I'll start with my opening remarks. I know that Ms. Dzerowicz will make her way in by the time we start hearing from our witnesses.
I call this meeting to order. Welcome to meeting number 60 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. Pursuant to Standing Order 83.1 and the motion adopted on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, the committee is meeting to discuss the pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2023 budget.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of June 23, 2022. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application.
I'd like to make a few comments for the benefit of the witnesses and the members. Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating via video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike. Please mute your mike when you are not speaking. For interpretation, for those on Zoom, you have the choice at the bottom of your screen of English, French, or floor. For those in the room, you can use the earpiece and select the desired channel.
I remind you that all comments should be addressed through the chair. For members in the room, if you wish to speak, please raise your hand. For members on Zoom, please use the “raise hand” function. The clerk and I will manage the speaking order as best we can, and we appreciate your patience and understanding in this regard.
I would now like to welcome our witnesses for this first meeting on pre-budget consultations in advance of budget 2023. From the Canadian Health Coalition, we have Steven Staples, national director of policy and advocacy. From the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, we have Dennis Darby, president and chief executive officer. From the Community Radio Fund of Canada, we have Alex Freedman, executive director. From Electric Mobility Canada, we have Daniel Breton, president and chief executive officer. From the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, we have Beth Potter, president and chief executive officer. From Société d'aide au développement des collectivités et Centre d'aide aux entreprises, we have Pascal Harvey, general manager.
Welcome to all of our witnesses. We will be hearing opening remarks from each of the witnesses for up to five minutes.
We will start with Mr. Staples from the Canadian Health Coalition for five minutes, please.
Thank you, Chairperson and members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
My name is Steven Staples. I am the national director of policy and advocacy for the Canadian Health Coalition.
The Canadian Health Coalition was founded in 1979 to defend and expand public medicare in Canada. We are comprised of frontline health care workers, unions, community groups and experts. I am delighted to speak to you on the topic of the pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2023 federal budget. The aspect that we would like to address today is public health care spending.
Today we would like to make six recommendations to the government through this committee.
One, we need to pass Bill , which includes the dental benefit, and transform the benefit into a robust program for everyone in Canada with universal coverage as soon as possible.
Two, we need to move forward with the Canada pharmacare act by 2023 to provide free coverage for prescribed medicines, funded by $3.5 billion for essential medicines, as recommended by the 2019 government-appointed Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Dr. Eric Hoskins.
Three, we need to increase investments to end the health care human resources crisis, beginning by delivering on the governing party's 2021 election promises to provide $3.2 billion to the provinces and territories for the hiring of 7,500 family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners. In addition, as promised, we need to train up to 50,000 new personal support workers and fund their guaranteed minimum wage of at least $25 per hour.
Four, we need to introduce and pass the safe long-term care act by 2025, which must enforce national standards as well as ensuring patients receive at least four hours of direct care. Additionally, we need to provide funding to promote publicly owned non-profit long-term care facilities while phasing out for-profit investors from the long-term care sector.
Five, we need to work with the provinces and territories to increase federal funding through the Canada health transfer that is accountable while improving outcomes for people in Canada through new public health care programs such as dental care and pharmacare.
Six, we need to enforce the five principles and the conditions of the Canada Health Act to ensure Canadians are not faced with extra billing, user fees and diminished accessibility to health care as some provinces move forward to for-profit care providers, beginning with funding more robust monitoring and sanctioning capacity by the strategic health care policy branch.
That's what we need to do in this budget.
The Canadian Health Coalition has gone on record supporting the terms of the confidence and supply agreement announced by the leaders of the governing Liberals and the NDP in March 2022. The agreement contains four health care commitments by the : public dental care, national universal pharmacare, frontline health care investments and safe long-term care. In return, the government achieves stability through confidence votes with the support of the NDP.
Our chairperson, Pauline Worsfold, who is a frontline nurse in an Edmonton hospital, said, “This agreement has the potential to deliver significant improvements in public health care for patients, families, and frontline workers.” Pollsters tell us that it has widespread public support, with close to six in 10 Canadians being comfortable or somewhat comfortable with the agreement between the Liberals and the NDP.
Already we are seeing the benefits of parliamentary co-operation with Bill and the dental benefit act. It is estimated that 500,000 Canadian children will benefit from the initial targeted investment, and we are encouraged by Minister of Health ' comments that this is an interim measure and that the program will be expanded in the coming years.
We support the Canada Health Act and its principle of universality, and we would like to see public dental care be available for all families, not just those that pass a means test.
I'll reserve the rest of my comments for the discussion. I look forward to your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon.
It's my pleasure to be here on behalf of Canada's 90,000 manufacturers and exporters and our association's 2,500 direct member companies to discuss what we think we need in budget 2023.
To set the stage, manufacturing represents about 10% of Canada's GDP. It produces two-thirds of Canada's value-added exports and employs just over 1.7 million people in good-paying jobs across the country. Since the very beginning of Canada, manufacturing has been the backbone of the Canadian economy, and it certainly drives our prosperity.
We must admit, however, that our industry is grappling with some of the hardest challenges it has ever faced. Chronic labour shortages, ongoing supply chain disruptions, massive looming transitional investments to get to net zero, and trade uncertainty all threaten the very existence of manufacturing and exporting Canada.
Now our members tell us, and our research confirms, that if we do not act now to resolve these challenges, we risk being shut out of the global advanced manufacturing transition that's happening. The pandemic reminded us how vitally important it is to have a strong domestic manufacturing industry, so I want to lay out how we think we should get there.
Number one is that Canada really must implement a national industrial strategy. This is needed to coordinate our efforts and initiatives into one overarching plan. We believe the goal of a national industrial strategy should be to double Canada's take of the OECD manufacturing investment from where it is right now at about 1% relative to our OECD countries to 2%. We call it the 2% challenge. It would bring billions of dollars of investment, moving us from about $25 billion a year—we're one of the laggards in the OECD—to on par, to about $50 billion a year.
Over the years, the government has commissioned experts to draft industrial strategies. Monique Leroux's work is the latest in this line, and that report has our full support. Budget 2023 should really move towards finally implementing that.
Number two is that we need to reduce labour shortages. Pandemic immigration backlogs must be addressed to encourage our government to dedicate all the resources required to do that. We must open up an introduction of a trusted employer stream for the temporary foreign worker program. In time, we need to aggressively—really aggressively—increase our intake targets to about 500,000 a year in the economic stream alone. On the other side of the coin, we have to help employers directly with training and upskilling and by providing them with money through the taxation system. The bottom line is that we need more workers, and we need funds to train them.
Number three is supply chain disruptions. The government's role is that it needs to increase and speed up investments in critical transportation and trade infrastructure. The supply chain task force will be issuing its report soon. We support their work, and we urge swift adoption of their recommendations.
Number four is that we really need to grow business investment and exports. Manufacturers need the federal government to increase incentives for innovation and for investment in the adoption of new technology. We must eliminate gaps in our incentive programs relative to our biggest trading partner, the U.S., specifically America's new Inflation Reduction Act. Extending the accelerated investment incentive is also key to helping manufacturers invest in the growth. With regard to boosting exports, governments should really help by expanding the trade accelerator program and should ensure that our trade import monitoring systems are world-class. Eliminating excessive export permit processing delays, which we've seen in the last few years, is one simple way to achieve that level of excellence.
Number five—and this is a biggie—is that we need to help manufacturers transition to net zero. The government should expand programs like the net-zero accelerator fund. We also need to specifically target SMEs, small and medium-sized companies, and help them with the net transitions by creating the SME net transition strategy. We have a net-zero strategy, and we would be happy to talk about this with the committee in more detail at a future time.
At the end of the day, the CME believes strongly that by addressing these five key areas with targeted investments and support for manufacturers we can ensure that our sector, and by extension all of Canada, prospers for decades to come.
Thank you. I'll wait for any questions.
Thank you for welcoming me today.
Electric Mobility Canada is a national industry association dedicated exclusively to the advancement of electric mobility as a means to combat climate change and air pollution while supporting the Canadian economy.
Electric Mobility Canada has more than 175 members, including electricity providers, manufacturers of light, medium, heavy and off-road vehicles, infrastructure providers, utilities, technology companies, mining companies, research centres, government departments, cities, universities, fleet managers, unions, environmental NGOs and many others.
There are three main reasons to support electric mobility.
According to a 2021 Health Canada report, the economic impact of air pollution is estimated at approximately $120 billion a year, which is roughly 6% of the national gross domestic product. Air pollution causes approximately 15,300 deaths per year, which is eight times the death toll of car accidents. A significant portion of that comes from transportation.
According to a 2019 report from the International Energy Agency, Canada's light-duty vehicle fleet is the worst performer in the world in terms of GHG emissions and fuel consumption per kilometre driven. They are also the largest and second-heaviest in the world.
According to a 2019 report from Clean Energy Canada there will be approximately 560,000 clean jobs by 2030 in Canada, with almost 50% in clean transportation.
According to a 2020 report from EMC, from us, if Canada adopts a strong electric mobility strategy inspired by those of California, B.C. and Quebec, we can anticipate at least $200 billion in sales revenue between now and 2030.
Since 2019, the Canadian government has accelerated investment in the EV industry in order to create high-paying, sustainable jobs for Canadians while decarbonizing its economy. Just in the past six months, federal and provincial governments have secured more than $15 billion in investments and tens of thousands of jobs. That's great news, because all this work will most probably end up saving the automotive sector in Canada. Yet, more work needs to be done.
According to an Ernst & Young report published earlier this year, while Canada's been increasing its support for the transition to EVs, other countries are moving faster. This means that Canada dropped from eighth place last year to 13th place in this year's EY report.
According to an RBC report published just a few days ago, “in Canada, we've lagged since 2014, when spending on clean technologies fell sharply. Though we've made up some ground in the last few years”—as I mentioned—“the pace of spending is still about half that of other major economies. China leads the pack, spending about 1.5% of GDP on green investment each year. In some key industries, it's the undisputed global leader.”
The U.S., Australia and Japan are further behind, but a major shift is coming south of the border. The recently passed U.S. Inflation Reduction Act will pump $370 billion into clean investment and leverage additional money from the private sector.
Canada will need to adjust its policies or risk falling even further behind major economies. After a decade of investment we're still not spending enough on clean electricity, which needs about a $200-billion investment by 2035 to meet current green grid goals, and more thereafter to accommodate rapid growth in electricity demand.
That said, we're much closer to spending enough on green electricity than any other sector. Investment there needs to nearly double. Spending on EVs will need to grow from about $4 billion to nearly $22 billion annually, while spending on heat pumps to decarbonize buildings will need to grow more than eight times the current level.
Canada has the natural resources, the skilled workforce, the universities, the research centres, and now the will. That's why Electric Mobility Canada supports accelerated investment in the electric vehicle industry. This will help Canada realize its full potential as a world leader in this growing sector.
We recognize the impressive efforts that the federal government has recently undertaken to make Canada a global player, including many new programs and projects announced to support the electrification of vehicles in this country.
To help Canada get to the top, Electric Mobility Canada has the following recommendations for the 2023 federal budget. These recommendations are still in draft form because the deadline is October 8. Today we are providing you with the first draft, and we will provide you with the final recommendations on October 8.
Our recommendations focus on five main and interrelated pillars: rebates and incentives, charging infrastructure deployment, regulation, supply chain and government leadership.
Mr. Chair and Committee members, I would like to thank you for inviting me today.
My name is Beth Potter and I am the President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
Before my remarks, I acknowledge that we are gathered here today on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin nation.
TIAC is the national advocate for tourism in Canada. On behalf of thousands of tourism businesses, we promote policies, programs and other initiatives that foster the sector's growth.
Tourism matters. It enables socio-economic development, job creation and poverty reduction. This drives prosperity and provides unique opportunities to women, minorities and young people. The benefits spread far beyond direct GDP contributions and employment. The indirect gains extend through the entire travel ecosystem and supply chains to other sectors.
Despite some improvement over the last few months, tourism businesses incurred a heavy debt load to get through COVID and continue to struggle financially. They face barriers to attracting investment and have considerable challenges attracting and retaining the necessary workforce to run their operations. Disruptions in supply chains, inflation at a 40-year high and rising interest rates are now also impacting our businesses.
Our recent submission to Minister outlined key priorities to help tourism reach its full potential. We recommended key goals to be achieved by 2030. These relate to tourism spending, dispersion, workforce, international overnight visitors and our global competitive position. We have four pillars that will help to achieve those goals.
The first one is to attract and retain a sustainable tourism workforce. The recovery and growth of tourism largely hinges on addressing the significant labour shortages that exist. Tourism HR Canada also submitted a comprehensive proposal to Minister and recommended targeted recruitment campaigns and a specific indigenous workforce strategy.
In the areas of training and skills development, it recommended increasing the number of high school programs, modernizing post-secondary programs, launching comprehension national tourism job bridging programs as well as investing in skills development and training. TIAC supports these recommendations and urges the government to act on them. THRC is a unique organization and is a centre of excellence and expertise in this area. As such, we recommend that the government contribute ongoing resources to them to enable them to carry out this important role.
Our second pillar involves improving access for visitors to and within Canada. Enabling and facilitating the movement of travellers to and within Canada is critical to tourism success. To improve pre-border screening wait times and congestion at airports, additional resources should be allocated to greater adoption of biometrics and the use of other digital tools such as e-gates.
Additional resources should be allocated to expand the trusted traveller pilot program nationwide. The Canada electronic travel authorization program could be enhanced and used to harmonize and streamline a number of Canadian-recognized global security agreements. The government could also take a leadership role and assist in redeveloping routes to connect Canada via motorcoach.
Our third pillar focuses on developing and promoting tourism assets. Significant resources are needed to ensure that Canada has world-class tourism assets and to promote them for travellers to discover and experience. Estimates undertaken by industry experts suggest that it would take billions of dollars in new capital to fully achieve our asset goals. Support for the creation and refurbishment of tourism assets should entail a suite of financial measures. Much of this new financing could be administered via existing organizations. We know in particular the need for targeted support for assets in the indigenous tourism sector.
We recommend a new tax credit for retrofits and upgrades. This would incentivize investment in renovations across the country. A new capital cost allowance could be introduced for capital investments, allowing 100% of the investment in new tourism assets or major renovations to be claimed in the year in which they occur.
To help attract greater private investment, the government could establish pools of public lending capital. Such investment could help leverage billions of dollars from private sources.
To encourage the development of new, sustainable, innovative assets, or refurbishing existing ones, particularly in underserved rural and remote areas, new grants and non-repayable contribution programs could be created.
The marketing and promotion of our assets is also critically important. We recommend that the government increase its annual allocation to Destination Canada to a level on par with its counterparts in other leading countries and commit to that funding for five years.
We also recommend that the government introduce a national meetings, incentives conferences and events fund to also help stimulate the business event sector. The government should encourage its regional economic development agencies to provide greater assistance to destination marketing organizations for this purpose.
Our last pillar is a regenerative and inclusive tourism sector. As tourism works hard to get back to prepandemic levels, there is an opportunity to make the sector more resilient, sustainable and equitable. We recommend that the government invest in regenerative tourism and acknowledge tourism's role in carbon reduction by introducing tourism-specific programs in support of businesses for new sustainable projects and retrofits across the country.
Canada also strives to be a place of inclusivity and opportunity for all communities. TIAC recommends that the government introduce new tax credits for businesses that develop specialized equity recruitment programs, as well as allocate resources for the implementation of an indigenous-led workforce strategy.
In closing, I trust our more detailed proposals in our written submission, which we will table later this week, will enable you to consider the priorities in the upcoming budget.
Thank you very much. I look forward to our discussion.
Community radio stations are a critical part of Canada's broadcasting network. They are particularly vital to rural Canadians. They are the front lines in the fight against disinformation.
The sector includes more than 235 stations licensed as community, indigenous or campus in almost every province and territory. More than 120 of those operate in communities of less than 50,000 people. They broadcast content in more than 65 different languages. They are among the last local and live media outlets in communities across Canada.
These are all not-for-profit stations with boards and staff who live in the communities they serve. These stations are reliable. They offer accurate information, because their own families depend on it, and their neighbours do too. For example, during hurricane Fiona, staff at CFIM on the Magdalen Islands, at CKOA in Cape Breton—their station was actually pushed off its foundations by the wind—and CKMA in Miramichi barricaded themselves inside their stations with stacks of pizza and bottled water. They gave the latest updates on power outages, road closures and places where volunteers were urgently needed. They directed those who were injured to clinics with the least volume of patients. They made sure that everyone had the latest weather forecast.
All of this was available by livestream and social media, but without power it didn't matter. Word mostly got out on FM and AM transmitters to receivers powered by batteries. It was only reliable information, unlike the disaster voyeurism as reported by the major networks. Yes, everyone covered the storm. Some provided a service to their listeners. Others just got clicks.
Community media, however, is under threat. Canada has experienced a net loss of more than 275 local news outlets in less than 15 years. The impact of this collective dumbing-down is clear and evident. There's a reason that approximately 12 social media users were responsible for almost 90% of the pandemic disinformation. In the void of local news, Canadians are increasingly turning to social media for their information. We're seeing the impacts.
Margaret Sullivan, the author of Ghosting the News, said the following:
Studies show that people who live in areas with poor local news coverage are less likely to vote, and when they do, they [go along] strictly...party lines. To put it bluntly, the demise of local news poses the kind of danger to our democracy that should have alarm sirens screeching across the land.
The CBC relies on hundreds of millions of dollars in operational support but currently moves further and further from local broadcasting every day. Private broadcasters, who benefit from significant tax breaks, put shareholders before the audience. But community broadcasters, who receive no stable government support, keep doing what they do best—supporting our communities.
Many stations operate on an annual budget of less than $40,000 a year. Any support will make a huge difference for them. We propose two concrete measures that will make that difference.
First, continue the local journalism initiative. It's a program run by Heritage that has been a resounding success. We're one of seven groups who administer the program. This year alone, just our group funded journalists at stations in 41 underserved communities, or communities considered news deserts. Unfortunately, that program expires in 2024. Heritage Canada has already proposed renewing the program permanently at $15.4 million a year or greater. We wholeheartedly support that proposal. The funding has already made a difference, but the impact will only truly be realized over time.
The second measure is a systemic change for our entire sector. Relative to my colleagues, it's a small number. We're proposing an annual allocation to all 235 community, indigenous and campus broadcasters of a total of $25 million a year administered through the CRFC. We can and will ensure that those funds do not directly or indirectly support further disinformation.
The investment translates into an average of $90,000 per station, providing them with core funding for basic operations, rent on a station or broadcast tower, or paying staff a living wage. These minimal and fiscally responsible investments will provide stability and allow these stations to continue to invest in the Canadian voice.
I want to close by reminding you that, due to their licence, they are all not-for-profit. Every single dollar invested in community radio is reinvested in the communities they serve. Not a dollar is wasted. Not a dollar goes to shareholders. Not a dollar goes to six-figure executive salaries or to million-dollar bonuses paid to C-suite executives for their performance during the pandemic. Every dollar is invested in ensuring that there is a reliable source of local information for generations to come. If we want to support those fighting disinformation, we must fight and support those on the front lines.
Thank you very much. I will be happy to answer your questions in either English or French.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Dear committee members, I am very pleased to represent the Réseau des Sociétés d'aide au développement des collectivités, SADCs, and Centres d'aide aux entreprises, CAEs, in Quebec. I am the proud representative of 67 federally funded non-profit organizations dedicated to the economic development of Quebec's rural and semi-urban regions, as well as to the support of entrepreneurs and to business financing.
Of course, like many Canadian organizations and businesses, we are currently affected by labour shortages. We have to be very resourceful and innovative to help companies in dire need. Yes, there was the pandemic. Fortunately, we've come through it and we're starting to recover. It's a way for us to continue to stand out. However, we need to do it in a different way.
Over the past year, we have had the opportunity to work with , the MP for Pontiac, on the “For a Green and Prosperous Outaouais” initiative. We really enjoyed working with her. This initiative has the potential to snowball across Quebec. However, we need tools to match our ambitions.
What the network is asking the federal government for in the 2023 budget is more money for the Green Shift program, to which $9.5 million was allocated. That funding expires in March 2024. The program is in its second year and it targets two of the three sectors where SADCs and CAEs are involved: technical assistance, business coaching and local economic development.
We believe that by 2023, our members will be able to provide even more assistance to businesses in rural and semi-urban areas. Therefore, we are requesting specifically an increased funding for the Green Shift program.
We are also requesting an increased funding for SADCs and CAEs, to develop a new innovation program that would allow SMEs in rural and semi-urban areas to better handle the green transition. In our opinion, this innovation program could be created jointly with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Inno-centre, in Quebec. It would help businesses with the transition to limit greenhouse gas emissions and better stand out in the Quebec economy.
These are the two requests we are making in the name of our members. This would allow us to continue to do our work well.
We are a group of locally engaged and managed organizations with volunteer boards of directors. What makes us strong in rural and semi-urban territories is our knowledge of businesses. I said I was the spokesperson for the members of the network, but, in fact, I am also indirectly the spokesperson for 10,000 Quebec businesses, since SADCs and CAEs provide direct assistance to them.
So, I have told you who we are and what our needs are for next year.
I'll be happy to answer your questions.
I'd like to thank all our witnesses for being here today.
I'm going to begin my round of questioning with Ms. Potter.
It's good to see you again, so soon after our last meeting at committee. I want to thank you for your continued advocacy for our Canadian tourism industry.
As you know, my riding is the number one leisure tourism destination in all of Canada, with 40,000 workers and 16,000 hotel rooms. Prior to COVID, we generated $2.4 billion in tourism receipts. We probably get 20 million visitors annually. Fifty per cent of the revenues that will be generated in my riding come from American visitation. That was greatly impacted because of COVID.
Like our national industry, COVID had a devastating impact. We were hit first. We were hit the hardest and, as the industry always says, it's going to take our sector the longest to recover.
As you mentioned, and maybe my colleagues aren't fully aware, prior to COVID.... Tourism matters. It's a $105-billion industry in Canada. It's one in every 11 jobs. It's 2% of our GDP. Two years ago, when COVID devastated things, borders shut down and the sector was closed, the government provided $1 billion in support in its budget—$1 billion for a $105-billion industry. My region alone generates $2.4 billion in receipts.
Several important programs were created to assist workers, but then in last year's budget, there was nothing. There was some programming and funding for indigenous tourism, which was highly important and highly needed. You had advocated for a continuation of benefit programs until at least the fall, but the government essentially said to the industry that come the spring, May, they would be over. That's fair enough. That's a government decision, but if they're going to stand by that decision, what they have to do is remove those obstacles that stand in the way of the success of our tourism sector. One of those was the continued border measures and programs, such as ArriveCAN, that continued to be in place. It was a huge obstacle. For American visitation, again, as of August, land border crossings are still at 50%. In my community that's 50% of the revenues. It had a devastating impact, and yet the government continued its obstinance and refused to make changes.
Just the other day Dr. Zain Chagla said those border measures could have been removed as early as the springtime. The data was out there. The proof was out there. Many countries, at least 60 countries around the world, had removed their border restrictions, and yet Canada continued to have them in place. In fact, last year's budget even committed $25 million towards the ArriveCAN app when that could have been put towards destination marketing, for example, once the borders were open.
It's always too little, too late when the government decides to finally end those border restrictions, and we have a long way to go. For example, how long do you expect the Canadian tourism recovery to take to get back to 2019 numbers?
Through the chair, thank you very much.
First of all, we will share with this committee our net-zero strategy. I assume that will happen, if it has not already. We shared it in the past with the minister's office and with ISED, of course, which we deal with most directly.
Let me talk about that element. I agree with you. There's no reason that Canada should be behind in terms of its transition to net zero. Right now most of the focus has been on very large companies. That makes a lot of sense when you think about how they're the largest emitters.
In order to compete in North America, we have to help those SMEs. Most of the 90,000 manufacturers in Canada are small and medium-sized, family-owned companies, which are either part of a supply chain, provide one part or one ingredient or sometimes just serve a regional market. They need help to transition.
The funding that's currently in the net-zero accelerator fund should be extended so that all manufacturers can adopt technologies. On top of that, we think that Canada is in a position, because of our history and our experience in the energy sector, to be exporting that technology.
I think you're absolutely right that this is an opportunity we can't afford to miss—and let me finish with this—especially when I think about the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. We may not always like the U.S. and how it approaches these things, but when it sets its mind to it, it does an incredible job. They have put a huge package of incentives at the federal and state levels to try to use those incentives to bring that technology along. I think Canada has an opportunity to do the same. We're not too late, but we can't wait.
This is something that stations have a lot of experience with.
Twenty years ago, I was the manager of CJLO, which broadcast over the Internet. There is a very small transmitter, but otherwise everything is on the Internet. The station has been operating that way for 20 years.
We have always been innovators in community radio. It is vitally important. As I mentioned, we are livestreaming, podcasting—we're all there. We have stations that have been doing this for a very, very long time. But community radio is unique. It has to also exist on the transmitter towers, because we haven't gotten broadband to all parts of Canada. In the moment of an emergency, we do not have that sort of connection, and we need to make sure that we are there. We are at the front lines for the emergencies.
We live in both worlds, but our stations have always been developers and innovators when it comes to digital technology. In many cases, campus stations' entire audience is that new generation that lives on the Internet.
These have always been the innovators in the broadcasting industry. We just need support to do better.
First, let me acknowledge the witnesses who are attending the meeting in person.
Mrs. Potter, Mr. Breton, and Mr. Freedman, thank you for attending.
I also thank Mr. Staples, Mr. Darby, and Mr. Harvey, who are with us virtually.
We have a most interesting panel, with a rich content. I think a lot of your recommendations will be included in our report. I also believe that we will be able to join hands across party lines to pass the right measures.
I have to tell you that Mr. Chambers gave me the famous flying pig socks. I think we all have a pair now, and anything is possible with these socks.
Canada is doing much more than other countries.
It's been almost 20 years since I started talking to people in the federal government about transportation electrification. For many years, not much happened. But things have picked up in the last two years. Minister Champagne is making regular announcements. You see it all over the place, across Canada. It's extremely promising.
The reality is that things are moving extremely fast. You only have to look at what is happening in the United States, Japan and China. These countries are way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of transportation electrification. You can also look at what is happening now in Europe. In fact, we really have to hurry up to catch up with everyone if we want to remain a leader.
We do, however, have a considerable advantage, which is our critical minerals network, Canada has a very interesting potential. We need to develop them responsibly and in collaboration with First Nations. I think that's a must. We cannot use the shift towards electric mobility to, once again, ignore the needs and considerations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. This is extremely important.
The development of charging infrastructure is also a challenge that we want to focus on, particularly charging infrastructure for heavy-duty vehicles.
An excellent program was announced this summer. It deals with incentives for the purchase of medium and heavy vehicles across Canada. This is great news, and we applauded Minister Alghabra's announcement. However, we believe that a network of charging stations must also be developed for heavy-duty vehicles, which do not have the same needs as the vehicles ordinary Canadians drive.
Just a few weeks ago, a report was released by Natural Resources Canada regarding the charging infrastructure needs we will have in 2025 and 2030. They are talking about 50,000 Level 2 charging stations and public fast-charging stations in 2025, and about 200,000 in 2030.
We do not want only funding, but also targets. The federal government has announced that it wants to adopt a zero-emission standard to get light-duty electric vehicle sales to 20% by 2026, 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. So the infrastructure needs to follow.
Figures were brought up by some stakeholders, but are not realistic. However, serious studies have been done for the Quebec government by ICCT, the International Council on Clean Transportation. Another study was done by Dunsky for Natural Resources Canada.
For my part, I work regularly with the Quebec government and with Hydro-Québec. Let's face it: in Quebec, we are blessed with charging infrastructure, much like British Columbia. In the rest of the country, it is as well developed. We need to make sure we develop the network across the country.
There is one thing to keep in mind. Charging infrastructure for light and heavy electric vehicles will become an essential service in a few years, like electricity. This will go beyond a simple economic need. In all regions of Quebec and Canada, people will want to have charging infrastructure everywhere, which is not the case now. Ontario has obviously fallen behind in the last four years because of a government that decided to stop the development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
There's also an aspect that I think has been missing. Yes, you want to develop an electric vehicle industry, but—I've heard colleagues talk about this—everything about consumer education and training for workers and future workers is extremely important. I was recently talking about this with people from Unifor and the FTQ, the Quebec Federation of Labour. I was telling them that, if we want to help workers who are in declining sectors...
There is no denying that some companies decide to stay frozen in time. They say their business model is done this way and they're not going to change it. We've seen what happened to Kodak, Blockbuster and other companies.
New sectors are emerging. Let us remember that Tesla was a small business a few years ago. Today, it has become a large company because of its foresight. Companies that have a more old-school model are in danger of either being overtaken or disappearing altogether within a few years.
I can give other examples. In Ontario, Li‑Cycle is just getting started, but is growing by leaps and bounds. There's Lion Electric, which had five employees when I was in the Quebec government and they were given their first grant. That company now has hundreds of employees and will have thousands in a few years.
The SMEs and people who are thinking and building the future of transportation electrification and sustainable mobility are the ones prodding the big established companies into moving forward.
I am pleased to be here, today.
I thank all the experts and witnesses who are with us.
I have at least two rounds of questions. I'll start with Mr. Staples from the Canadian Health Coalition.
You correctly pointed out that in the confidence and supply agreement that we negotiated with the minority government, health issues were central to the priorities put forward by the NDP, including dental coverage for children. This year it is up to $1,300 per child. Next year, it will be teenagers, seniors and people with disabilities. In 2024, the insurance will apply to the most disadvantaged and to the middle class.
For the coalition, what does providing accessible dental care for the most disadvantaged mean?
What would you like to see in the 2023 budget to ensure the next steps for this new program?
Thank you for your question, Mr. Boulerice.
It's a very interesting agreement. I think we can't understate the importance of the potential of the provisions that are in the confidence and supply agreement between the NDP and the Liberals. Really, we commend the cross-party co-operation that brought this about, and your work as well in the NDP in putting the proposals forward, but it also requires two to tango, as they say [Technical difficulty—Editor] this is moving forward, and from what we're hearing, there has been some good co-operation.
This is what Canadians want. It shows that when we work together, we can get deliverables. Dental care is a critical issue. Pharmacare is as well, as are safe long-term care and investments in the health care crisis. All four of the main health care points are important. It will take three years to make significant advancements on that.
With dental care, half a million children will benefit from this initial benefit that is being proposed for this budget. I am glad the government has done its very best to keep to the timelines. It seems to be satisfactorily meeting the terms of the agreement. I think that is very important. One thing we do know is that dental care is very much related to your overall health. It can help alleviate wait times and the backlog that's in the hospital. It keeps people out of the emergency room.
As well, this benefit is desperately needed when we look at inflation and the costs that are being borne by Canadians. It's going to be another part of the package to help people.
I am a little concerned, though, that there may be people not benefiting from it, because it is a means-tested program. While we know it's important to have this program—this is progress—we do hope that at some point it will be extended to include everyone, maybe not in budget 2023, but certainly the commitments of the Liberals that have led up to now....
Thank you, Mr. Staples.
You opened the door for me by talking about prescription drug coverage. That is also part of our negotiations and the results we have achieved.
I am an MP from Montreal. In Quebec, there is already a prescription drug insurance program, but it is a hybrid one, both public and private. This causes a number of problems, especially for part-time workers. That's why the FTQ, CSN and CSQ, the major labour unions in Quebec, are calling for a public and universal program.
This is part of the agreement. In your view, as we look ahead to the next steps for pharmacare, particularly in the 2023 budget, should we be guided by the recommendations in the Hoskins Report, the Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of a National Pharmacare Program?
Yes, I have some thoughts on that.
I want to acknowledge the work that the many organizations in Quebec have done in publicizing the need for a universal program that takes the current system in Quebec and moves it forward into a stronger, more robust program. I also want to acknowledge that there are deficiencies within the Quebec program that cannot be allowed to remain and that the Hoskins report, the 2019 advisory council report on pharmacare, is really the pathway. It is an excellent report that has been endorsed by all organizations in every province. Many organizations have, and medical professionals have also, even including former ministers of health. Liberal Party ministers of health have advocated for this program. In fact, the plan put forward came from this government itself.
We are glad and relieved that the NDP, through this agreement, have breathed new life into pharmacare. We want to see $3.5 billion put into getting essential medicines covered, and we believe that this money put forward for the provinces and territories will help overcome resistance in those provinces to play ball and to move forward on pharmacare. It may be part of a larger discussion in terms of other programs or other increases through the Canada health transfer. I don't know what that might look like. We have talked about a new grand bargain in terms of increased funding on the CHT for the provinces and territories in return for co-operating on these provincial programs, especially pharmacare.
However, $3.5 billion is the number that Hoskins put forward for initial essential medicines, and we would go with that.
Thank you to all the witnesses appearing today. I greatly appreciate their presence.
Most of my questions will focus on you, Ms. Potter, and tourism. I'm looking forward to a discussion.
We have a new leader who is putting people first and putting the tourism sector first, and we want to make sure that the people in your industry are fully supported.
I want to discuss some of the Liberal policies and the impact on your industry in particular. We know that the carbon tax started at $20 and now is going up to $170 per tonne. That will be an increase of 750%.
I assume there are many people within the tourism industry who are either dependent on people who are arriving to Canada, transporting within Canada, or maybe even providing the transportation. Do you believe this rapid increase—actually a triple, triple, triple increase—of the carbon tax will have a detrimental impact on the tourism industry?
Thank you very much for that.
I appreciate your commitment to sustainability and the environment. As you said, though, the issue is right now in terms of.... Of course, we will transition as an economy to a greener economy; there's no doubt about that. However, coming right out of COVID and then jumping on in April and tripling the carbon tax to increase it seems to me to be not fair to your industry and not fair to Canadians.
Further, we've seen food inflation, because of this government's reckless spending, at over 10%. In addition to being transported here, people come here to Canada for the fabulous food that is here. As we try to attract people, will that increase in the cost of food increase, and will it be a detriment to your members?
I want to go back to my colleague.
Tourism in Prince Edward Island, obviously, is extremely important. We've been hit really hard recently with Fiona. I could go into that, but I won't.
I want to list some of the supports that I lobbied for, as an individual and an MP, for the industry. I want to know if these supports were beneficial.
We had the Canada emergency wage subsidy. We had the Canada emergency business account. We had the Canada emergency rent subsidy. We had a large employer emergency financing facility subsidy of up to $60 million. We had a business credit availability program, the Canada recovery hiring program, the highly affected sectors credit availability program and a regional relief and recovery fund. Those are just some. It totalled about $15.4 billion that we put into the tourism industry from the time COVID hit. Then there are more programs coming out of the recovery.
Are there any programs that the government should have done? Is there another program that it never touched during the past two and a half years?
I'm going to be unoriginal in that I'm also going to ask my questions to Ms. Potter during this round of questioning.
Ms. Potter, since I only have two and a half minutes, I'm going to ask my two questions at the same time, even though the topics are different.
First of all, I would like you to give us an idea of the state of the international conventions sector. We know that large cities like Montreal are struggling right now, and so are their hotels, among others. Montreal was the main destination in the Americas for international conventions. In the tourism industry, have these conventions resumed? What is the situation and what specific measures could the government deploy to better support this industry in Canada?
My second question is about the seasonal and cyclical nature of many jobs in the tourism industry. This is perhaps more the case in the regions. The government had special employment insurance measures in place during the pandemic. It has now removed them, causing a return to the old EI system, and almost doubling the number of hours needed to qualify for benefits. Are tourism businesses in the regions complaining about the situation and the fact that they can no longer retain workers with seasonal jobs?
Before I answer, I just want to give a bit of context. I did a quick bit of math on the number of tourists who visit Canada by car and the amount of GHG that this represents. Roughly three quarters of GHG emissions caused by the tourism industry come from transport. In 2019, this amounted to about half a billion kilograms of CO2. This means that supporting the electrification of transport will make tourism a greener industry. It is important to mention.
I drove here in an electric car, so I emitted almost no greenhouse gas, which speaks to what you mentioned before.
Let us turn to the government setting an example. When I was part of the government in Quebec, it was said that government bodies should lead by example, whether it be members of Parliament, public servants or government buildings. For instance, the environment minister uses an electric vehicle. Ten years ago, I used a hybrid car, because we did not quite have fully electric cars yet.
We want to lead by example, and that includes the charging infrastructure. Here in Ottawa, for instance, we see a lack of charging stations for you as MPs, for ordinary citizens and for public servants. Generally speaking, the infrastructure is insufficient.
I remember a directive from a few years ago forbidding people from plugging their electric cars in the 120-volt power outlets around the House of Commons, while allowing conventional gas-powered cars equipped with block heaters to use them. Inconsistencies like that show that we have a way to go in terms of the state setting the example.
The heavy vehicle infrastructure sector will be critical. Many employers in that sector are based in Quebec and Canada, like Lion Électrique, New Flyer and Nova Bus. More and more Canada- and Quebec-based businesses are developing a very important sector.
Let me give an example about heavy vehicles and infrastructure. Three months ago, I was in Norway. Much to my surprise, I discovered that Norway had 825 ferry routes, while Canada has 180. Also, 47% of ferries in Norway are already electric. Of course, the infrastructure there has been built accordingly. I think that we have fewer than a dozen electric ferries in Canada. We are way behind.
An entire shipbuilding industry could be developed around that. I think it would be an amazing opportunity to help shipyards around the country. We cannot pretend that we are not there yet from a technological standpoint. The largest ferry in the world is in Norway. It carries 600 people and 200 cars across 10 kilometres every single day. We are definitely there.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm not wearing mine today but I did wear them the other day, so at least once a week.
My colleague from P.E.I. was showing me some great tourism destinations this summer, which I thanked him very much for, but obviously, recently those destinations are under some significant pressure, and in some cases have disappeared. Hopefully, we can get those back up and running as quickly as possible for those local communities.
I'm going to spend my time a bit differently today. I'm going to give each witness an opportunity to think about a question. I'm going to come back to them after.
Do you have a suggestion for government, for the budget, that doesn't cost any money? You can think about that for a couple of minutes while I talk to Mr. Darby for a few minutes. Then we'll come back to that and give everyone a chance to respond with one idea they have that doesn't cost the government any money. It could be regulatory change, something that you could help us provide to the that doesn't strain the financial resources more than they are right now.
Mr. Darby, from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, I'd like a couple of minutes with you, please.
I'm curious about your take on the competitiveness of the Canadian manufacturing sector vis-à-vis the rest of the world. There's been a lot going on. The U.S. is obviously making some significant investments. There's a lot of talk about onshoring. How do you think our sector is positioned? Are there opportunities to strengthen that?
The obvious answer for us is the federal ZEV mandate that was announced by the a few months ago. Right now most people who want to go to electric cars cannot find any. It takes between six months and two years to get their hands on one.
I was looking at some data for Ontario, because you are an Ontario MP. Right now, because of the price of vehicles, gas vehicles, the price of gas, it ends up being less expensive to purchase and own an electric vehicle for many models nowadays.
When you're thinking about Ontario, I was looking at some data from 2021, and for Ontario drivers, Ontario imports approximately 12,750,000 barrels a month for oil for gas and diesel. It costs Ontario taxpayers about $900 million a month to import to Ontario oil for gas and diesel. If we transfer to electric vehicles, what that will do is keep money in the province of Ontario and create sustainable jobs in assembly, utilities, construction and everything.
That's why we need regulations to get those cars into Canada. Right now we're getting the leftovers because we don't have regulations. The U.S. has them—
Thanks so much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank everyone for your presentations. I wish I had 10 or 20 minutes. I would ask all of you great questions.
I'm going to spend around two minutes with you, Ms. Potter, and then I'm going to move to Mr. Darby. I'm hoping that in my next round I can go to a couple of other people.
It's unfortunate that Mr. Lawrence has left, because there were a couple of things I wanted to follow up on in terms of the conversation that he had begun.
Do you believe it is important for the federal government to continue to fund employment insurance, particularly since so many in the tourism industry are seasonal workers? Do you think we need to continue funding employment insurance?
Part of our climate change plan is to price pollution as our way to decarbonize and try to move to net zero because, if we're not able to get to net zero, unfortunately our climate will continue to warm up and we will have more of this unpredictable weather. I just wanted to put that on the table, because I know that you talked about sustainability and that it is important for the industry to do that, but I also wanted to let you know that it continues to be a big priority for our government.
The next question I have is for Mr. Darby.
Mr. Darby, you said a lot of excellent things and made excellent recommendations in a very short period of time. I heard you loud and clear in terms of the national industrial strategy and the doubling of the manufacturing capacity, which was great. I also heard you refer to the Monique Leroux report.
I wonder—just for us because we want to move forward with some very specific recommendations for budget 2023—if you can follow up. If you have a few things top of mind right now, if there's one, two or three things that you would like to pull out for the committee, that would be really important. If you don't have a chance now, please feel free to follow up with us. It's important for us to have very specific recommendations. Do you have any that come to mind now?
I have one more question before my time ends.
I just want to make sure that we're all absolutely clear. When we talk about CPP and other payroll taxes like EI, we're talking about increases that are scheduled. Maybe if MP Dzerowicz is really concerned about temporary foreign workers paying into the system.... Right now they have to pay into it, and then they go back to their original country and they can't ever claim CPP or receive those EI benefits when they've left Canada. She might want to talk to her own if she thinks that's not a good thing to do for people in those situations.
Mr. Breton, thank you so much for coming. I want to talk to you about technical requirements for electric vehicle charging stations. You talked about how other countries are able to get people and that infrastructure in.
Concerning the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and other statutes, there are consultations that have just closed on kilowatt hour billing. Essentially they're saying that it's going to take until the end of 2023 to have a standard for level one and level two charges, and they're just starting to put out a level three charging station consultation. Right now we could be having private companies putting money into the system and not requiring governments, provincial or federal, to put in the infrastructure so that there are more electric vehicles. That's a way that we can.... Just change a technical standard. Would you agree that needs to happen faster?
Thanks very much, Chair, and thank you to all of the witnesses who are with us today.
I would just like to come back to this issue of EI contributions, which a number of the members opposite have suggested be frozen, and the impact that would have. I just want to be clear that the increases in EI contributions when they come up are there because they're needed to cover the demands for EI by people when they are out of work. That is especially important in a high inflation environment like we find ourselves in today, where the cost of living is even greater.
If people were to lose their employment and need EI, not only would doing what the members opposite suggested mean they would not have enough under normal circumstances, but in this particular case, under this inflationary environment, it would mean that you have even less than people in the past have had to cover the cost of living. I just want us to have our eyes wide open on what freezing EI contributions would actually mean for Canadian workers.
We've seen how important EI and other programs are to support workers when people are hit hard, when businesses struggle, especially during COVID. I think it's irresponsible to suggest that we not contribute enough money into the EI program to make sure it is there for workers when they fall on hard times.
With that said, I would like to change direction and go back to health care.
Mr. Staples, I represent the riding of Etobicoke Centre. In the early stages of the pandemic, there was a long-term care facility in my riding where the Canadian Armed Forces served. It was on the basis of their service in that long-term care home and four other long-term care homes in Ontario that the armed forces issued a report documenting horrific conditions in long-term care.
Back in 2020 when this report came out, the five MPs who represented the ridings in which these long-term care homes were situated, where the armed forces served, wrote a letter to the and a letter to Premier Ford. I was one of those five. One of the things we asked for was national standards for long-term care.
Our government has committed to working with the provinces to establish national standards for long-term care, but I'm wondering if you could explain. In prior interactions, in your presentation, you spoke about national standards and the importance of that in long-term care. Could you explain why national standards are so important?
Thank you for your efforts in getting national standards and dealing with the terrible situation in the long-term care homes.
I've read those reports as I'm sure you have. It's hard to read what members of the armed forces were confronted with when they went into those facilities to see the level of care. Basically, of the thousands of people who died in long-term care, some of them didn't die of COVID. They died of starvation, dehydration, whatever else—just a simple lack of care.
My heart goes out to many of the workers in those places who were confronted with a lack of PPE and had to make a choice between the safety of their own families and the people they were caring for every day in the workplace. Many of those people were in the lowest part of our economy. It was a terrible situation and underscores the need.
As you know, there are three forms of long-term care. There are the ones that are run by the government, mostly municipal governments. Then there are non-profit private care facilities. I lived across from one that served the Korean community. It was a charitable organization that was run privately. Finally, there are the for-profits, the ones that are run by big investment firms that have a profit motive in the care of these people.
There was a terrible situation in all of those forms, but we know that the for-profits were much worse. I don't know the specifics of your situation in Etobicoke Centre, but my guess is that it may have been one of these for-profit firms. We need national standards.
We have participated in an exercise funded by the federal government, by the health standards organization led by Dr. Samir Sinha, who came out with a report. We should see something in the fall.
Were his recommendations good? Yes. Were they an improvement on what was there before? Yes. Are they good enough? We're not convinced. There were some gaps there.
We do think there needs to be a minimum number of hours of direct care, and the standard discussion number is four hours at least—sometimes you see higher ones—of direct care for patients by nurses and other caregivers. We think that's very important to put in there, and that would be something the federal government could do through the safe long-term care act, which it committed to.
First, I would like to make a comment. When I look at the state of the health care system in the provinces and in Canada, I see that Ottawa has not been funding the provinces according to its means since the 1990s. There is no doubt that it has damaged the health care system. It is not by imposing federal standards that everything will magically be fixed. There is a lack of money because Ottawa is not contributing what it should. I think all the provinces, including Quebec, have been asking for this since 2015. Yet no meeting has taken place between the premiers and the in Ottawa to discuss the refinancing of the health system. When you underfund health care for decades, tragedies like the ones we have seen happen. I do not think standards are worse in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan or Quebec. I think that Ottawa is not doing its job and that it is not funding health according to its means. That was my comment.
I now want to turn to the witnesses to whom I have not yet asked questions, like Mr. Freedman, Mr. Darby and Mr. Harvey. My hat is off to you. I agree with your demands. We will make sure that they are reflected in our pre-budget requests. You raise some very important points.
Because my time is limited, I will ask one last question to Mr. Breton.
Mr. Breton, you talked about many elements related to electric vehicles. We have not touched on off-road electric vehicles, like the snowmobiles made by Taïga. Jobs often depend on these off-road vehicles.
Are electric off-road vehicles preferable to gas-powered off-road vehicles? Should Ottawa invest in this type of vehicle?
Definitely. To give you an idea, air pollution caused by a single modern snowmobile is equivalent to about 40 cars. We are not only talking about GHG, but air pollution as a whole.
The Yukon now offers rebates for purchasing electric snowmobiles. I think the federal government could do the same, especially since more and more companies based in Quebec and Canada make snowmobiles, personal watercraft and side-by-sides. BRP is working on something, and there are other actors in the country. It is obviously a sector that needs to be supported. Some US states support this industry, but our federal government is not there yet. I think it is important.
There are other factors to keep in mind. The ZEV standard, as I alluded to earlier, is absolutely essential to ensure a sufficient supply of electric vehicles. Right now, all we have are leftovers. As I said, some US states, Europe and China have put regulations in place. Having to wait six months to two years for an electric car is unacceptable. Regulations will make the difference.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
We could talk forever about the quality of care in our health care system. I think that we can call for more generous transfers to provinces and for Ottawa to contribute its share. We need minimum safeguards for our seniors who suffered in long-term care facilities. We also have to get the private sector out of our health care system. I believe we can do all three of these things at the same time and come out ahead instead of thinking of them as mutually exclusive. That is my comment.
Mr. Freedman, thank you very much for being here. The quality of our democracy is tremendously important to us. Divisiveness and populism in politics, as we have seen in the United States with President Trump, is a cause for concern. I thought that we would be safe from that in Quebec and Canada. I am not so sure anymore, specifically because of the “freedom convoy” that rolled into Ottawa.
You spoke of disinformation. I would like you to give your thoughts on that.
How can your members, local radio stations that are part of their community, can act as a vaccine when it comes to disinformation?
I will answer in English, if I may.
It's a very simple answer.
Our stations are in the communities. Our stations are known by the communities, and therefore, when our stations speak, they're informed by said communities.
When the hosts speak, they speak because they've received their information in the grocery store line, because they've connected with those members of the community. I'm not talking international here. I'm talking about where we live.
When you hear that person on the radio or you see them tweeting, or you see them on TikTok or Twitter, you know who they are. You know how you can come back to them and say, “I don't think that's true,” and, “Where did you get that information?” That is the key to local news.
It's not just in the news reports. It's contained in the conversations between hosts. It's contained at the festivals with the artists. This conversation happens all over the place.
If you'll permit me, I'll take a moment because when it comes to tourism, the importance of having good small and medium enterprises is vital. That is the underpinning of tourism. Those enterprises rely on community radio to get their message to their listeners, to the audiences where they will survive, not just in peak tourism season but also off season.
I want to speak to health for a moment. Our journalists were the ones on the ground in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. They were the ones at the clinic who were hearing from the doctors, and they were the ones who were giving the people on the ground the information they needed in their community.
That's where we play the role of a vaccine when it comes to disinformation, because we're on the ground; we're in the faces of people who need to hear us, and we're responsible to those people when we walk out the door of our station.
You answered my colleague's question about what could be efficient. I think what's challenging about tourism, in my observations, is how to actually quantify the economic and mental health impact of what it provides for our country.
This week I met with the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. This is a $9-billion industry in Canada, $3 billion in Ontario. How do you actually quantify how much they help a community when they come into that community? There's the building of the snowmobile, the parts for the snowmobile and the equipment needed for the snowmobile. Then they go for a snowmobile ride. They stop at a restaurant. They stop at a store. They stop at a convenience store or they get gas. All of that really impacts tourism.
The other aspect of it is the mental health component of it, which we've seen is a massive component when we're looking at our well-being and what we've seen in the last two years. So many people look at travelling through the eyes of the tourist, and look at it as an opportunity of privilege, rather than through the eyes of the business owner who operates a tourism business. Those are the people who hold our economy together.
If you had an ask of this government—you already mentioned it, and I'd like to have it on the record again—and the assurance of where the money would go, and if we were not seeing bureaucratic bloat and administrative costs and money lost to where it directly needs to go, what would be your advice for a budget?
Thank you for the question, Madam. Let me endeavour to look at it this way.
The decision to collect the carbon tax and to put a price on carbon was.... What we talk about adamantly is that the money from that needs to come back to help companies transition, because that's where it becomes valuable. It becomes valuable if we use that money we collect to help companies compete, and that they can compete with the EU and the U.S. ultimately. I think from that point of view, we just need to complete that circle, make sure that we're providing those incentives and those supports so the companies can do that transition. I think that's when we will see the advantage.
Right now it looks a bit balanced more towards the stick than the carrot, but I think the potential is there. Long term, it will be important for Canada to have reached net zero because it will ultimately impact ESG principles. It will impact our ability to compete with Europe and with the U.S.
We just need to continue on the path, in my opinion.
Let's talk for a moment about CHIP FM, because CHIP did an amazing thing during the pandemic. Everybody was locked in their house. Municipal processes were still ongoing. CHIP FM put a microphone inside the MRC, and they were able to broadcast the municipal meetings to the entire population. That gave everybody in the Pontiac region access to the democratic process. That's part of the antidote that we talked about, and that's so important.
What are we saying? Number one, extend the LJI, the local journalism initiative. CHIP has benefited greatly. Both stations in the area have benefited greatly from the ability to have a salary to hire a journalist because they can barely pay their station managers. To have that ability is a remarkable thing.
The second element is that this benefits everybody, not just the community radio stations. This benefits the community newspapers. This benefits community television. The extension of the local journalism initiative will benefit journalists writ large across the community network, the community element, which is so important. It's not isolated. This is a significant solution.
The second part we talk about is this core funding for all community stations. It's much less than what the CBC gets, but it's something that allows them to operate without worrying about whether they're going to be able to keep their transmitters operating, or whether they're going to be able to buy a new mixing board to transition to digital because that's where their new listeners are. Core funding like that will allow them to operate and then to continue to fundraise and invest what they fundraise back into that community.
Everything they do is the underpinning of making sure there's a voice for the people who live in Pontiac, in Miramichi, in Niagara Falls, where you don't get regular information about your community because you're inundated by U.S. stations, or in Peterborough where Trent University has a remarkable radio station and does incredible things. I could on and on. We are part of the community, and that's why we are so important to the viable information....
That's the time, MP Chatel. I know it goes very quickly. It went so fast this time because we have incredible witnesses here with us.
I would like to, as I said, call you all partners. On behalf of our committee, you've really helped kick-start our pre-budget consultations in advance of budget 2023. On behalf of members of the committee, the clerk, the analysts, the interpreters and all of the staff, we want to thank you for all of the questions that you answered, and for the great deal of information and ideas that you have provided for us today. Thank you very much. We wish you the best with your evening.
Members, I want to inform you that on the 17th we will have MP Gladu for the first hour, and then departmental officials for the second hour. Just be aware of that.
On that note, members, shall we adjourn?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you very much, everybody. Have a great evening.
The meeting is adjourned.