in the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (C). As many of you know, the supplementary estimates (C) is the last opportunity for departments and agencies to adjust their 2021-22 main estimates.
Like you, I view the responsibilities under my portfolio as amongst the most critical. We understand that the health and well-being of Canadians depends on a healthy environment and economy. Ambitious commitments have never been more timely and more critical than now.
For this reason, my mandate commits me to ensuring delivery of Canada's strengthened climate plan; implementing the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act; bringing forward an emissions reduction plan to achieve our 2030 targets by reducing emissions to 40% to 45% below 2005 levels; and further accelerating climate action to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and limit the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5°C.
Since 2016, the Government has committed more than $100 billion to climate action and environmental protection, including $60 billion under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Investing in Canada Plan and more; $15 billion under the Strengthened Climate Plan; $15 billion under Budget 2021; and $20 billion via other initiatives, like the Covid-19 Economic Response Plan, permanent transit funding and more.
We’re not just mitigating emissions. We are working towards a whole of society approach to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
We are also protecting and conserving the natural habitats essential to biodiversity. The goal is to conserve one quarter of Canada's lands and inland waters and one quarter of Canada's oceans by 2025 and to raise that to 30 per cent by 2030.
My department is also working hard to address pollution, ensure that our water remains clean and healthy and continue to provide reliable weather forecasts. The agencies in my portfolio are also conducting impact assessments and helping to ensure Canadians have access to nature and historic sites.
All of this work, and more, is foundational to creating the conditions to ensure a more resilient, equitable and prosperous Canada.
In addition, it is supported by the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (C) that are before us today.
For Environment and Climate Change Canada, the department’s submission amounts to a net increase of $48.6 million. This would bring the department's total authorities to $2 billion.
The major funding request includes $9.8 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and waste sectors. This funding will go toward strengthening and implementing greenhouse gas emissions regulations and zero-emission requirements. It will also help us to develop, implement and enforce federal landfill methane regulations, as well as additional steps to support food diversion and energy recovery from biodegradable waste.
There is a request for $7.3 million to help return proceeds from the output-based pricing system to the originating jurisdictions, as required by the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. These funds would go toward operating a program to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions and support clean electricity projects.
A portion of this request would support co-development work with indigenous recipients to return a portion of proceeds from the regulatory charge on fossil fuels, known as the fuel charge, in jurisdictions where the federal backstop approach is in effect, namely Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. These funds will provide long-term, flexible support for indigenous-led climate initiatives.
There is also $7.9 million to establish the Canada water agency transition office. I know you have heard of the Canada water agency. It will work with provinces and territories, indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and other stakeholders to find the best ways to ensure that our water remains clean, healthy and well managed. The transition office will define the scope of the Canada water agency, prepare the agency and ensure its establishment.
As members know, no nation can achieve the much needed transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and nature-friendly economy on its own. We all need to be engaged. The request for $6.5 million to implement Canada's International Climate Finance Program aims to help developing countries achieve this transition.
I am sure all members are also well aware of the record breaking heatwaves and flooding out west this year. There is just over $3.2 million to support wildfire and flood resilience. These funds would help produce floodplain data and maps for communities across Canada most at risk of flooding. They would also support flood prevention, mitigation and response, and planning activities.
Mr. Chair, you may have heard of the climate lens. It aims to help integrate climate, economic and social considerations into government decision-making. These estimates include $1.9 million to establish and operate a climate lens centre of expertise and help a core group of departments pilot and implement the climate lens.
These are some of the highlights of the supplementary estimates (C) for Environment and Climate Change Canada. There are also several transfers in and out of the department, as well as reallocations and grants, which members can ask about today.
Let’s now turn to the Parks Canada Agency.
Through the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (C), the Agency is seeking to increase its reference levels by $14.8 million. This includes $7.5 million to help strengthen operational capacity to prevent and respond to wildfires in Parks Canada administered protected areas, such as protecting the safety of visitors, built facilities, and natural and cultural assets.
Parks Canada is advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples in many ways.
There is $2.1 million to increase resources and capacity for the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror national historic site. This is a tremendous opportunity for Parks Canada and Inuit to work together on one of the largest, most complex archaeological initiatives in Canada's history.
There is also $1.5 million to support a more proactive and timely approach to indigenous negotiations to implement rights, while reducing litigation risks, building partnerships and advancing mutual priorities.
There is a request for a grant of up to $1.75 million to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to fulfill the agency's commitment to establish the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve. There's also $400,000 to advance reconciliation with the Innu of Labrador and pursue the work of an impacts and benefits agreement for the co-operative management of the Akami-Uapishkᵁ-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve. Another $250,000 will enable the ratification of an Inuit impacts and benefits agreement with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association for national historic sites in the Nunavut settlement area, including the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror national historic site.
In addition, there is a request for $1 million to promote the visitation to and protection of Parks Canada-administered heritage places and support safe and sustainable tourism recovery. There is also a request for transfers with other government departments that total about $400,000.
I would now like to turn to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
The Agency is responsible for conducting impact assessments under the Impact Assessment Act, which came into force in August 2019. The Agency reviews major projects in Canada for sustainability by considering environmental, economic, social, and health impacts of proposed projects over the long term.
The Agency is also responsible for ongoing assessments initiated under the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which came into force in 2012.
If approved, the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (C) will raise the agency's total approved spending from almost $82 million to about $82.8 million. This includes a $1-million transfer from Environment and Climate Change Canada, largely to support the agency’s work to administer funding for the regional information and monitoring network, part of the Ottawa River watershed initiative led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. It also includes a transfer of $155,000 to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to contribute to grants that will ultimately support the new impact assessment system.
Before I end, I want to emphasize that I value your commitment and contribution to ensuring the health and well-being of our environment and economy and of all Canadians.
I am looking forward to working with you.
I am happy to take your questions now.
I want to say thank you to the witnesses for being here today. I see a few familiar faces.
I was a little disappointed, Mr. Chair. I didn't have a chance to ask my questions of the minister, but I'm sure the officials will be able to give me some good answers.
Like my colleague, I wanted to talk about a few things that are important to my local riding. One is the canal system, and the other is the automotive sector, coming from Oshawa. I was a little disappointed to hear the minister. I guess he can get around in his government-provided car, but most people in my community need a car. They commute back and forth to work. When the government moves towards an electric mandate, what's really important is the infrastructure. We heard from the minister that there is something going on there.
As many of you know, we manufacture cars in Oshawa. The automotive industry is asking what the plan is to eliminate unnecessary regulatory and trade barriers between Canada and some of our competitors, particularly the United States. When they make investments in Canada, they're looking 10 years down the road, and they want to make sure there's no uncertainty there.
Could you please answer what the plan is to eliminate these unnecessary regulatory and trade barriers, particularly between Canada and the United States, and could you frame it around a competitiveness lens? We were working toward a convergence of regulations, and now we're seeing many regulations differ between Canada and the United States. That will affect our competitiveness and our ability to attract that new investment.
It's a pleasure to see Mr. Carrie again.
There are a couple of things. The transition to electric vehicles is critical for the environment. It's also critical for the auto sector, as you well know. Competition is at the core of investments that the government is making, so and Innovation, Science and Economic Development have been working in close partnership with provincial governments—Ontario in particular—to support the assembly plants as they have been making commitments to transition their facilities in Canada to manufacturing electric vehicles.
In addition, we're looking to capture the greater supply chain. We have a strong strategic advantage around critical minerals and getting those supply chains in Canada, and linking that into the assembly is a critical part.
We have two government-wide policy objectives here. The first is the transition and the reduction of the emissions from the sector. Equally important is the retention and even strengthening of our assembly plant mandates in Canada, and continuing to ensure that they can provide the strong, well-paying jobs that they currently do. That transition is really critical.
The minister has talked about the partnerships with oil and gas executives, and the fact that he's been meeting with them. We are also meeting with executives in the auto sector.
On the point of regulatory coherence, I'll note that we are in alignment with the U.S. The North American standards continue to be absolutely critical to competitiveness for other reasons, as you well know, sir, in terms of our ability to continue to attract mandates and to secure them. We have a very close eye on ensuring that the CAFE standards and the air quality emissions have alignment between the two jurisdictions.