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View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-05-09 12:24 [p.27567]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on a question my colleague put to the hon. member. He raised the fact the TRC in a call to action specified that the government must finance the revitalization and protection of indigenous languages. The member responded that the law required that funding. However, the only place in the bill where there is anything about a provision of adequate sustainable funding is in the purposes.
A purposes provision is not a duty or an obligation. Therefore, the only part of the bill that provides anything of any substance is the establishment of the commissioner. That is the only place where I can see there is an entity created and there are certain duties of the commissioner. However, what about a duty to directly provide support to indigenous peoples themselves for the revitalization of, establishment of and ability to speak their languages?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-03-01 11:42 [p.26018]
Mr. Speaker, Edmonton's mayor, Don Iveson, is asking for $1.2 billion over five years for 5,000 new affordable housing units to begin to fill the need.
Our city's non-profit housing provider working group says over 48,000 households are in need. More than 22,000 of those spend more than half of their gross income on housing, putting them at risk of paying for their home or their essentials. Many of these projects are shovel ready, with land secured and buildings designed. All that is missing is for the government to release the federal dollars now. Will it?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-02-28 17:58 [p.25953]
Mr. Speaker, it is my absolute honour to rise today in support of Bill C-369.
It is also my honour to recognize that we are gathering today on the unceded territories of the Algonquin peoples.
This bill has been tabled by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. I wish to share here that I witnessed how powerful it was for her to finally deliver her first speech on another bill in her Dene language, a language shared by many in her riding and across our northern communities. Having travelled with her in her northern Saskatchewan riding last summer, I can attest to how important it is that she can now finally speak in this place in one of the indigenous languages spoken by her constituents back home. What a joy it was to experience her in her community with her fellow community members, speaking their indigenous languages.
The intention of this bill is to create a statutory holiday on September 30 each year, starting this year. This delivers on call to action 80, issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The title of the report, “Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future”, conveys the depth of the tragedy and the need for action.
It may be noted that the Prime Minister, early in his mandate, publicly committed to deliver on all 94 calls to action. Therefore, we need to be grateful that my colleague has brought forward the opportunity to deliver on at least one of them.
I want to read call to action 80. It states:
We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
It is my understanding and my hope that there is now multiple-party support by members in this place for this bill. I noted that my colleague, in speaking to her bill yesterday, reminded us that we are all responsible for becoming actively engaged in reconciliation.
The intent of the bill is therefore twofold: first, to recognize the continuing need for support for healing for survivors of the residential school system in recognition of the continued impacts down through generations, and to recognize it as a cultural genocide; and second, to directly inform and engage Canadians in knowledge of the residential school system and the harm it caused.
I wish to honour the dedication of the commissioners, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson, in undertaking the momentous process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is important to honour the many residential school survivors and their families who came forward to share their experiences.
The report conveys the principle that reconciliation is a relationship. I would like to share what the report says. It states:
For many Survivors and their families, this commitment is foremost about healing themselves, their communities, and nations, in ways that revitalize individuals as well as Indigenous cultures, languages, spirituality, laws, and governance systems. For governments, building a respectful relationship involves dismantling a centuries-old political and bureaucratic culture in which, all too often, policies and programs are still based on failed notions of assimilation.
My hon. colleague spoke to this when she spoke to this bill previously, and we were very close to the place where the residential school was unfortunately created.
It also states:
Schools must teach history in ways that foster mutual respect, empathy, and engagement. All Canadian children and youth deserve to know Canada’s honest history, including what happened in the residential schools, and to appreciate the rich history and knowledge of Indigenous nations who continue to make such a strong contribution to Canada, including our very name and collective identity as a country. For Canadians from all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together.
Canada already celebrates our first nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and languages every year on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is during the summer solstice. My understanding is that initially, my colleague proposed that it be that day. However, she has very graciously agreed to change her bill, so we are going to have a day of celebration in June during the solstice, and then we would have a day of recognition and learning at the end of September each year.
I have had the delight of attending many of the events on June 21 in my riding, joining in the round dances and attempting a jig. Who can resist another bannock burger? It is wonderful to see all the schoolchildren joining in those activities.
The day proposed by Bill C-369 would be a more solemn day, however, to learn about the sufferings of those who were torn from their families, forced to travel far from their families and stripped of their language, beliefs and cultures. For far too many, this was for their entire childhood.
As was pointed out by my colleague, it will be necessary that the government commit well in advance of September 20 this year the necessary funds to ensure that the intents are achieved and that there are clear plans for the day. It is absolutely important that this be in direct consultation with the first nation, Métis and Inuit peoples, in particular in the communities where the activities would occur, which I hope will be every community across this country. The intention is to honour the suffering and provide opportunities for teaching.
My colleague has asked that this day also be recognized as a time for reconciliation for those children torn from their language and culture during the sixties scoop and those from the day schools and boarding schools not yet recognized.
I have been inspired by the initiative of many indigenous people to engage us in the process of reconciliation. My dear friends Hunter and Jacquelyn Cardinal, children of my friend Lewis Cardinal, have founded the Edmonton company Naheyawin, which is reaching out through theatre, through the arts and through round tables to teach people about the treaties. It is a very important action that has not been done across this country. It is so important to my province, where we are the land of the historic treaties and there have been constant calls by first nations leaders for recognition of those treaties.
As Jacquelyn has shared, she wants people to move past feelings of guilt from past wrongs and focus on a better future. She wants people to get past the guilt many feel for the past and look forward to making things better. She hopes the round tables will be based on the Cree word tatawaw, which means, “There is room for you. Welcome.”
I am also very grateful that the famous Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival last year featured and honoured indigenous culture and incorporated many ceremonies to honour first nations, Métis and Inuit throughout the festival.
I am very grateful to my colleague, and I wish to thank her.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-09-27 16:44 [p.21952]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to share with the House that, yet again, View Magazine in Edmonton has chosen me to be its favourite member of Parliament in Edmonton. It is a great honour and I am humbled by it.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Essex.
I too will speak in support of the call of my colleague, the member for Saskatoon West, for rapid action on housing and homelessness, particularly the aspects raised in this motion, which are that 90% of the funding for the government's national housing strategy will not flow until after the next election and that most of the funding depends on collaboration with provincial governments and the private sector. However, equally so, my concern is that the government still refuses to honour proposals by my party.
Some of my colleagues tabled proposals in the House to make the right to housing a human right. The New Democrats will continue to raise that matter. I hear from my colleague across the way that Liberals are working on that, thinking about it and consulting on it. I am hoping to hear an action word on that before the end of the year.
According to Homeward Trust, a mechanism that deals with a lot of the problems with homelessness in my city, the number of people experiencing street homelessness was reported to have decreased substantially since 2008 when the numbers were at an all-time high. However, according to a 2016 homelessness count in my city, almost 2,000 people were still experiencing homelessness and indigenous individuals were nine times more likely to experience homelessness. I point that out because it is my understanding that the constitutional obligation to respect the rights of indigenous Canadians is not restricted to those living on reserve, but indigenous Canadians no matter where they live in our country. Seventy-four per cent were male, 25% were female and 48% were identified as indigenous, yet only 5.4% of Edmonton's overall population identify as indigenous. That is of deep concern.
There is a critical need for housing to be provided to indigenous Edmontonians and the numbers are rising. Edmonton has one of the largest populations of indigenous people in Canada, and it is terrific to have them. Yesterday, we honoured a Métis poet from Alberta, who is a Rhodes scholar. It is important that indigenous Canadians also be provided the opportunity for decent housing.
Twenty-nine per cent of the homeless population is under the age of 18 in Edmonton. Women make up 40% of those provisionally accommodated. Apparently that means people who are couch surfing. Three per cent were recent immigrants or refugees, which is reprehensible, and 70 people were veterans of the military or RCMP. However, based on my personal observations during the heat wave this summer, I was delivering clothing to one of the homeless shelters, the Bissell Centre on the north side of the river, and to my horror, I discovered several hundred people trying to sit in the shade to get out of the heat.
I went home and came back with cases of water, only to discover the new Mustard Seed shelter across from my office also had 50 to 100 people trying to seek some kind of shelter from the heat. Right now, the Mustard Seed is trying to get support for the only housing shelter for the homeless on the south side of the river, an ongoing struggle. It is not enough just to give money. We need community support that would benefit those less fortunate.
Julian Daly, who is the executive director of the Boyle Street centre and has been delivering services for the homeless for decades, also contests these lower numbers. He says that based on his direct observance, the need is far greater than the one-off counts. In 2016, he advised the count could merely be seen as anecdotal and did not reflect what workers saw on the front lines. They found 800 people living rough in the river valley, a 43% increase, and from my experience because I live in the area, most of them are indigenous. He also suggested another key indicator of the homeless was the doubling of people using Boyle Street Community Services as their mailing address. Therefore, they have no place to even receive mail. It is difficult to seek employment when people do even not have a place to receive mail. When applying for jobs, people have to give a street address.
That same year, Homeward Trust officials expressed concern about the low reported number of homeless; they thought the numbers were much higher. People in a wide range of occupations in my city, including restaurant servers, retail clerks, hairstylists and barbers, cannot afford even a one-bedroom apartment on their single incomes. Regrettably, a lot of apartments are being converted to condos and very few of the private developers are interested in building rental properties. They want to build the condominiums because they are easier to sell.
A diverse mix of Edmontonians experience homelessness, including young men, families, teenagers and seniors. In 2014, children and youth under 24 accounted for 29% of the homeless. At one point, working families were actually camping in our city parks. Matters have improved since then, because we have a dedicated mayor and council, but that is how critical it was, even in a province known to be one of the wealthier ones.
In 2009, the City of Edmonton, to its credit, launched a 10-year plan to end homelessness, and it outlined a number of initiatives to lower homeless numbers, including providing housing options and reducing shelter use, yet as reported in 2016, the demand for affordable housing has more than tripled since 2014. The waitlist for the group that provides social and affordable housing now sits at 4,300, compared with just 1,200 in the fall of 2014. In March 2016, the Alberta government, to its credit, changed the rules for those applying for affordable housing. Albertans now no longer need to declare their disability or education savings plans as part of asset testing. It is much easier now for them to claim some kind of a subsidy for affordable housing.
It is important to also hear from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Its members have said:
Housing is more than just a roof over your head. Safe, affordable housing makes our cities and communities welcoming places to live, work and start a business. It's also important to retaining workers and attracting newcomers to enrich our neighbourhoods and drive economic growth.
The federation commended the government for the announced November 2017 national housing strategy, saying that it responded to the federation's recommendations. However, this past May, Canada's big-city mayors, chaired by my mayor, Mayor Don Iveson, again issued the priority call for federal financial support for municipalities. Top of their list was support for affordable housing. Despite major commitments from Ottawa and a number of key issues, Mayor Iveson advised that municipalities were still waiting for results, particularly on affordable housing. He said:
On paper we’ve made huge progress with the national housing strategy, but none of us have actually seen any dollars flow yet from that strategy into our communities.
He added that decades of underfunding had created an acute backlog of social housing. Although Iveson noted that the federal government had “stemmed the bleeding” in recent years by reversing the cuts, the mayor and others have raised the concern that the budget before this one, the 2017-18 budget, was a lost opportunity. He said:
The housing crisis, particularly in our largest cities, continues to be a sore spot.... We haven’t been adding to the social housing inventory in this country for really 20 years in any substantial way so that backlog is real.
The mayors of Canada's biggest cities say they do not need the federal government to pony up more money for affordable housing units; they just need the cash to move faster.
As others have noted in the House, we look at the chart in the budget, and yes, there is some money in this budget but the vast majority, 90% of it, will not flow until the next election. Not just the big city mayors but the mayors of smaller communities and rural areas and indigenous leaders are saying that a good part of that money ought to be released now. We are calling for at least 50% of that money now. They have expressed concern that the Liberals' housing plan outlines billions in federal cash and matching funds from the provinces and territories, but much of the money will take years to flow.
The big city mayors caucus has pressed the finance minister to loosen the federal purse strings so that money for repairs is spent in the coming fiscal year while details are worked out in cash for new construction.
There is a great appreciation from the co-ops. I have a lot of co-ops in my riding. I am very proud that the vast majority of co-op housing has been built and operates in my riding. We have co-op housing for the artistic community and for the disabled. There is a Ukrainian co-op. Co-ops are providing very important housing.
They really appreciated the agreement to continue that funding, but there is the concern that still there is not going to be that additional funding to continue to support low-income people in that housing.
During questions, I will be happy to share many of the incredibly innovative programs in my city alone that could move forward expeditiously if we can simply flow that federal cash more expeditiously.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-09-27 16:56 [p.21954]
Mr. Speaker, on capacity, here is a simple example.
There is a partnership between the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and a construction company in the capital city region where they are giving low-income Edmontonians living in affordable housing an opportunity to train as apprentices. They are building a new affordable housing project in the Londonderry neighbourhood in northeast Edmonton. I know that a lot of indigenous communities are keen to develop the skills so that they can be building quality housing in their own communities.
I think that it is high time that the government, when it sets the parameters for the next contracts to build housing, particularly for affordable housing and particularly in northern and indigenous communities, set parameters so that the housing is sustainable and energy efficient, because one of the highest costs for those communities is the energy bill, and they are suffering with diesel oil contamination. As I recall, that matter has been in the budget for a long time, and we have not yet seen those dollars delivered.
Those are the kinds of initiatives I would like to see in building capacity.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-09-27 16:59 [p.21954]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear that at least the member is interested in the federal government encouraging more energy efficiency, but why the heck has it not restored the eco-energy retrofit program? I know every home in my riding would welcome the infusion of dollars so they too could reduce their energy bill and make their homes energy efficient.
I used to sit on the environment committee, and we heard that the updated energy efficiency provisions in the national building code are not going to be in place until 2030. I am troubled by that. Could we please speed that up so that any new housing being built actually meets higher standards and we can save dollars for Canadians.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-06-14 17:09 [p.20969]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise to speak to this motion. I am going to say many things that my colleagues from Alberta should hear because it is very important for them to be reminded where this idea of a carbon tax or carbon levy came from.
I am a proud Albertan for many reasons and counted among them is the fact that my province was the first Canadian jurisdiction, in fact the first jurisdiction in North America, to impose a levy on carbon emissions. Our colleagues in the Conservative Party, minus the Progressive Conservative aspect of it, seem to want to forget about that. In fact, my guess would be that not a single one of them mentioned that fact during the debate in this place on the carbon tax. In 2007, Premier Stelmach's Progressive Conservative Government of Alberta became the first in Canada, a North America jurisdiction, to legislate greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The specified gas emitters regulation imposed a carbon levy on large industrial emitters.
This came about because of the remarkable institution in Alberta called the Clean Air Strategic Alliance. It is a mechanism that I have long recommended should be duplicated at the federal level. It is a tripartite organization shared jointly by someone senior in industry, maybe a TransAlta, Suncor, or Syncrude vice-president, and by a deputy of energy or environment, and a senior environmentalist. It also includes indigenous peoples and farmers. On behalf of the Alberta government it takes on what should be done to reduce air emissions in our province. The alliance took on the coal-fired power industry and significantly reduced those emissions. It also took on the major emitters of greenhouse gases and as a result, the government very wisely issued these regulations.
Those regulations have since been replaced and I will talk about that in a minute, but under those regulations, an industry could choose to either reduce its emissions substantially or contribute to a research fund. That research fund was headed up by the former head of Syncrude Canada. It is considered a great model for investment in cleaner technology. A lot of the money went to try to clean up the fossil fuel industry, which some people might question, but it indeed does also need to clean up. A lot of that money also went into things like geothermal energy, renewable energy, using alternative energy in the fossil fuel industry, and reducing the energy used by the fossil fuel industry. It was remarkable.
We really need to honour Alberta for that because Alberta did that first. I find it really stunning in this place that every Conservative keeps standing up and ranting about the very measure that my Government of Alberta put in place.
A decade later, along came the government of Rachel Notley who put in place a very impressive climate action portfolio. She announced a new regime that includes the carbon competitiveness incentive regulations. Those have been in place since January of this year. They apply to facilities like the oil sands, cement plants, fertilizer producers that produce more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2003 or thereafter. The Notley government also imposed a cap on oil sands carbon emissions and it was great news for me because I volunteered for seven years to finally deal with the emissions from the coal-fired power sector.
Again, I am very proud of Alberta because it has moved forward. The federal government is still talking about it and the federal government acts as if it has done it, but in fact, it has done nothing to change the Harper era coal-fired power regulations.
All the Harper government did was to say that by 2050 the coal-fired power industry either has to shut down or deal with carbon emissions. That was the big push for carbon capture sequestration. Guess what? It is really expensive and with the big push for that, in the end, the industry did not want to pay for it and the public is not happy about subsidizing it. At the big international conferences there are people trying to sell this, but it just did not work in Alberta.
The reason this industry was not shut down earlier in Alberta was that the government refused to look at the health impacts of that sector. I tried really hard to get the federal and provincial governments to speak to it. I eventually had to intervene on my own with a lifelong friend who is a family doctor and who had documented in the Lake Wabamun area, where most of the coal-fired power industry is, the higher rates of multiple sclerosis and other diseases related to neurological disease. As a result of his and my intervening, and our having brought in an American expert from the eastern coast, the government finally put in place the only mercury control regulations in this country for coal-fired power.
Bit by bit, the Government of Alberta was doing good work. Along came the Rachel Notley government and Dr. Joe Vipond, who is a Calgary physician. He started gathering information from the Canadian Medical Association to determine an absolutely huge number of serious illnesses and deaths related to coal-fired power in my province. As a result of that data and as a result of costing those injuries, health impacts, and deaths, a lot of the issues having to do with asthma, lung disease, and heart disease, the government decided that it would move forward the date for the shutdown of coal power in Alberta. Therefore, by 2030 the coal power industry will be gone in Alberta.
Those are great measures by the Government of Alberta, which were initially started by Premier Stelmach, a Progressive Conservative. These regulations replace the specified gas emitters regulation.
I want to share with members the voice of one of my neighbours, who is a remarkable man. He travels around the world and advises China and Bhutan; he goes everywhere. He is an environmental economist. Mark Anielski has reminded us that the health care costs associated with climate change are “in the order of $300 million per year, along with other impacts of pollution”, and it is what he dubs an “unfunded liability”. He estimates this overall liability is worth “about $13.7 billion if you value carbon at $50 a ton which is what Shell and other companies shadow price carbon at”. He added, “This is in the spirit of taxing the bads and not the goods” and “everyone requires a share of responsibility...paying for that liability. But the tax really is an incentive to change our behaviour to be more efficient.”
I heard my colleague from Calgary rant about what the gas tax will do to address and stop the floods and terrible fires that have blighted British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. That is not the point. The point is we need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels so that we do not have more catastrophic floods and fires. We have been fortunate in Canada because we are not seeing the brunt of it that the rest of the world is already seeing. We need to understand that putting in place a carbon tax is meant as a preventive measure, not an after-the-fact enforcement measure. It is meant to trigger a different behaviour.
The Alberta regime is forecasting $5.8 billion over a three-year period from the carbon levy on large industrial emitters. We need to also recognize that the regimes put in place in each province are going to be different. My province is blessed with, although some people say it is cursed with, major emitters. We have the major oil and gas sector. What that means is if we impose a tax, we are going to generate a lot of revenue. We also have been blessed with having a good number of people earning a good income that is higher than in a lot of places in the country. Therefore, we are going to garner a higher tax revenue. However, most of that tax will be from the purchase and burning of fossil fuels in our homes, in small businesses, and our vehicles.
What will happen with that revenue? Unlike what British Columbia originally did, where it simply returned that tax money, I am glad that Alberta has taken a different direction. My understanding is that under the new B.C. government, it has also shifted over what it is doing with that revenue.
Two-thirds of that revenue is going to be reinvested in the Alberta economy: $1.3 billion in green infrastructure and $300 million in phasing out coal power. The government, in its wisdom, decided to buy out some of the coal industry because, foolishly, previous governments had allowed the coal power industry to expand at a moment in time when we should have known it was going to be phasing out. It has agreed to pay out some of those operations and the power purchase agreements. There will be $600 million going to energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and $1 billion will be going to support the coal communities that have housed the workers who have worked in the coal mines and the coal-fired power plants. That is a good initiative. It will also go into renewable energy investments, and innovation and technology.
I would add here that the Rachel Notley government has also put $50 million toward the retraining of workers in the coal-fired power and mining industries, and persuaded the federal government finally to extend EI. Where is the money from the federal government to match that? We hear a lot of talk, and there is yet another advisory committee.
We hear pleas from members of the Conservative Party about what the carbon tax is going to do for them. What Canadians are looking for is what is being done to help communities and workers who feel they are suffering directly because of the shift to a clean energy economy.
One-third is going to helping households, businesses, and communities directly. Some $500 million is going to small business tax cuts. Some $1.5 billion is going to low- and middle-income households. There is $1.5 billion in assistance for indigenous communities. It would be nice if the federal government would match that. The effect will be that the average natural gas bill is to rise by approximately $5 a month, and that is before the 2018 rebates. The majority of the gas bill costs remain in delivery, administration, and fixed costs because of the Ralph Klein deregulated system, which the Notley government is also trying to deal with. Two-thirds of Albertans are to receive a rebate.
The projected costs are actually posted on the Alberta website. Any members in this place who are concerned about their constituents can go to the Alberta government website and find out what the carbon tax will be.
As long as Alberta's carbon tax remains in place, we in Alberta will not be subject to the federal tax regime. The government has been very clear on that. Of course, all provinces and territories have the option to implement their own choice of cost regime: cap and trade, carbon tax, or anything else that they can invent.
However, a tax alone will not cut it. Broader federal action is needed if we are to deliver on our Paris commitments. Who said that? Many, including the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, who continues to raise concerns that we are failing to deliver on our commitments in meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets. Deeper actions are needed, including on climate adaptation. That was in a very recent report by the commissioner. Of course, the government thanked the commissioner for the report, but where is the action?
I have great admiration for the Pembina Institute. The institute and others have said that the political will still appears to be high in the Liberal government. At least they voice support for it, but so is the greenhouse gas inventory high, and it is rising. The government cannot keep adjusting the timelines forward. Now it is saying it cannot possibly meet the 2020 target, so let us try for the 2030 target. The commissioner has spoken out loudly against that. She said that the government has to stop just moving the targets forward and it has to start taking action. Of course, we are already not going to meet the 2020 Copenhagen accord target. Apparently, we are also slated to fail to deliver on our Paris commitments for 2030. That is less than 15 years away. That means we have to be taking a lot of action right now.
Close to 50% of emissions come from two sectors: oil and gas and transportation. We should also take care in the conversion from coal to gas. Burning fossil fuels will remain a health threat. There should be clear timelines for shifting to renewables. I am deeply concerned, and most Canadians are probably not aware that the standards the government is about to impose for a coal plant shifting to gas are not as strict as they are for building a new gas-fired plant. That is unforgivable. That is unforgivable for regions like mine in the Lake Wabamun-Genesee area that is almost the entirety of the supply of electricity in my province. Switching to gas is still going to provide a lot of pollution and we will have a lot of health impacts, and therefore a lot of costs to the public coffers.
The reductions in the building sector have also remained stagnant. We need to move forward on changes to the national building code so that new housing stock is energy efficient. All federal dollars for indigenous housing, schools, and facilities should require energy efficiency standards for sustainability and major cost savings to the communities.
We absolutely need the federal government to deliver the promised dollars to get isolated northern communities off diesel. We can look at the budgets over the last three years that the Liberals have put forward, and I have memorized page 149 and 150 of the 2017-18 budget. All I saw were zeroes for moving reliance of rural and remote communities off diesel: budget 2016-17, zero dollars; 2017-18, zero dollars; and 2018-19, nearly $40 million.
We know how many first nations communities there are, and we know what the costs will be in some of those isolated communities, particularly in the high north. Come on, get with it. Let us move that spending forward.
Supposedly the nation-to-nation relationship is the most important, and we recognize that those communities are struggling. We hear story after story of first nations that are fed up with waiting for government to help them, and they are moving forward themselves with groups like Iron & Earth.
For example, Iron & Earth is partnering with first nations in a community in the Maskwacis in Alberta teaching the local indigenous people how to install solar, and then installing solar. Why are we not doing that right across our country? I do not understand what the delay is.
We talked about skills development in the New Democrats opposition day. In the pan-Canadian program, supposedly for all the jurisdictions to work together to address climate change, what is missing? It is investment in skills development. Even when we put those questions to the government the other day, the answer back is always exactly the same: “Well, we're supporting clean technology”. However, who is going to work for the clean technology firms?
There should be massive amounts of money flowing right now into every technical school in Canada. I sat down the other day in my constituency and started listing all the technical schools across this country that deliver renewable energy training. It is unbelievable. It is almost every community college. Certainly the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in my city has a fantastic program, but it is oversubscribed. Young people are dying to learn these skills. Who is dying to learn it the most? It is our boilermakers, steelworkers, and electricians. They are begging to get into this field. They are saying that they may still work in the fossil fuel industry, but they want to transition over. There is no reason why, when there is a downturn in the oil and gas sector, they could not slide over and work in the renewable sector.
Kudos to Iron & Earth, which started as a small group of men and women who worked in the oil sands. It has now spread right across the country. There is testimony after testimony. I encourage members to go to the Iron & Earth website and look at the testimonials from men and women working in those sectors, and how badly they want to get into this sector.
We heard all the promises from the Conservatives when they were in power. They were in power for 10 years, and they never issued those promised oil and gas regulations. So much for their actions on climate change. They never joined IRENA. Finally, three years later, kudos to the Liberals for finally discovering this international agency for renewable energy and joining it. However, I do not know what they can bring to it. I think they need to start investing and showing that we are actually taking action.
I will close with my former colleague, Paul Dewar, who is kick-starting an initiative next week for youth. I have been working closely with a fabulous group called the 3% Project. Two young people have travelled right across the country visiting just about every high school and every university, including in this city. Their objective of 3% is to reach one million young people in Canada. They want them to learn about the need for action on climate change and sustainability, and to take on a project. It is absolutely inspiring. I encourage everyone to look into 3% Project. That is our future, and I know that they believe we should take action and will not listen to the naysaying from this motion, which we will clearly vote against.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-11-06 12:47 [p.14984]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his attention to SMEs.
If the government of the day paid attention, it would see that world investment is shifting toward renewable energy, not fossil fuels. Yet the current government has been chastised by both the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Auditor General for not only refusing to provide the schedule for how it is going to meet its commitment to remove perverse subsidies for the fossil fuel sector, but also for the pathetically tiny shift in fossil fuel write-offs in its budget, which we are debating here today. My understanding is that it simply would move from 100% write-off to a 30% write-off, and that this will continue up to even 2021.
Could the member tell us, given his interest in SMEs, his government's schedule to finally remove the perverse subsidies, which amount to almost $6 billion a year, and of that amount, how much is reduced in this bill?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-11-06 16:08 [p.15019]
Mr. Speaker, what is not in this budget update bill is the most troubling. In the budget the Liberals tabled, which I know by heart, on pages 149 to 150 were a lot of promises to support the conversion toward a cleaner energy Canada, but the vast majority of the dollars would not come until after the next election.
The Auditor General has been calling on the government to move forward on its commitment to deal with, reduce, and phase out the perverse subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. The grants and subsidies amount to more than $6 billion a year. Could the member speak to how disappointing that is and how little the government is doing to deliver on its commitments?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-11-06 16:48 [p.15024]
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the parliamentary secretary in his role in justice. I am deeply concerned about the lack of access to justice by Canadians. We heard a major report on CBC today about how many people are having to represent themselves in court, causing further delays in the judicial process and ending with some serious cases being dropped that should proceed.
In my province of Alberta, even though the provincial budget may be stressed for dollars, it has increased legal aid, yet in this budget, we see no increase whatsoever for legal aid so that all Canadians can have access to justice, including middle-class families.
Can the member speak to that and to why this budget update does not include additional monies for legal aid, which is a pressing need in the country?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-11-06 17:53 [p.15033]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-63. I intend to focus on commitments made by the government of the day, and the previous government, on the phasing out of inefficient or perverse subsidies for fossil fuels.
This commitment was made repeatedly since 2009 to the G20, including by the Liberal government in 2016. Canada, Mexico, and the United States committed to remove these perverse incentives by 2025. The government has voiced a commitment to phase them out in the medium term. The question then arises, as we move at a snail's pace, what exactly is the medium term?
The government also committed to take action to reduce greenhouse gases. They made that commitment in Paris, and we are now hearing from world leaders that this appears to be a sliding commitment on behalf of the Government of Canada, leading into the climate meeting in Bonn.
I would like to start off reminding those in this place of what the Prime Minister's mandate letter said about the phase-out of these perverse subsidies. The mandate letter for the finance minister is very clear.
First, his mandate was to work with the President of the Treasury Board and his colleagues in the cabinet to review tax expenditures and other spending to “reduce poorly targeted and inefficient measures, wasteful spending”, and ineffective initiatives.
Second, his mandate was to work with the Minister of Natural Resources to “enhance existing tax measures to generate more clean technology investments and work with the provinces and territories to make Canada’s tax system highly competitive for investments in the research, development, and manufacturing of clean technology.”
Third, the Minister of Finance was mandated to work with the Minister of Environment to fulfill the government's “G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term.”
It does not end there. The mandate letter for the finance minister also says that if the government is to tackle climate change, the work must be “informed by performance measurement” and “evidence”. Then the mandate letter says that the government has committed to a “higher bar for openness and transparency”, and that the Prime Minister expects the minister to deliver on these commitments during this mandate in the first four years. However, two of those years are gone and we are now sliding into the third year.
What has a leading international entity said about Canada's sliding commitment to addressing greenhouse gases, including our commitment to remove the perverse incentives?
Jose Angel Gurría, the Secretary-General of the OECD, has expressed great pain at the sliding commitment. He says it is “a bit of a paradox” that Canada seems to be espousing the political will to reduce greenhouse gases, but does not seem to be going down that road. However, in the United States where the political will is gone, they have moved far ahead of Canada in taking action. He also stated that, “While at the same time, the local situation is showing that speed of reduction is not as fast as one would have wanted”, that emissions in Canada should have fallen 17% from 2005 levels, and instead the drop has been more like 2%. He also stated that Canada is “on a path where, by 2030, you may not be able to get to the target.”
It is very concerning. Therefore, it is not only Canadians expressing concern about the lack of commitment of the government to deliver on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. There will be growing concern about the failure to deliver the commitments to the G20 and their commitments in Paris.
This is reiterated by Canada's Auditor General in a letter sent by him on June 2 to the chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. It states:
This audit focused on whether the Department of Finance Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, in a manner consistent with their respective roles and responsibilities, supported Canada’s 2009 G20 commitment to phase out and rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest.
It continues:
Overall, we found that [these departments] did not define what the 2009 G20 commitment to phase out and rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies means in the context of Canada’s national circumstances.
The Auditor General then continues, and states:
We found that since 2009, six subsidies to the fossil fuel sector were reformed by legislation. Other tax measures for this sector were not reformed. We also found that the Department of Finance Canada did not consider all tax measures to determine whether they were inefficient fossil fuel subsidies under the commitment. The Department also did not develop an implementation plan with timelines to support the phase-out and rationalization by 2025 of remaining tax measures that are inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
The Auditor General closes with this, which states:
...without a clear understanding of the fossil fuel subsidies covered by the G20 commitment and without an implementation plan with timelines, the departments cannot ensure that they are providing the support needed for Canada to meet the commitment by 2025.
Clearly serious concerns are being raised, in all quarters, about the failure of the current government to deliver on its commitments both to reduce greenhouse gases and to take more expedited action to remove the perverse subsidies. In this budget, the government appears to be partially addressing Canadian development and Canadian exploration expense deductions. With respect to the removal of these subsidies, it may be noted that the Canadian exploration expense deduction used to be 100%, but is now being slid into the Canadian development expense deduction, which is 30%. It is hard to tell from what is in the budget document how much further the government is going, but clearly it is not rapid enough to meet the demands of the Auditor General.
It is important to consider that these corporations can continue to defer the deductions. Therefore, while the budget document appears to suggest that by a certain date, which I think is 2021, they can no longer claim them, the corporations can hold those off and claim them at an end date. Therefore, we may have hundreds of millions of dollars being claimed in the near future, at a time when we need to be spending that money on supporting renewable energy.
Why is this of deep concern? I have gone through the reports where people have been adding up the subsidies and grants for the fossil fuel industry. It adds up to an astounding $5.8 billion a year, so the government has a long way to go, given the meagre measures it has in this budget document.
Therefore, the obvious question for the government is this. When will it step up to the plate, move this forward, and respond to the call by the Auditor General to provide a plan of action and a timeline? Further, is it going to begin to become transparent, instead of holding discussions on these perverse subsidies behind closed doors?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-11-06 18:03 [p.15034]
Mr. Speaker, indeed I am hearing the same kinds of concerns that all members in this place are hearing, particularly given that I am from Alberta. We know there is a downturn in the oil industry and a depleted price for oil and gas. Today I read another report on how many oil field workers are trying to get into training so they can get into the renewable sector. However, we do not see a cent from the current government towards a just transition. I am proud that the Government of Alberta is working on a strategy with unions and workers in Alberta and trying to move this forward, but where is the strategy? People across Canada need work. There are a lot of people being laid off. People want to work. They do not want to go on welfare. They want to look after their family. They would probably prefer to go back to the communities that they came from. The renewable sector can clearly provide a lot of jobs, as it has around the world. Therefore, I am deeply disappointed that there are lot of things that are not in this budget that would help Canadians obtain employment in the new energy economy.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-11-06 18:06 [p.15034]
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I want to compare the two. I was pretty clear in my speech that it is not what I am calling for, it is what the Auditor General, OECD, and what all those countries that will be gathering in Bonn are calling for. Canada made big promises but is failing on delivery.
Frankly, I did not just speak to Alberta. I hear it day after day in my riding, and I know there are a lot of people from across this country, the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and B.C., who have come to work in the oil industry in Alberta. Everyone knows there is a downturn. A lot of those young folk call me and ask what they can do to get into the renewables sector, because they know there is a lot of potential for jobs. There is a waiting list for the renewable energy program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
For heaven's sake, when is the Liberal government going to step up and give some of the money over to help with this just transition?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-06-05 12:26 [p.11982]
Mr. Speaker, I have to say at the outset that there are many in this place who are puzzled by the decision of the government to table exactly the same motion it tabled last October and that this House voted for. We have heard the Minister of Finance speaking to the need to move toward a greener, cleaner economy and the various initiatives the government is proceeding with.
What is troubling, and I look forward to the Minister of Finance responding, is that he speaks about hand in hand. Everyone who is in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency sector knows what is needed. The most important thing in moving forward is removing the perverse incentives for the fossil fuel industry. The Auditor General has already chastised the government for failing to move on its commitment—in fact, the last two governments' commitments—to remove the perverse incentives.
The Minister of Finance also spoke to the pan-Canadian agreement. Indeed, many of our provinces, territories, municipalities, and even homeowners have expeditiously moved forward to invest. However, when we look at the government's budget this year, and we look at all the pan-Canadian initiatives for creating Canada's clean growth economy, it has committed close to zero dollars in support of those initiatives.
Perhaps the minister would like to speak to how deep this commitment is to moving forward expeditiously toward a cleaner economy.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-06-05 13:25 [p.11989]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Drummond.
As I said previously in my question for the Minister of Finance, completely baffling is the decision of the government to retable essentially the same motion that was tabled here last fall, which was passed with the support of our party. What is disappointing is the Liberals have come forward with the exact same motion, sadly, missing the amendments we had recommended, which was that they revise their targets to enable them to deliver on their promise in Paris, to at least hold the climate change to a maximum of 2o, let alone their further promise of 1.5o.
I think there is an understanding now, particularly since the United States has said it will pull out the agreement. As one of the members pointed out, it will take four years for that to happen and many people in the world may hope we have a different administration in the United States by then, an administration that previously committed to delivering on the Paris agreement. It is very disappointing.
We look forward to the speeches by the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources. Daily we hear their mantra in here, which is to balance environmental protection with economic development, and that this is the path they will take to address climate change. We are looking forward to hearing the details of how they might be doing that.
Why would we be particularly interested in that? While the government has said that it is determined in every decision it makes on our energy future to balance environmental protection with economic development, it has been very good on one side of that balance by moving expeditiously to approve LNG plants, pipelines, and basically back away from a more intensive review of oil sands operations.
We recently received the report from UNESCO where it investigated the impacts of the oil sands and the Site C dam on a world heritage site in northern Alberta. UNESCO has directed that our nation will lose that world heritage site designation unless the government steps up to the plate and starts doing its job and better regulating the impact of the oil sands on the whole Peace-Athabasca Delta. It has called for a second review assessment of the Site C dam because the federal government, before giving the okay for Site C, did not consider the potential transboundary impacts into Alberta on the world heritage site. Why is that significant? Even during the review of Site C, intervenors came forward and said that building dams on this scale were massively expensive. Also, there did not appear to be the demand for that scale of a project, a demand that was realistically forecast to probably be delivered through geothermal, solar and wind. That was dispensed with.
The government is saying the right things, but we are deeply concerned that it is not necessarily moving in that direction.
Also, the government is still sticking with Stephen Harper's targets. It is a complete mystery not just to those of us in our party, but to all of those who are deeply dedicated to a transition to cleaner energy. The non-governmental organizations, the institutes, the scientists, and the people in the solar, wind, and geothermal sector are troubled. If we are to deliver on those commitments in Paris, then we have to come to the reality that we have to dig even much deeper to reduce.
That means the government has to move on another promise as well, which is to more rapidly get rid of the perverse incentives for the fossil fuel sector. We are not just saying that. The Auditor General has chastised the government for not moving more expeditiously. Now, of course, the previous Conservative government also committed to other nations that it would move expeditiously to remove those perverse incentives. It did not. This government has admitted today, through the finance minister, that it has taken one small measure. The Auditor General is saying it is not good enough.
We like the fact that the government is espousing the policy that it wants to move toward a cleaner energy economy. The Liberals agree with us that we are facing a serious challenge in the planet. We share their concern with the United States saying that it is going to pull out. However, I should not say the United States, but the President of the United States has said that. We are delighted to hear, as I am sure many in the country are, that many of the U.S. states, I think more than 80 mayors of U.S. towns, and many in major industries, including the fossil fuel industry, have said that they will continue down the path of divesting from fossil fuels and moving toward a cleaner economy. However, that means we have to step up our pace.
The government has announced again that it will have a big shindig with China and Europe here in the fall. However, what additional can Canada do to fill that gap? The United States of America, as I understand, contributes 25% of the greenhouse gases on this planet. The Canadian government has only committed to reduce part of the emissions that we emit, not even the emissions that are necessary to meet the Paris target. Therefore, one would think that the finance minister and other ministers of the government would have come forward today and told us what additional, deeper, faster initiatives the Liberals have committed to meet the promise they have made to the planet. It is concerning.
In April of this year, Environment Canada reported that the greenhouse gas emissions in the country were continuing to rise and that the government's 2030 target would not be met. In fact, if we progressed with using the initiatives the government had committed to, we would be almost 200 megatonnes over even that minimal target made by the Harper government. We are glad the government is saying the right things, but what we are disappointed in is where are the hard, concrete initiatives to move in that direction?
We are deeply troubled despite all this talk of the Liberals' deep commitment to assist families to reduce their energy use and to help Canadians get into the cleaner energy economy. Indeed, it is the booming economy in the world these days. I look at at pages 149 and 150 of their budget daily because people ask me questions about this. They want to know exactly what the government is doing to commit to move us forward expeditiously. People are stunned to see that in both columns of initiatives that have been listed by the Liberals, including the support for the pan-Canadian initiative of the provinces and territories, by and large, zero dollars actually have been committed.
As I mentioned previously, the sooner we invest the better, because it will simply become more expensive. Either the carbon tax will have to rise more expeditiously or we will have to invest more money in parallel measures. Therefore, it is deeply troubling that the government says one thing, but it is not releasing the concrete measures to move forward as expeditiously as the Liberals are pretending.
Why in heavens did the government not bring back the eco-energy retrofit program? It is completely baffling. The Liberals go on and on about the carbon tax as the most effective measure to move forward and address the rise in greenhouse gases in Canada. However, review after review, including by people who are very supportive of the direction the government is going, have said that the carbon tax alone will not do it, that the government needs to be expediting parallel measures.
One of those measures is the eco-energy retrofit. If Canadians in their homes and in small businesses are to have a carbon tax imposed on them, particularly in the jurisdictions where the Liberals say they will have to impose a federal tax, then one way to potentially sell that and get buy-in is to say they will help them reduce their energy use. It is baffling. Also, there is the national building code. We need to expedite that. Article after article about this says that we need to be fast-tracking a more modern national building code. How much of the building stock is going to be built again and then go through the process of having to retrofit? It would be welcomed if the government moved forward on these two measures.
We have heard the Minister of Environment recently go on and on about the government looking forward to collaborating with its European neighbours. I would encourage the government to look at the United Kingdom, which has established, by law, binding targets and an independent commission that audits and advises it on how well it is delivering on its targets every five years. This is the kind of measure that we tabled previously, and we would like to see the government adopt it to ensure transparency and accountability.
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