Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise to speak on important issues, and this important environmental issue is one that the Government of Canada brought to the fore last week to get some feedback on from members on all sides of the House.
Environmental issues have been there virtually since day one of our government. Many proactive measures have been taken by the government, both in legislative and budgetary measures, to ensure that we are responding to what we believe is an emergency situation for climate not only here in Canada but around the world.
In fact, as one of our first initiatives, we had the Prime Minister, ministers and premiers attend the Paris summit back in 2015, which was kind of a starting point for the Government of Canada to show that we wanted to demonstrate strong leadership on the environmental file. Therefore, I think it somewhat appropriate that three and a half years later we are now having this debate. Members can reflect on what has actually taken place over the last three and a half years. We have a government that has in fact given this issue a great deal more attention than Stephen Harper did in the previous 10 years.
In Paris, we had political regimes of all different types convene. They talked about ways we can reduce emissions, among many other things. One of the things that ultimately came out of that conference was the need for governments to come up with initiatives that would have a positive impact in reducing emissions. This is where we, as a national government, put together a good, solid group of individuals. That led ultimately, from what I recall, to a conference in British Columbia. Through that, we achieved, I would argue, somewhat of a historic agreement. We had provinces from all regions of our country and the federal government saying that a price on pollution was one of the ways we can have a profoundly positive impact on our environment going forward.
At the end of the day, it received fairly widespread support. Inside the House we had the Green Party, the New Democrats and, obviously, the governing Liberals very supportive of that particular policy initiative. The Conservative Party, at the time, right from the word go, opposed the concept of a price on pollution, which we found somewhat disappointing, but not necessarily surprising given their previous 10 years in government. I would like to think that the official opposition would recognize ideas that are in fact of benefit, and I would suggest that this is one of those ideas that could really make a difference. Generally speaking, I believe it has been well received in all regions of our country.
The idea of a price on pollution is not new. Many provinces have had it for a number of years. My colleague who spoke previously is from British Columbia, and British Columbia has had it for over 10 years. For those who are following what is taking place in the province of British Columbia, relatively speaking, its economy has been doing quite well over the last decade since it implemented a price on pollution. We can look at Quebec, which has also had a price on pollution for a number of years, yet we do not necessarily hear from Quebec politicians that it is a bad thing.
I believe that even the people of Quebec, including members of Parliament on the Conservative side who are from Quebec, have not been critical of the Province of Quebec for having a price on pollution. If I am wrong, I challenge Conservative members from the province of Quebec to tell the people of Quebec that the province needs to get rid of the price on pollution.
Different regions and different political parties have, in fact, been supportive of this idea because it is the right way to move forward. A vast majority of the constituents I represent in Winnipeg North will benefit financially from the implementation of a price on pollution. They are receiving that through the tax rebate, the tax incentive. At the end of the day, a vast majority of the constituents I represent, I believe somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80% to 85%, will be better off financially. Only a much smaller percentage of people, those who consume much more, will end up paying more.
I believe that Canadians as a whole understand and appreciate what is behind a price on pollution and are therefore supportive of it. It is a major initiative.
Another thing I want to reference is the low-carbon economy challenge fund. It has been criticized by the Conservatives and, to a certain degree, by my New Democrat friends, which somewhat surprises me. What I like about this particular fund created by the government is that it provides a financial incentive for non-profit groups, governments of different levels and the private sector to participate in coming up with ideas that will make a difference in reducing emissions. I believe some 54 projects were approved, which has ultimately led to a commitment of well over $400 million.
Some may wonder why I would bring up the issue related to Loblaws. When I look at the Loblaws contract, I find it to be very compelling, as it was a good agreement. It was one of 50-plus that were fairly effective. We are contributing 25% of a $40-million-plus project that is going to change refrigeration in a number of stores in all regions of our country. The technology being used for that is coming from the province of Ontario, Mississauga, I believe. At the end of the day, I believe we will have a much healthier industry, an industry led by a Canadian company that is providing good middle-class jobs.
At the same time, that one project's effect will be equivalent to taking 50,000 vehicles off the roads on an annual basis. That is about the size of Brandon, Manitoba, the second-largest city in the province I represent. To me, that will have a real, significant impact.
It appears that, as a government, we are the only party recognizing that when we make agreements and try to further reduce emissions, we are prepared to work with the private sector and different levels of government, which that $450-million fund demonstrates. This government is committed to working with different stakeholders to look at ways to reduce emissions.
What it all boils down, whether in regard to the price on pollution or the particular fund I referred to, is that for the first time in more than 10 years, Canada has a government committed to demonstrating strong national leadership and is prepared to work with different stakeholders, both private and public, to be sensitive to what Canadians are telling us, namely, that our environment is important and that there is a sense of emergency to the matter.