Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It's a pleasure to be here today to discuss the main estimates and talk a little about my mandate letter and what it means for Canadians. Following my remarks, my chief financial officer, Marty Muldoon, will provide a brief presentation on these estimates, which I think will be useful for the committee.
As Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I am responsible for managing Canada's fisheries and aquaculture, protecting mariners, and safeguarding our waters. A big part of my job is making strategic investments and ensuring strong financial management within my portfolio. Marty will go into a bit more detail on what's in DFO's and the Coast Guard's 2016-17 main estimates, which total $2.2 billion. This figure represents a 19% increase over last year, and is mainly due to funding for infrastructure projects and acquiring Coast Guard vessels.
To be more specific, I'm seeking $809.7 million in capital, mostly for the procurement of fleet, machinery, and equipment; $65.5 million in grants and contributions, mostly to support our aboriginal strategies and governance program as well as our fisheries protection program; and $1.2 billion in operating, for salaries and other operating expenditures. Additional funding that's related to the recently tabled budget will be sought through supplementary estimates.
While I have your attention, I want to speak about what budget 2016 means for my department and how it relates to my mandate. Over $197 million was set aside for ocean and freshwater science, monitoring, and research activities. This represents the fulfillment of a key commitment and the largest investment of its kind in fisheries and oceans science in a generation. This funding will allow us to hire new research scientists, biologists, and technicians; invest in new technology; and build important partnerships. Taken together, it will help us make more informed decisions about our oceans, waterways, and fisheries.
DFO, along with Natural Resources Canada, will receive over $81 million for important marine conservation activities, including designating new marine protected areas under the Oceans Act. We will also receive funding to maintain and upgrade federal infrastructure properties, such as Canadian Coast Guard bases. An additional $149 million will help improve infrastructure at federally owned small craft harbours.
DFO is one of seven departments and agencies that will share over $129 million to help our infrastructure adapt to a changing climate and help communities become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
In terms of investments for indigenous peoples, DFO will receive over $33 million to extend the Atlantic and Pacific integrated commercial fisheries initiatives. This program will help first nations access commercial fisheries and build sustainable commercial fishing enterprises. Northerners, including Inuit, will also receive $40 million in federal funding to help build strong, diversified, and sustainable economies across the three territories. One area that will benefit from this investment is the fisheries sector.
In terms of Coast Guard investments, reopening the Kitsilano Coast Guard facility in Vancouver is a top priority. Over $23 million was set aside in the budget to reopen Kitsilano and expand its search and rescue services to include marine emergency response. The facility will also provide emergency response training to our partners, including indigenous groups, and serve as a regional incident command post in the event of a significant marine incident.
The Coast Guard will also receive $6 million to carry out technical assessment of the Manolis L, a shipwreck off of Newfoundland and Labrador, which began leaking fuel in 2013. Funding for this assessment will help us to find a permanent solution to this issue.
The Coast Guard was identified as one of several departments requiring additional funding to carry out critical mission services. A $500-million fund managed by Treasury Board will help us address things like acid rust-out. Once funding decisions are made, amounts will be submitted for parliamentary approval through the estimates process.
I sincerely believe that the funding I'm seeking through the main estimates, along with the funding laid out in the budget, will help me achieve my mandate and put Canada on the path to shared prosperity and a cleaner and greener economy.
Before I turn the floor over to Mr. Muldoon, I just want to say I appreciate everyone running down here after votes today. I know it took some scheduling challenges to finally get here, but I'm glad I'm here and look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
As I said in my opening comments, our recent budget announcement of $197 million over five years starting this coming year is the single biggest investment in ocean science in a generation, and I think that shows we are committed to ensure that we have the resources we need to be able to do adequate science and to be able to make evidence-based, science-based decisions. As I said, I don't want to just bring it back to how it was. The Prime Minister always said better is always possible. I'm looking at ways to try to partner up. Everyone else does science, so why do we have to reinvent the wheel? Someone else is doing it; maybe we can find ways where we can partner up. We can have a partner, give them $20,000 towards a science project, and they can turn it into $100,000 worth of science, so we get more bang for our buck, and again, a broader base of science in order to make decisions from.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Absolutely. Thank you.
The Atlantic salmon stocks have been steadily declining. I think there has been probably close to a 70% decline since 1971. In 2014, as I'm sure you're aware, some areas, such as the Miramichi River, had the lowest returns on record. Many of the salmon stocks have been assessed as being endangered.
Rebuilding these stocks will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders. Until the science shows us anything different, we'll continue with no retention of Atlantic salmon in the Gulf region. I'm hoping that, with our investment in science in this budget, we'll be able to gather more specific information in order to be able, hopefully, to reassess that decision in the future.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Over the coming months the department will be focusing on three main areas, one looking at increasing in-river monitoring of salmon returns on selected rivers, one doing more science on understanding survival at sea, and one working with the Atlantic salmon science community to contribute to effective salmon management and conservation.
I met with the anglers when I was out in New Brunswick. Everyone does science, and everyone wants to help to bring it back. We look forward to working with those groups to try to get the best information we can to move forward.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
The evidence, as far as the science on biomass, is down. That's not a secret, and you are correct that the inshore and the offshore are polar opposites on last in, first out policy. We made a commitment to review that policy. I've met with them, but the one thing they do have in common is they both want to ensure the sustainability of the stock for the future. It's in both their interests, so they can use that as a building block. They do have something in common.
I assured them it would be set up as a minister's advisory panel. It would be independent, it would be done in an open and transparent manner, and the panel would do its consultations, do its work, and provide me with a report. I'm hoping to have that report by the end of June. No decision is going to be made on any allocation for SFA6 until after that.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Yes, I know we have a peer-reviewed science process right now where we'll get data, and that has helped us in a number of areas. Whenever we do our science it's shared around with other groups to be able to review and ensure that we got it right. Let's ask Ms. MacLean if she would like to elaborate on that.
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