Good afternoon, everyone, I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 21 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee is continuing its study of creating a fair and equitable Canadian energy transformation. Today is our fifth meeting with witnesses on this study. I will provide an update at the end of the meeting on what happened on Wednesday with our indigenous panel, and what we're doing to rectify that.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of November 25, 2021. Members are attending either in person or remotely. I would like to remind all participants that, now that we've started, screenshots or taking photos are not permitted. We are being televised and made available via the House of Commons website. As per the directive of the Board of Internal Economy, we ask anyone at the table to wear a mask. If you the leave the table and move around, please wear your mask during the meeting.
A few comments for the benefit of our witnesses. Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute yourself, when you are not speaking. There's interpretation for those on Zoom. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen of floor, English, or French. When anyone is speaking, we ask you to maintain a conversational tone, which allows our interpreters to keep up with the conversation. That way everybody can participate and have the benefit of what you are saying. For those in the room, you can use the earpiece and select the desired channel. All comments should be addressed through the chair.
For those in the room, please raise your hand. For members joining us virtually, you can use the “raise hand” function. The clerk and I will do our best to manage the speaking order as best we can. I will mention, if anyone is new to being a witness to our committee, when we get into the question and answer session, I very much turn it over to the members to guide the line of questioning for the amount of time that they have. Even if you raise your hand, they may have somebody to whom they want to direct their questions. I leave it to the members to keep an eye on who has their hands raised, and if they get to you or not. We try to be inclusive, but it is very much up to the members to decide who they are going to be interacting with as we go through the afternoon.
I would like to welcome members Desjarlais, Lalonde and Sorbara, who are going to be joining us for a while on the committee.
I would like to welcome our witnesses. From the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, we have Shannon Joseph, vice-president, government relations and indigenous affairs. From Canadians for Affordable Energy, we have Hon. Dan McTeague, president. From Clean Energy Canada, we have Merran Smith, chief innovation officer. From Electricity Canada, we have Francis Bradley, president and chief executive officer, appearing jointly with Electricity Human Resources Canada's Michelle Branigan, chief executive officer. From Energy NL, we have Charlene Johnson, chief executive officer, and appearing in person, from Iron & Earth, we have Luisa Da Silva, executive director.
Welcome to all of our witnesses. Thank you so much for making yourselves available to be with us today on the study of creating a fair and equitable Canadian energy transformation.
I'm going to go to opening comments. Each of the panellists will have five minutes.
Thank you very much, committee members, for the opportunity to present today.
The upstream oil and gas industry is committed to environmental leadership. We see an important role for our industry in meeting increasing global demand for reliable, affordable and responsibly produced energy while we proactively advance solutions to support Canada's role in addressing climate change.
Growing Canadian oil and natural gas exports and market share is an important solution to the twin challenges of reducing emissions and enhancing global energy security. Canada's upstream oil and natural gas industry, our workers and innovators want to work with the Government of Canada to fulfill this potential. Our industry directly and indirectly employs more than 500,000 talented Canadians in every province. Through their hard work and innovation, Canada produces oil and natural gas, which, according to recent Bank of Montreal capital markets reports, has the top-ranked environmental, social and governance profile, or ESG, among the world's top 10 energy exporters.
In addition, our indigenous partners have an important and growing role in the responsible energy development that we have in Canada. This also provides indigenous communities with opportunities for sustainable prosperity and self-determination. A healthy and innovative oil and natural gas sector is part of reconciliation and plays an important role in economic reconciliation.
Our industry will also continue to work on the technological innovation to support domestic and international emissions reductions as well as other goals. It is therefore vital that the scope, scale and pace of Canada's approach to a just transition aligns with global energy transformations so that Canada is not inadvertently phasing out opportunities, both domestically and internationally, to play a role in global energy security and emissions reduction.
According to the International Energy Agency, the global need and demand for oil and natural gas will continue for decades to come. That is true even in their sustainability scenario and their net-zero scenario. As the global population increases and people all over the world seek to improve their quality of life, safe, reliable and affordable energy is fundamental to such improvements. Thus, one of the most important roles Canada can play in addressing global climate change is displacing coal in the global energy mix with Canadian natural gas exported as liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
An effective approach to managing the impacts from the transformation to a lower-carbon global economy should reflect Canada's unique opportunity to meet future and current increases in global demand for responsibly produced oil and natural gas. This approach should protect and enhance Canadian and global energy security and manage energy affordability impacts.
We therefore suggest that Canada's just transition approach incorporate the following three principles. Support the important role for Canada as a responsible low-emission producer able to meet increasing demands for natural gas and oil and play a key role in global energy security. Recognize and support world-class and skilled workers who will continue to be needed in their roles, even as their capacities expand to additional functions, such as hydrogen production and carbon capture, utilization and storage, to meet our complementary goal of significant emission reductions in Canada. Affirm that the focus of Canada's climate strategy is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that all sectors have a role to play consistent with this effort.
There are important lessons from LNG energy policies made in other jurisdictions that we should learn from. The current European situation highlights the risk of a disorderly energy transition. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, oil and natural gas prices had been rising as a result of supply shortages and a decline in energy development. An important driver for this decline has been policy signals from governments and the investment community that are misaligned with global energy demand.
Canada's just transition policy should be informed by these realities. It should include performance metrics looking at economic performance and job performance regionally and nationally. It should be informed by regional differences across Canada. It should strive to improve the economics for Canadian industries and advance emission reduction work. It should ensure that the scope, scale and pace of Canada's transition to a lower-carbon economy aligns with global energy transformations.
A collaborative approach is necessary to guide a successful outcome on all of these issues. CAPP stands ready, as a solutions-oriented partner at a pivotal time, to work with Parliament and the government in creating a fair and equitable energy transformation.
Mr. Chair, it's a pleasure to be here.
I am honoured to be here at the invitation of members from various parties.
The context of my appearance requires a few comments on the fair and equitable transformation of Canada's energy sector.
It's fairly obvious and very timely that this committee should be looking at an issue that I think has to be contrasted against the reality that many Canadians are confronting today. It's pretty clear, I think, for those of us who have been in the business of looking at energy pricing that what's often lost in all of this discussion, as important as it may be in the context in which we find ourselves, is that we're probably not spending a lot of time looking at important issues that confront Canadians, mostly the issue of affordability. That deals directly with the issue of energy affordability.
It may not come as a surprise to many of my colleagues here and former colleagues as well—it's good to see that some of them are still on the committee, some of whom I have a very close relationship with—that we find ourselves in an odd situation in which we want to do what's right by the just transition, but we have to recognize that Canadians are having a very difficult time making that transition at a time of record-setting prices. Here, I'm not referring simply to gas prices, although that would be the easier part. Diesel prices, natural gas prices and the cost of electricity in many provinces across this country have reached enormously difficult levels for most consumers. It's in that context that I believe this committee must find all of its conclusions and all of its recommendations.
I think we've been given an opportunity to be perhaps told by these signals that it is time for Canadians and our representatives to take into consideration the impact that too quick a transition may have. Although we want to do right by the environment, we also have to do right by consumers. We have to do right by what is affordable for the country. Relying on energies that have been proven in Europe and other places to be neither scalable nor reliable or, at the end of the day, affordable also leads to unintended consequences. We see the consequences being played out in Europe today, where they've had 30 years of going down this road of finding an equitable solution.
We are an energy-intense country. We are a cold nation. We are a nation that relies more disproportionately on energy. When I was a member of Parliament, my riding was one that once led technology when it came to energy, such as with the first commercial nuclear reactors in North America. It not only brought about the implementation of new technologies that were real and achievable but also managed to bring about an unprecedented period of prosperity for my province of Ontario. Cheap electricity and cheap energy, notwithstanding the public's contribution, allowed Ontario as a jurisdiction to attract manufacturing and to continue its strength relative to many other North American jurisdictions.
Going too quickly with the idea that we can somehow convert and change over night because it is de rigueur or because it is fashionable may not have the outcome that we want. In fact, the undesirable outcome that we're seeing is governments increasingly having to, in my province, not only adopt green energy but also do so at a time in which they're having to accept as much as $6.5 billion in debt to shield consumers from the full effect of moving too quickly on certain technologies that are both unproven, unreliable and, as I mentioned earlier, unaffordable.
I am now ready to answer your questions.
I am very interested in hearing what you have to say. Perhaps through a dialectic exchange we can learn a little more about each other and about your interests. At the end of the day, someone has to speak out for Canadians who are on this very day questioning whether or not affordability can be managed in this country.
Anything that deviates from that, I suggest, might not meet with the public's test of support.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Five years ago, in a meeting with many of you elected officials, the number one message I had was that climate action wasn't about pain; it was about gain. It was that the energy transition was about jobs and the economy.
What was an idea then is clearly a reality now. Over 430,000 Canadians are already employed in the clean energy sector. This number is set to grow by almost 50% by 2030. Modelling that we did with Navius Research estimates that while 126,000 jobs will be lost in fossil fuels by 2030 as global markets transition away from oil and gas, 209,000 jobs will be created in clean energy.
We also found that the biggest relative clean energy job growth would happen in Alberta. The province has the best wind and solar resources in the country. Consider the Travers solar facility in southern Alberta. It's Canada's largest solar panel project, which is creating over 1,000 jobs during peak construction. In Edmonton, Air Products Canada right now has a blue hydrogen project with $1.3 billion of investment, which will create 2,500 jobs in construction and engineering jobs in the near term, with more job creation to come in the hydrogen transportation industry over the long term.
This transition isn't just about the energy sector. We're seeing automakers rebrand themselves. I don't know that if you noticed that electric vehicles dominated the Super Bowl ads. That's a sign of the change that's happening. In March, we landed the single largest investment in automaking in Canada since the 1980s, if not ever. It's a $5-billion gigafactory in Windsor that's supporting 2,500 new jobs. This is an opportunity to save our auto sector and to grow it in new ways.
This is but one of the many recent commitments in Canada's battery supply chain. Almost overnight, Canada set itself up to play an integral role in electrifying the North American auto industry. The hard work and coordination of federal and provincial governments were really key to landing these big deals.
This summer, Clean Energy Canada and the Trillium Network are going to be releasing new research that quantifies the size of Canada's battery supply chain opportunity for jobs. I don't have the data to share fully with you today, but I'll offer a brief spoiler. These jobs are going to exist across Canada, in rural and suburban regions alike, as well as across industries—mining, manufacturing and components. A well-designed, clean industrial strategy is going to be what's needed to land these types of jobs and more investment, potentially, across the country. We can see the job creation starting in this energy transition in Canada.
I have another important message. It really builds on what Dan was saying, and it's just as critical as the economic one. The most salient issue in Canada right now is the cost of living. The clean energy transition is a solution to this problem, as well.
In the plainest sense, transitioning to clean energy lowers energy bills. This is coming from the International Energy Agency, which has shown that with current government policies, average household energy bills will decline in advanced economies between now and 2050. Where governments introduce more policy, it declines even further. The Canadian Climate Institute found the same thing. Again, Canadians will spend a smaller share of their incomes on energy as we move.
Yes, electricity bills will be higher. We'll use more electricity, but getting off of fossil fuels, combined with energy efficiency, is ultimately a recipe for savings. I don't know if any of you saw a recent report called “The True Cost”. It showed that, over eight years, electric vehicles were thousands of dollars cheaper overall than comparable gas models. Again, when you waste less energy and use less wasteful energy, you save money. That's because a lot of energy is lost in heat for the fossil fuels.
However, there's one hurdle we must address, which is that something that saves you money in the long run often comes with a higher price tag today. This is an area where government needs to help. Lower-income Canadians need measures made for them, such as rebates for used EVs, for example.
I want to end by saying that the global energy transition is well under way. Our largest trading partners are investing billions in these newly imagined economies. The EU's race to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels foreshadows where the global economy is going.
One of the most effective things that Canada can do to create a fair and equitable transition is to invest in that energy transition. Invest with good policy and regulations to hasten decarbonization, with tax credits, strategic investments and with a clear signal of policy certainty, so that the private sector can align their investments with this clean energy future.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Francis Bradley, and I am president and chief executive officer of Electricity Canada. As you know, I will share my time with my colleague Ms. Branigan, from Electricity Human Resources Canada.
Electricity Canada is the national voice of electricity in the country. Our members generate, transmit and distribute electrical energy to industrial, commercial and residential customers across Canada.
Electricity is Canada's energy future and a key economic environmental and social enabler that is essential to Canadian prosperity. The sector employs over 100,000 people and contributes over $30 billion to Canada's GDP. It's also among the cleanest in the world, with more than 80% of Canadian electricity already being produced from non-emitting sources.
The electricity sector is at the forefront of the energy transition. As a sector, we'll need to decarbonize and phase out our remaining high-emitting electricity generation. This means that parts of our workforce will need to transition. Ensuring an appropriate level of support to affected workers and communities is essential in ensuring that the transition is a just transition.
Electricity is also a high-growth sector. As Canada works toward its climate goals, electricity will enable other parts of the economy to decarbonize through electrification. This means tremendous changes to Canada's labour market. While this will create more jobs, it's vital that we ensure the development of new skill sets within the workforce to match them. Ensuring that we attract and expand the opportunities for under-represented groups within our sector's workforce is also a priority.
Finally, as our sector decarbonizes, we must ensure that electricity remains affordable. The federal government estimates that we'll need to double or triple the amount of clean electricity Canada produces by 2050. Our sector is also looking at how we're going to meet the government's ambition to build a net-zero electricity grid by 2035.
Today, May 9, 2022, marks only 4,985 days until we need to accomplish that objective. Meeting those goals will require substantial investments in electricity infrastructure and careful planning. We must work together and take the necessary time to ensure that the energy transition does not result in significant negative impacts on affordability for Canadians.
Our sector will be at the heart of a just transition.
We thank you for giving us an opportunity to participate in this important study.
I would now like to yield the floor to Ms. Branigan.
Thank you, committee members, for the opportunity to speak to you today.
My name is Michelle Branigan. I'm the CEO of EHRC, Electricity Human Resources Canada. Our role at EHRC is to keep the lights on by preparing and empowering a world-class workforce for the entire electricity industry. As a national non-profit, we are an unbiased convenor of stakeholders that work together to ensure that we have a workforce that is safety-focused, highly skilled, diverse and productive.
We conduct labour market research to understand what the supply and demand labour needs are for the sector, and then translate that into actionable programs to fill identified labour market gaps.
Electricity and Canada depend on its essential workers 24-7, but this is not a just-in-time industry. Over 80% of our workers work in highly technical jobs, such as the trades and engineering, and it can take five to 10 years to reach full competency in a role, especially in nuclear. We need to be able to plan well in advance for labour market needs. That's going to take coordination from employers, labour, policy-makers and educators to make sure that the electricity system can support new demand loads driven by increased electrification and, of course, innovation in our technology and our business processes, such as SMRs and energy storage.
As we transition away from fossil fuels to increased renewables and electrification, there is a need to make sure no one is left behind. There will be workers who will need to upskill or re-skill as jobs sunset or evolve, and we need to ensure those workers are given the opportunity and the support they need to do so. In addition, any transition to clean energy must be built upon inclusive policies. We have an ethical obligation to ensure that anybody in our society feels capable of pursuing a career, regardless of their gender, their background or any other parts of their identity.
To end, the sector has the potential to be a key enabler of the just transition, and we appreciate the opportunity to be engaged in this discussion today.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you to the committee for allowing me to appear today.
To begin my comments, I will provide brief details about Energy NL. We are an industry association representing approximately 460 companies and organizations involved in the energy sector. Our association has been involved in advocating for our members for 45 years now, and we just recently revised our vision, our mandate and our name to more accurately reflect the interests of our members and the evolving energy industry.
There is an evolution occurring as we prepare to evolve our energy sources. Now more than ever, this energy evolution is being driven by our understanding of energy and technological advancements as well as our skills and expertise. While oil and gas will continue to be a part of the energy mix for decades, we must find ways to ensure that emissions are minimized and that the industry is a leader in our collective efforts towards net zero.
That is where the product of offshore Newfoundland and Labrador is most important. Our oil is 30% below the global average for emissions at extraction. As we work diligently toward net zero, this product should play a leading role.
As we discuss the objective of the federal government to provide a just transition for workers, we must keep in mind the lower emission properties of our offshore, and we must keep in mind the regional differences of our nation and our energy sources. They are not all one and the same.
We must recognize that a just transition for workers may look different in eastern Canada than it does in central Canada, than it does in western Canada, than it does in northern Canada. As outlined in the Energy NL written submission on the just transition for workers discussion paper, our offshore industry employs a highly educated workforce with specialized expertise.
When you consider the 2021 direct employment for just one of Newfoundland and Labrador's producing offshore projects, Hebron, at least 82% of the direct full-time equivalent positions can be considered skilled labour. These are highly specialized, highly paid and highly motivated individuals.
Messaging from governments around transition is important, as messaging that implies an immediate shift has the potential to create uncertainty, deter much-needed investment in the short term to medium term, disrupt livelihoods and impact on the mental health of workers and business owners. Recognition also needs to occur that opportunities for renewable energy development may not provide the same level of employment or incomes as the oil and gas industry, and may not occur in the same geographic areas. Thus, the economic benefits to people and communities may not be the same.
In that context, for the advisory board proposed in the just transition discussion paper, governments, regulators and all industry stakeholders, including the private sector, industry associations, labour groups, education, training and research institutions and organizations that represent diversity in the workforce, should have a role and a voice at the table. Each province should have its own advisory board.
A just transition will require planning and extensive consultation with industry. Technology development and adaptation will also be needed for Canada to reach net zero, and this will certainly require government program support. Coinciding with this, training of workers to enhance their capabilities to work in the digital workplace will also help to lower emissions and ease any potential transition.
There is also a responsibility for governments and businesses to ensure that all Canadian industries are preparing for net zero and find solutions to lower their carbon outputs. This is a cross-sector issue, one we must collectively combat.
I must also say that Energy NL has confidence in the federal Minister of Labour, our own , who is keenly aware of the issues facing workers in the natural resource sector.
To conclude my comments, I will highlight the recommendations of Energy NL.
Differences in regions, including various energy products produced as well as locations of workers, must be recognized. A one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice.
Energy NL recommends that each province have an advisory board composed of government, industry, labour and other invested stakeholders. As part of this, a labour market assessment of each province should occur, with consideration given to impacts on communities.
We recommend that the Government of Canada financially support the research, development, demonstration, implementation and adaptation of technology to help our sectors achieve net zero, as well as support the training of workers to enhance their capabilities to work in the digital work space.
Governments must be mindful of the impact their statements about transition has on workers, communities and companies. All industries, not just the oil and gas industry, must do their part to help us achieve net zero and provide a just transition for workers.
Energy NL also recommends that the approach of the Government of Canada be wholesome, including departments and agencies beyond Natural Resources Canada.
Again, thank you for your time and I look forward to discussing this matter further.
Thank you, Chair and committee members.
I'd like to start off by acknowledging that I work, live and play on the traditional and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Communities across Canada face increasingly critical times, leaving the most vulnerable even more precariously situated. Canada's economy faces three challenges: recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, decarbonizing our economy, and addressing inequality to ensure a prosperous transition for all.
At Iron and Earth we are fossil fuel workers and friends and family of those in the energy industry. Fossil fuel workers bring a wealth of technical experience that must be harnessed to create a fair and equitable energy transition, but workers face challenges to this energy transition. With a lack of access to opportunities, many workers are worried that if they don't receive training and/or career support, they will be left behind in this transition, even with a deep desire to participate in the net-zero economy.
Canada needs to invest in upgrading our workforce, businesses and infrastructure, and revitalizing our environment. In response to the just transition, Iron and Earth created the four-point prosperous transition plan, with an emphasis on indigenous peoples, fossil fuel industry workers and energy communities at the forefront of the conversation. The four points are, first, upskilling initiatives that include hands-on, real-life work experience and prioritizing access for indigenous workers and workers who currently face barriers to participating in the industry; second, repositioning initiatives to support businesses to retool manufacturing capacities and pivot services to meet emerging demand in net-zero industries; third, retrofitting and repurposing initiatives to reduce the carbon intensity of long-term infrastructure and repurposing old infrastructure; and, lastly, indigenous-led climate solutions that address climate mitigation, adaptation and restoration.
Iron and Earth has also developed a just transition implementation program where we listen to fossil fuel industry workers and their communities, as well as indigenous peoples from different communities and nations. The program meets people where they are at and centres the most vulnerable and those who tend to be left out of the main narratives at the forefront: those racialized, gendered, housing-insecure and underemployed, among others. We include voices who are critical to the transition, as well as those who are against any new developments in their communities. The goal is to go beyond consultations and to truly listen to communities and workers by creating ongoing conversations.
This program should be used as a model for the just transition implementation in every energy community across Canada to show workers and their community what a just transition will mean for them, focusing on the local economy, job opportunities and available resources such as upskilling programs and the climate career portal.
There is also a need for consistent messaging from the government. It is confusing to hear that the Bay du Nord, a major offshore fossil fuel project, was approved shortly after a very green forward budget was announced and while intergovernmental agencies such as the IPCC are calling for an end to all new fossil fuel projects. It makes it difficult for workers, their families and communities to know who and what to listen to. Begin a fair and equitable energy transition, a just transition, by having clear and consistent messaging across all sectors of the government.
This leads me to my next point, which is that there must be coordination between all levels of government from the municipal and provincial to the federal levels. We already face barriers to clean energy project developments because of differing laws at each government level. Currently, there are several ministries at the federal level that play a part in the just transition, but no central ministry, group or committee that oversees the development, management and implementation of just transition policy in Canada. It is essential that this group not be an advisory board, because advice can be ignored. Rather, this group needs to have the authority to ensure workers' needs are centred and shape the legislation.
To summarize, to create a fair and equitable energy transition start with communities, involve everyone and listen. Dedicate funding and resources towards a national upskilling initiative. Create career opportunities through repositioning businesses, retrofitting and repurposing infrastructure, and indigenous-led climate solutions. Create a central government authority on the just transition legislation creation, management and implementation. Above all, be clear and consistent with all messaging.
Thank you. That's a great question.
There will be jobs in energy production, whether that's clean hydrogen or electricity transmission, etc. These are highly skilled and well-paid jobs. There will be jobs in transportation as well. I brought up the whole piece about transitioning to electric vehicles in the auto sector, and we're already seeing a huge number of jobs there, which is forecast to be growing.
Another area is buildings in terms of retrofits and installation of HVAC systems. There's actually the potential for enormous numbers of jobs for electricians and construction workers, etc., as we retrofit and renovate our building stock to be more efficient and transition it into cleaner sources of energy such as electric heat pumps and cooling systems.
Then there are a couple of other areas of jobs growth, as I mentioned, around batteries. I'm not able to provide you with exact numbers there from the mining sector for the critical metals and minerals up to refining. Canada could do more refining in order to feed into the cathode, anode and cell development and the building out of the whole battery supply, linking in with the auto sector. In the last six months, we've seen that Canada has actually really started to land some of those big projects and the jobs that go with them.
As is the case in the fossil fuel sector or any sector, when you're building clean energy projects, they create thousands of jobs in the construction phase and then they continue with ongoing jobs. There's been a report out of Iron and Earth in the U.S.—and I'm really keen for Iron and Earth in Canada do one as well—that shows that there's about a 90% skill transition between our existing energy workers and the clean energy workers of the future.
However, I do support exactly what was said around upskilling and helping position people for those jobs.
Similar to Merran's comments, when you look at the growth in the number of EVs on our roads, that's going to necessitate more EV installers, for example. It's also going to necessitate people working in sales and marketing to communicate the value of electrical vehicles to the consumer, to ensure that the consumer is ready to adapt. That's something that's important in that arena.
Again, when you move to buildings and look at energy efficiency refits, etc., there are going to be new jobs created all along the supply chain. If you look backward at how our generation has evolved to include wind and solar, our workforce now includes wind and solar technicians in a way that it didn't a decade ago.
Research and development jobs are going to be important, particularly when you look at the energy storage that's going to be required to handle the Canadian climate. Look at SMRs and what skills and competencies are going to be required to manage the large-scale adoption. We are now going to see our first SMR deployments in 2027 and 2028 in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
All of these jobs are going to require pretty unique skills and competencies to ensure that we have the workforce we need. To give an example, we developed about a month ago—
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to all the witnesses who have joined us today. I've really enjoyed what you've had to say, but I have some deeply concerning questions. I want to preface my questions with my experience.
I really want to thank my colleague, the previous speaker, who really outlined the seriousness of the issues present to Canada, particularly with our economy as we contemplate massive amounts of money to bail out these companies, particularly the companies Ms. Joseph represents, which I've had experience with. I used to work for many of those companies, actually. I come from the Cold Lake oil sands. I worked in the oil sands. I want to talk to you a little bit about the companies that are asking for partnership with Canada and about how they've treated my community.
I am originally from the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, which is an indigenous community that is currently still asking those oil companies to pay their taxes, just like many rural municipalities in Alberta right now. The president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta association said that there are $253 million of unpaid taxes owed to rural communities in Alberta. These communities are predominantly indigenous and they need that money. They need to be able to pay for roads, services and basic things, but these companies are putting that debt—that unpaid tax burden—on regular, everyday people. It's killing communities.
I want to go further. These projects don't kill only communities. They affect families. I want to thank the witness from Iron and Earth for talking about families and workers. My father and I were energy workers. My father died on an energy site. Do you know what CNRL said? They said to take a hike. That is workers today.
Now they're asking for a partnership with the government. Since when do we partner with criminals?
It's absolutely unfair to the men and the women who work in these communities and to their families to be shackled to companies that don't want to pay their fair share, pay for their communities or pay for the basic programs and benefits that every worker deserves.
That's partly why I'm here today. It's to talk about that. This is a study on fairness and on equality. We've only talked about handing out money here. What about the families who need that money?
Ms. Joseph, these companies have made billions. The previous speaker mentioned $3.3 billion and still they want money. These companies aren't even paying their taxes. They're paying shareholders with that money. These are not good partnerships.
Ms. Joseph, when it comes to making sure that these communities have what they need, will you communicate to those members of your association to pay their fair share in Alberta? People aren't getting ahead. Are they going to pay their taxes?
This is my time. I'm sorry, Ms. Joseph.
These companies need to demonstrate that they are good fiscal partners. These communities are suffering from massive infrastructure deficits.
I was a national director for the Métis Settlements in northern Alberta when the Chuckegg Creek wildfire went through. Almost every asset in that community that was met was at risk. We lost 15 houses. Do you know what the companies operating in that community went to defend first? Their oil assets, not the communities.
We're talking about the public dollar, the use of fairness and the use of equity in this study. We need to consider the fact that these companies have not paid their fair share and have allowed workers, families and rural municipalities to literally pay the price. That $253 million could have gone to people who are struggling right now, and we can't even get a clear answer for whether they're going to pay their taxes.
How is that equitable? How is that a future for Canadians?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to each of the witnesses who appeared here today. I found what each of you had to say very informative.
Being from Atlantic Canada, from New Brunswick, let me start by saying that I would like to say thank you to those in the energy sector across the country and to the workers who have worked in that sector, many of whom travelled from Atlantic Canada out to the west to work and then came back and were able to help provide for their families.
Also, through transfer payments, we were able to have those kinds of health care services maintained in our province, schools continued to be built and we were able to have infrastructure, due in large part to those in our energy sectors.
I say thank you. Thank you for taking the time and coming here today and sharing your perspectives. We do appreciate that.
I have some perhaps rapid-fire questions for a few of the witnesses.
I'll start with you, Mr. McTeague.
Canada has amazing potential in the resource sector. We have some of the best environmental regulations in the world related to energy extraction and resource development, and the world is wanting more Canadian energy. They are demanding more Canadian energy.
What I'm hearing back home from folks in my region in Atlantic Canada is this: Why aren't we supplying the world with more Canadian energy when they're demanding it? Why can't we replace dictator oil with good democratic oil and energy resources when the world so desperately needs it and help transition the world from coal in certain regions, perhaps, over to good Canadian liquefied natural gas?
I wonder if you could speak to that and then be followed up by Ms. Johnson as quickly as possible, because I have several questions.
Mr. McTeague, it's over to you.
I think Canadians, for some time, have been able to take for granted cheap affordable energy, but we have seen policies consistently from this Parliament that have done significant damage, in terms of being able to achieve the ability for us not only to get our product to international markets but, most importantly, to help Canadians.
You don't have to go much further than looking at the value of the Canadian dollar. The last time we saw hundred-dollar oil, we saw the Canadian dollar at par with the U.S. greenback. We price everything based on that currency, and it's for that reason that Canadians continuously and consistently find themselves falling behind.
Make no mistake. When the world is saying, “We need more energy”, the alternative being Russia, the alternative being Iran, the alternative being Saudi Arabia and the alternative being, to some extent, Venezuela, it really behooves all leaders in this country to recognize the importance of our energy.
While it's not perfect, we don't do enough to celebrate the fact that we have a pretty significant clean menu of energy options. The last thing we should be doing is allowing other countries to menace the security of the world by using oil and natural gas.
Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. McTeague.
I want to go on from that particular aspect to the kinds of jobs the energy sector provides and the types of wages it provides. When we talk about what we're looking at transitioning to, my understanding is that, on a cold day in the winter in Alberta, solar and wind would be able to carry about 1% of the baseload of the energy needs of Albertans.
As much as we want to move in that direction—and it's great that there's alternative energy online—the realities are that it's not ready to replace what we are relying upon for energy. I think there's a great Canadian energy story to be told, and that also applies to us in the east.
I want to talk to Ms. Johnson.
How important is the energy sector to our region's economy through employment and also helping our regions prosper, which have been known as have-not regions? It has helped to transition our region to a part that could actually be contributing to the overall economy of Canada and growing and prospering.
As I've said, there's huge potential for jobs across this country in both energy as well as in low-carbon industries, things like increasing our mining sector, increasing manufacturing of things like batteries and things that really fit with Canada and what Canada has, such as our critical metals and minerals, for example, and our clean electricity.
I want to stress one thing: Canada is not in control of the energy transition. In fact, it's a global event that's happening. What we're seeing right now with the crisis in Ukraine and Russia is a short-term crisis around energy supply, primarily oil and gas, but it's also spurred the EU, which has been the leader in the energy transition, to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels. I really think that foreshadows where the global economy is heading. For this committee's discussion, we really need to be thinking about where the puck is going.
I live here in British Columbia where we're building LNG Canada. I think it will be coming online in 2025. It will be producing liquefied natural gas for export. That project has been years in the making, and, I think, if we look at what the IEA is projecting, they are projecting that we are already at peak oil demand right now, and, while gas will continue to increase, we reach peak gas around 2035.
Let's look at what we are going to be investing in now to set us up for those jobs of the future. Those energies are clean electricity, storage—whether batteries or other forms of storage—and hydrogen. Here's an opportunity to take advantage of Canada's assets right now. Blue hydrogen is what's being invested in, in a number of cases, which uses our natural gas. Once we have built out more of our clean electricity supplies, we can make that hydrogen out of water and clean electricity, and that's going to be an export product.
Those are the big issues of the day that you, as politicians, will have to deal with, but I can tell you from experience here in Ontario, a province that has a significant amount of clean energy already produced, the cost has been significant. The Province of Ontario has picked up $6.5 billion every year to defray the cost of so-called green energy.
By the way, green energy in my province has not yielded those transitional jobs. Quite to the contrary, we've seen an exit of jobs in the energy sector. That aside, I think what we're doing here is perhaps ignoring the bigger picture. Those opportunities exist if the subsidies continue to be there. We're dealing with your government or a government of Parliament that is sitting on some of the biggest record debts that I've seen in my time. I served as a member of Parliament trying to slay those very large deficits that became unwieldy.
I think we can make this transition that people keep talking about, but it's not going to happen because you decide 2030 is the day or 2050 is the day. Many countries are having second thoughts about pursuing this direction, because it's not only costly. It's now brought the world into a far more dangerous position of security, and energy security, in particular.
By the way, what happened in Europe as far as Russia is concerned—long before Russia met the troops on the border of Ukraine—is we had a very serious problem with energy and supply. A lot of that was due to the fact that energy companies have been told not to invest in oil and gas. We don't want any more. The International Energy Agency last year said we don't need any more oil and we should stop making fossil fuels altogether. Let's get rid of it. Two weeks later, they got their data wrong and said, “Wait a minute. OPEC, please provide us a little bit more oil”.
We can't have policies based on wishful thinking. We have to be practical and pragmatic, and being pragmatic today means you start listening to the consumers out there who can't make ends meet.
I just think we need to be pragmatic. The point is that we can achieve these things, but we're going to achieve them by understanding the limitations of the current technology that's there. We can all want a greater and more prosperous future, but we're not going to get there if we simply throw the baby out with the bathwater.
In order to get to that next stage in the next 10, 20, 50, 100 or 150 years, I think we have to recognize that Canada with its technologies is the way ahead. We can provide that to other countries as well, but we can't do it by simply saying, “Oil companies made a lot of money this year.” Of course they made money this year, because they're being told not to reinvest. Of course natural gas companies can provide an opportunity to alleviate the situation in Europe and in Asia, but we consistently have said no to pipelines and no to infrastructure while we focus uniquely on something that is not yet workable.
I don't disagree with the need to do these things. I just think rushing as we have been doing, and not following what's happened in Europe, is, to put it very bluntly, short-sighted.
I'm sorry. I'm jumping around here on a few different topics, but there's a lot I want to get in, in a short period of time.
We heard as well from some of the witnesses in committee, or at least seemingly we had some witnesses who seemed to take the approach, that either you're on the side of the environment or you're on the side of Canadian jobs, and there's no in between. I would happen to disagree with that. I think there's certainly a lot of benefit to supporting Canadian jobs and Canadian industries, especially from the environmental side. I think we talk about some of the energy from regimes like Russia and others, but further from the global security standpoint I think there's an environmental conversation we need to have as well. I know first-hand from some of the opportunities I've had to do some tours, particularly in northern Alberta, about some of the great work that our energy sector is doing to be more efficient and greener.
I'm wondering if you can comment on some of those efforts as well.
Yes, there are challenges in all aspects of this, certainly with respect to generation. The reality is that it is more challenging today than it was 10 years ago to build infrastructure. The challenges of siting, the challenges of seeking approvals, the complexity of this work has simply increased. That's just the reality that we need to deal with, and it's something that everybody in the sector is addressing.
We are going to require, yes, two to three times more clean electricity. It will be a combination of large-scale grid generation and small-scale distributed-energy resources and community-level resources. Much of the infrastructure, though, will also need to be built out as well from a transmission standpoint. The challenge with respect to transmission is that we do not have an effective subnational coordination function for the planning and construction of transmission at a regional basis. These are done at a provincial basis only.
We recently had some research that we commissioned that looked at other jurisdictions that have been more successful at building transmission infrastructure and some lessons learned that we might be able to apply in Canada, and we'll provide that to the committee.
Mike, thank you for that.
Look, I think we have to recognize that the so-called transition for workers was attempted here in Ontario. It didn't work out so well, and many of those workers are still looking for work and have gone back to traditional industries.
We have to recognize that the amount of money that's being committed for subsidies better have an end, because if you need subsidies to encourage people to buy something, subsidies for them to build something and subsidies for them to maintain something, sooner or later something is going to give. I can tell you, with gas at two dollars a litre across Canada today, they're aren't many people who are not prepared to accept that we've gone down, I think, a little too quickly on this idea that we can suddenly wish away fossil fuels and, at the same time, provide people a standard of living they've come to expect.
We're not perfect, but we're better than most countries. In that context, I think you have to be very careful at how quickly you tread because, I think, at this point, burdening people with the cost of heating, electricity, natural gas and other important factors in our society isn't just hurting Canadians. You're hurting the world and depriving it of what it desperately needs and what Canada can produce. I think we all win in that respect, but understand that the ability to make this transition can't be done because some people just simply say that's the way we have to go.
As for the science, I'm convinced. I'm up with people like Steven Koonin and his book Unsettled, and there are many others who will say that.
There's a lot of debate and discussion there. I'm willing to listen to it, but I'm also prepared to say that we can't throw out the baby with the bathwater. We have to stand up for Canadians and ensure that Canadians are doing the right thing, the most responsible thing, without hurting them.
That was created by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations. You described the report as “anti-fossil fuel alarmism”. I bring that up because I wonder why you're here, Mr. McTeague.
I don't see any expertise in just transition, but in climate change denial, you can't be beat.
I have you on Twitter saying, “many Canadians are clinging to the false narrative of a climate 'emergency'” and “Nothing to see here Canadians—just the bitter harvest of our climate alarmist appeasement”. Appeasement strikes me as amazing. Then you go on to say from another blog, and you kind of alluded to it here, that “ the science of climate change is anything but settled, and that we are not in, nor should we anticipate, a crisis.”
I was actually not surprised that the Conservatives intervened because their whole position here has been to deny climate science, so they got a guy whose Twitter feed is of full of ridiculing the crisis and calling it “woke capitalism”. The fact that he's claiming that there is no science on this is ridiculous. It's something that will go well with the Conservatives. I was actually trying to figure out where Mr. McTeague gets his science from.
He says that “people are waking up”. He refers to “the gilets jaunes” in France—the yellow vesters. I kind of remembered them, so I looked them up. CNN says the yellow vesters are fanning the flames of anti-Semitism in France. ABC says that the yellow vesters are “dogged by intolerance [and] extremism”. France 24 says violence is seen as legitimate by the yellow vesters.
I want it on the record that the person they brought here to represent their interests on affordability says that the people we need to be learning from are the extremists in France who believe that violence is okay. He says that science is ridiculous and that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a group of extremists.
Enough said. Thanks. I don't need any more time.
Of course, we have to recognize that when we're comparing strictly some renewables such as solar or, in this case, wind, they are not effective unless they are backed up, usually by natural gas, or as I think Ms. Smith has pointed out, by other electrical means. In my province, of course, that would mean nuclear.
I think the issue for many of us, however, is that we are seeing a circumstance where the reality of high-cost renewables is skewing to the upside the costs for ratepayers, not just for the cost of hydro in and of itself, but also—
It's so important to bring the entire community in, because you need to have everybody's voices. It's not going to be a singular person who is transitioning. This energy transition is going to bring everybody along, and it is going to happen.
If I can make one point, in my organization, we work with a lot of remote and indigenous communities, and I've heard some people say today that Canada has had cheap, affordable energy. Perhaps it has, if you've been living in metropolitan areas, but I speak with people who live on reserves and they pay $500 to $700 a month for electricity. It's mad how much they pay. Energy cannot be considered cheap and affordable when a quarter of your pay is going toward electricity.
Things like this are why it's necessary to bring the entire community along, because it affects everybody. If you're putting up a solar farm or wind turbines, you're having a geothermal plant or you're doing heat pumps or retrofits.... Retrofits are so important, especially on remote communities, because they live in insufficient housing. These houses already need more energy to heat up, cool down and just to run.
It is a community problem. Perhaps we don't see that because we don't live in these kinds of communities, but it is a community problem.
With that, folks, we're out of time.
I really would like to thank all of the witnesses for being here with us today. Your testimony has been very helpful, even with some of the exciting exchanges. We have some really good information, and I appreciate the information you provided that will help inform our report, which we're hoping to get done before the end of the session.
I'm hoping the members will indulge me. We have the resources available to us for five minutes, and I have three quick things I'd like to try to address.
We can let the witnesses go now, with a huge “thank you” for your support.
The first item I wanted to share with the committee members is to Charlie's point. We have the Canadian Labour Congress scheduled to appear on May 16, so they are on the list.
The second thing is that a few people had requested to attend the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada's mineral exploration and mining convention. Today is the deadline for us to approve anyone attending, and it has to be submitted by tomorrow to be approved at the Liaison Committee by Friday.
We haven't had a chance to canvass all of the committee members. We've developed a budget for the full committee to go, and that was circulated to people during question period today. You should have had a chance to look at it. I'm wondering if I can get somebody to move this and then we'll vote on putting it forward. We will then canvass people, and we can always reduce it. It's easier to do that, as opposed to doing a smaller budget and approving it upward.
Go ahead, Charlie.
The last item I had, and this is outstanding from quite a while ago—it had also been circulated—was that we had a subcommittee on agenda and procedure of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. We met on March 28. There were six items.
I don't know if people have looked at that recently. A whole bunch of items have already passed. The one that is probably most pressing is pulling forward the study we had on the low-carbon and renewable fuels industry in Canada. In order for us to look at that, I need to get this subcommittee report adopted.
I'm wondering if someone willing to move that or if there's any discussion.
Mr. Charlie Angus: So moved.
The Chair: Is there any discussion?
Is everybody willing to vote on that? It's the adoption of the report.
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Thanks, everybody. We'll see you on Wednesday.
The meeting is adjourned.