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Results: 1 - 15 of 192
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2019-06-18 12:36 [p.29286]
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg North, and I look forward to his comments after I have had a chance to speak.
Our government is taking climate change seriously. We know that climate change is real and that we have a plan to tackle it. After the Paris Agreement negotiations in 2015, Canada set out a plan to tackle emissions to do its part to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. We spent a year working with provinces and territories, engaging indigenous peoples and listening to Canadians from across the country. Two and a half years ago, we released our national climate plan, the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. I went through that plan last week. It is an 86-page document that says what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.
The plan is designed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. It is going to help us to adapt to a changing climate and spur clean technology and innovation. Our plan includes putting a price on carbon pollution across Canada, something we are talking about today, because we know it is effective and puts money back in the pockets of Canadians. As part of an overall plan, 90% of the revenues that are collected are going straight back to families through their tax returns in provinces where pollution pricing does not exist, such as in Ontario.
The other 10% is going back to businesses to help them reduce their carbon footprints with the climate action incentive fund, which supports these types of projects and measures that are undertaken by SMEs, municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals as well as not-for-profit organizations. The recipients of these funds will benefit from funding projects to decrease their energy usage, save money and reduce carbon pollution. It is also an economic plan for these types of organizations.
Putting a price on carbon is going to reduce emissions by 50 million to 60 million tonnes by 2022. It will also promote innovation, providing incentives to reduce energy use through conservation and efficiency measures.
However, our plan is much more than pricing carbon pollution. Our plan includes over 50 concrete measures in policies, regulations, standards and investments to reduce Canada's emissions, drive clean growth and help Canadians adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The Government of Canada has also invested $28.7 billion to support improvements in public transit. Through this investment, we are making it easier for Canadians to choose lower-emission transit options. The Ontario government has put a freeze on some of these projects, but we are hopeful to see further investments in Guelph, including alternate-fuelled buses through the municipality, greening its fleet, and the incentives in place by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to create charging stations. We invested in 26 new buses a few years ago. Those buses were purchased in a way that is going to help our community to have more people on the bus.
Outside our community, we are looking at the ongoing concern of establishing an all-day, two-way GO train service to and from the GTA. We have a lot of commuters who are getting through traffic on the 401 to get to work and then facing delays getting home to their families. However, the multi-billion-dollar project to expand Ontario's GO Transit network has taken two major steps forward, on May 30 of this year, with the Canada Infrastructure Bank's announcing an investment of up to $2 billion and the province's short-listing four consortia to advance to the next stage of procurement on this project. That project is attracting international investment; it is not all being funded by Canadians through the infrastructure bank, which is one of the measures that our government has brought forward.
The rail expansion that we are talking about is officially known as the GO regional express rail on-corridor project. It involves significant construction work along the greater Toronto and Hamilton area rail corridor, as well as a new train maintenance facility and upgrades at Toronto's Union Station. The wide-reaching project also incorporates rail electrification, refurbishment and maintenance on trains, and oversight of train control and dispatch operations, among many other aspects, and introducing data as a way to help us move trains from point A to point B.
The overall approach that we are taking is strategic. It is something along the lines of what Guelph has developed, a community energy initiative. Now we are looking at the same types of principles nationally to see where the main contributors to climate change are. Industry is the largest, including oil and gas, but it is all industry, amounting to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada or 269 megatonnes.
We are looking at small business retrofits across the board. In Guelph, we have Canadian Solar that is doing great work on providing solar panels across Canada. Linamar in Guelph is developing the car of the future.
We are looking at new processes within our manufacturing industry. One of the members across the way mentioned VeriForm, which is just in Cambridge, southwest of Guelph, that is looking at how to reduce the climate change impact on businesses.
We have introduced an accelerated capital cost allowance to write down costs in the first year. Instead of paying taxes, people will pay for greening their businesses to reduce the cost of operations.
We have also looked at transportation. Twenty-three percent of greenhouse gases, 171 megatonnes, are emitted through transportation. We are looking at how we can reduce those through EV incentives that we have now introduced. We are also promoting EV within our communities through a not-for-profit organization called eMERGE that has held a couple of car shows to show the community how we can transition to electric vehicles. In fact, we have had many owners displaying their cars and saying what their challenges have been and how they are overcoming challenges to show that it really is not that hard to get into an EV.
We are looking at active transportation, increasing bike lanes, and as I mentioned, increasing the number of buses in our fleet, getting new buses in our fleet, providing fare boxes at bus stops and four special transit vehicles, all of which are funded through the federal government's support.
We are looking at our built environment, the buildings and the 12% of greenhouse gas emissions, or 87 megatonnes, that are emitted through building heating and cooling. FCM now has a green fund that we have doubled so that we can put climate action incentives in place to help people save money on the operation of their building and, at the same time, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
As well, 11% is coming from electricity. How do we provide a better way of getting electricity other than using fossil fuels? We are looking at research into cold-water aquifer development so that we can get geothermal working on our side to provide heating and cooling in urban buildings.
Forestry, agriculture and waste draw a lot of attention with 17% of greenhouse gas emissions, or 127 megatonnes. I am proud to say that Guelph and Wellington County were the recipients of a $10-million fund through the smart cities challenge to reduce food waste and promote clean technology companies that are focused on providing sustainable food and reducing food waste. We are looking at that developing and going into the future.
Beyond all of these, looking at the different areas of greenhouse gas emission opportunities, we are also looking at adaptation and climate resilience. We are looking at the floods and forest fires that are happening and how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions through adaptation programs.
I was a member of the Rotary Club in Guelph. It just completed a 10-year program of planting 60,000 trees in our area. It is looking at how to sequester carbon and promote more oxygen into the atmosphere. Even though the Ontario government is cutting tree-planting programs, Guelph is looking at ways to increase its tree canopy to a 40% target within the municipality.
Flood resilience is another area. We all experience floods. Even though Guelph is not on a major river like the Ottawa River, we still get floods. The federal government has provided support for sewer upgrades and snow storage areas and flood resilience programs, all helped by federal funding.
Clean technology, innovation and jobs is where we are all heading. It is a new economy. We are looking at the opportunities that climate change provides for us to develop the technology of the future. I co-founded an organization I am so proud of, Innovation Guelph, that is working with Bioenterprise in Guelph. It received $5.6 million and is helping 135 new start-up companies to develop solutions around clean technologies.
Looking at this nationally, Sustainable Development Technology Canada is providing funding support for companies across Canada to develop these types of solutions. It has also launched joint funding opportunities in collaboration with Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates, which I also visited during my term here. It has partnered with the Ontario Centres of Excellence to enhance Ontario's greenhouse gas innovation initiative. SDTC estimates that its projects have reduced annual emissions by 6.3 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent, generated $1.4 billion in annual revenue and supported growth of more than 9,200 direct and indirect jobs since 2015.
We have also funded the upgrade of the community energy initiative in Guelph with $175,000, which is going into projects in Guelph to try to help us move forward into the future.
However, our work is not done. The transition to a low-carbon economy does not occur overnight. We recognize that evidence-informed policy requires ongoing support, so we established a new independent climate change and clean growth institute to provide trusted information and advice for years to come. We are going to review these findings to help us contribute to take strong action on climate change, which includes the price on carbon but does not exclude all these other things we are doing.
I am thankful for the time I had to talk about climate change as it relates to Guelph.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 32nd report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, entitled “Establishing a Canadian Transportation and Logistics Strategy: Part 2”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
I want to thank the members of the transport committee for working with the people in eastern Canada, particularly in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and discussing and dealing with issues in regard to trade corridors and transportation infrastructure. I want to thank the witnesses who appeared and gave good advice and recommendations to our committee to inform us in preparation of this report.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-05 17:53 [p.28605]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Motion No. 226. which seeks to give instructions to the Standing Committee on Health regarding health care delivery in rural Canada.
There is an extremely concerning shortage of family doctors and nurses in Canada, particularly in rural areas. The lack of broadband Internet also prevents rural communities from accessing online health services. The committee should also consider the worrisome deterioration of rural hospitals in its study.
I want to thank the member for Kenora for bringing the motion before the House. My daughter was a nurse in his lovely riding, so she is well acquainted with its hospital and the health care services that are available there.
As the member for Sarnia—Lambton, I note that Sarnia is a mixture of urban and rural, so there are also quite a number of parts of my riding where services and transportation are not available.
I would like to start by talking about the current situation in health care in general in Canada.
We know there is already a shortage of doctors and nurses across the country. I have travelled from coast to coast to coast and spoken with people in various ridings. I would like to give members a few examples of the shortage, starting with what I think is one of the worst cases I have heard, which is Cape Breton.
Cape Breton was missing 52 emergency room physicians and a vascular surgeon. People who cut an artery in Cape Breton would lose a limb or die because they would not be able to get to Halifax in time to get the services.
Let us look across the country. Given the wait times in Ottawa, it takes six years to get a family doctor. The former member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith ran provincially, and one of the priority issues she brought up was the shortage of doctors in B.C. Truly, there is a shortage of health care workers.
This is particularly disturbing, as we have an aging population. Right now, one in six people is a senior, and that will be one in four in the next six to 10 years. With that comes a need for a number of different services.
First of all, we are seeing a movement toward more chronic disease, in part due to rising obesity rates, smoking issues and so on. Also, as people are living longer, we are seeing an increase in dementia, and there is a need for palliative care. Of course, I have been a strong advocate for palliative care during my time in the House. About 70% of Canadians do not have any access to palliative care, and this is especially true in rural and remote places. It is a pressing problem.
As I look to the government that has been in power for four years, I see absolutely no plan to address the gaps that exist regarding the resources for health care workers and all the infrastructure needed in places like Petrolia, which is one of the hamlets within my riding. Right now, the electrical and mechanical systems in place at the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital are so obsolete and so likely to fail that Petrolia is planning how it will shut down the hospital when the systems fail. All of the patients will have to be moved to the nearby high school. Petrolia needs $5 million to repair that infrastructure.
I could tell members similar stories, from across the nation, of hospitals that have not received any funding for infrastructure. Clearly the provinces do not have money for that. One solution the government could bring forward in that light is a program that would specify rural hospitals and their infrastructure needs, which would address some of the outstanding issues there.
Another need in many rural and remote places is broadband Internet. As we move increasingly to using virtual services, such as virtual palliative care and virtual consultations, communities need broadband Internet to receive them. There is a huge need for this in the north. My riding has several places without good access to the Internet. I think it will be incredibly important to address this need.
One of the other problems with the rural and remote health care system is just accessing the services. Transportation can be very costly and, as the member for Kenora has mentioned, it can take a really long time. In Kenora, people transit by airplane. In my riding, even though there are many services, a lot of people have to go to nearby London, which is an hour away. For low-income people and those who do not have transportation, there is no service to take them for weekly cancer treatments or other procedures. Transportation is a big barrier, and we need to find solutions to address that.
There have been some really innovative solutions that I discovered when I was working on the palliative care private member's bill. One of them was the use of paramedics to deliver palliative care. Trained paramedics, during the hours they are not taking care of emergencies, would distribute pain medications and perform procedures that patients need. This is really cost-efficient, because they are already on the payroll, and it is a great service for people who have trouble accessing services and cannot get the transportation they need. It is those kinds of innovations that will be really important as we move forward.
Another issue in my riding—and I heard it is also an issue in Kenora—has to do with how to attract doctors, nurses and health care workers to go to rural places. There has to be some kind of incentive. One of the great innovations, also in Petrolia, was a clinic that was put together with multiple family physicians and nurse practitioners providing various services. Because the doctors did not have to be sole family physicians working umpteen hours in practice and then being on call for emergencies, the balance of life and work was much better. There was a real effort made to attract doctors to that practice. They are doing a fine job and making services very accessible to people who live nearby. In fact, because of the quality, in some cases people are even coming from Sarnia to Petrolia to access services.
We need to come up with solutions on how to provide health care and work with the provinces and territories. Every region is different. We talked about some of the barriers, such as travel during bad weather, for accessing services, but in some places, the problems are different. Some places have an aging population. In my riding, 50% of people are over the age of 57, so care for seniors is a key issue, and I know that is true as well in Nova Scotia and a number of places across the country.
At the end of the day, I would be happy to have the health committee study this issue. I wish we had time in this parliamentary session, but, as has already been pointed out, it is unlikely that a study could be taken up at this point in time. Perhaps it will happen in a future Parliament.
This is an urgent need and something we need to consider. We need to put together a plan that will identify the health care workers required and how to get them. In some cases, there are enough workers in Canada; in some cases, we will have to change how we train doctors, for example. There was a very innovative example in New Brunswick, where, although there is no teaching hospital or university for residencies, the province partnered with Dalhousie University and Sherbrooke for a residency program that would provide medical services in New Brunswick and allow doctors to be certified. That kind of innovation is needed to address the health care worker issue.
In addition, there is a need for an infrastructure plan, as I have mentioned, for broadband Internet and hospital care and other services. For example, we see an increasing need for home care. Home care in rural and remote situations is increasingly difficult because of the amount of travel time and, in some cases, the weather, etc.
When we get this plan together with the resources and infrastructure and decide which services we will need as we move toward more chronic disease and an aging population with more dementia, thus requiring more palliative care, then we can start to execute that plan. It could not happen soon enough because, as I have said, one person in six being a senior now will be one in four within six to 10 years.
It is an urgent issue, and I am happy to support this motion.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-05-28 12:20 [p.28124]
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take this time in the House to speak on the rights of people living with disabilities and Canada's responsibility as a signatory to the UN convention on those rights. The NDP supports Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, as amended by the Senate.
I am proud to have been part of a larger movement of stakeholder groups and civil activists who put a great deal of effort into attempting to make this bill the best it can be. We have supported it from the beginning and offered numerous amendments that would have helped the bill realize its ambitions to create a barrier-free Canada.
New Democrats have long believed that any accessibility bill tabled by the government should essentially be enabling legislation for Canada's obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada ratified this convention in 2010 but until now has done nothing to bring our laws into conformity with it.
I congratulate the minister and her team for their work on this bill and for her willingness to accede to the Senate's amendments. There are still numerous provisions within the bill that remain in need of fixing, and I would be remiss if I did not discuss them now in order to further our understanding on what is yet to be accomplished. This being a federal election year, I know our citizen activists are listening and gaining a better understanding of how they can effectively use a campaign season.
In its current form, Bill C-81 is inadequate to the expectation of fostering a society in which all our citizens can participate fully and equally. This cannot even begin to happen until all our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. This is truly what fostering a barrier-free Canada will look like. Unfortunately, Bill C-81 makes minimal movement in that direction.
We are not alone with our concerns. During Bill C-81's time in the House Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, or HUMA, the federal government received extensive feedback on the bill's many shortcomings from people living with disabilities across Canada, as well as from their organized networks of advocacy. For example, last October an open letter was sent to the federal government, signed by no less than 95 disability organizations. Many of these same organizations also testified before HUMA. Disability organizations repeatedly pressed for this bill to be strengthened.
Our esteemed friend, David Lepofsky, is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. He is an esteemed and respected mind, with legal expertise on accessibility rights. At the Senate committee, he stated:
Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesn't require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.
Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.
The issues that Mr. Lepofsky cites in this quote remain unaddressed in the amended version of Bill C-81.
For New Democrats, this is a very serious issue. To understand why, let us look at the headlines. Last month, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. That is not unusual. However, before it spends our money on a project like that, we need the federal government to be required to say that as a ground rule for getting federal money, certain federal accessibility requirements must be met. If money is requested from the federal government, here is what is required for accessibility. It seems very simple.
The minister has claimed she does not have the constitutional authority to impose accessibility requirements on provinces, but she does. She has what is known as federal spending power, and it is a power that is very substantial. We are all familiar with the Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements: not disability accessibility, but financial accessibility. If the federal government truly lacks this power, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades. If the federal government can attach strings to the CHA, then it can attach strings when it gives out money to local projects and not just federal buildings.
I commend the hard work that many stakeholder groups did during the Senate phase of Bill C-81. Our friends at the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, or AODA Alliance, along with the ARCH Disability Law Centre, among several others, lobbied senators with a shortened list of amendments covering the most important changes that need to happen to Bill C-81 if the bill is to become the kind of law that our people living with disabilities need.
In fact, we would like to thank all the disability organizations, numbering at least 71, that signed the open letter sent earlier this month to the House of Commons. They called on the House of Commons to ratify the Senate's amendments to Bill C-81. This open letter, which the Council of Canadians with Disabilities delivered to all MPs on behalf of its 28 signatories, all listed below, explains that these amendments improve the bill. The Senate formulated these amendments after holding public hearings at which disability organizations and advocates pointed out the need to strengthen a bill that the House of Commons originally passed last fall. The Senate got the message and formulated a short package of 11 amendments, which together fit on two pages.
I would also like to commend everyone who participated in the massive letter-writing campaign to the minister, the Prime Minister and all members of Parliament. It is always exciting to see concerned public action on any issue. It was not at all clear from the minister's Senate committee testimony that she would accept some of the amendments put forward, but I believe the campaign was a crucial component to making this happen.
Going into the Senate, prior to committee, major stakeholders proposed a distilled version of the changes they wanted to see in the bill before it became law. The amendments proposed for Bill C-81 before the Senate began debating it were a distilled version of the amendments they presented during the hearings before the House of Commons committee.
I would like to run through these very quickly, as they are absolutely essential if Bill C-81 is to be effective.
First, impose clear duties and deadlines on the federal government when implementing this law.
Second, set a deadline for Canada to become accessible.
Third, enforcement should be solely in the hands of the accessibility commissioner, not splintered across various organizations, such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Transportation Agency, which, as has been pointed out numerous times, have a sorry record of implementing the few accessibility obligations they already have, never mind new ones.
Fourth, we should ensure federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.
Fifth, we should ensure that the federal government will not be able to exempt itself from any of its accessibility obligations under the bill.
The Senate eventually accepted the following amendments to Bill C-81: first, setting 2040 as the end date for Canada to become accessible; second, ensuring that this 2040 timeline would not justify any delay in removing and preventing accessibility barriers as soon as reasonably possible; third, recognizing American sign language, Quebec sign language and indigenous sign languages as the primary languages for communication used by deaf people; fourth, making it a principle to govern the bill that multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination faced by persons with disabilities must be considered; fifth, ensuring that Bill C-81 and regulations made under it could not cut back on the human rights of people with disabilities guaranteed by the Canadian Human Rights Act; sixth, ensuring that the Canadian Transportation Agency could not reduce existing human rights protections for passengers with disabilities when the agency handled complaints about barriers in transportation; and, seventh, fixing problems the federal government identified between the bill’s employment provisions and legislation governing the RCMP.
As members can garner from comparing the proposed amendments with the ones the Senate approved, several crucial amendments did not make it into the bill. One of the more important of these dealt with the issue that Bill C-81 splintered enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the single-window service they needed.
As part of this, it leaves two public agencies, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Transportation Agency, to continue overseeing accessibility, despite their inadequate track record on this issue over many years and in the very recent past. The NDP understands that this is an urgent issue which needs to be addressed urgently.
When the bill was in committee, I tabled amendments that would have closed the many exemptions and powers allowing public officials to exempt any organization from key parts of Bill C-81. The NDP feels the bill fails to effectively ensure that the federal government will use all its levers of power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the federal government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds to create or perpetuate disability barriers, such as when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure.
This is a significant point because the federal government can easily require all projects utilizing federal dollars to meet accessibility standards. Experience tells us that without this requirement, federal agencies will contract out important work to third parties to save money, thus bypassing federal accessibility specifications. Our NDP amendments would have addressed this issue directly.
For example, inaccessible public housing could potentially be built and there would be little anyone could do about it, despite the government's repeatedly stated commitment to accessibility and disability issues.
While we commend the government for accepting the timeline of 2040 as the time when Canada is to become accessible to five million people, Bill C-81 nevertheless lacks mandatory timelines for implementation. It allows, but does not require, the government to adopt accessibility standards, yet does not impose a time frame within which this is to happen. Without these, the implementation process, even the start-up process, could drag on for years.
An egregious provision the bill lacks is the requirement that all federal government laws, policies and programs be studied through a disability law lens. This seems a strange omission indeed, as this is the proverbial low-hanging fruit.
It is crucial that societies eliminate these forms of discrimination, not just because doing it is the right thing to do but because it enables a previously ignored and sizable section of our population that contributes its talents and abilities to the betterment of us all. Everyone wins when everyone can contribute.
When it comes to ensuring accessibility for five million Canadians with disabilities, Canada lags far behind the United States, which passed a landmark Americans with disabilities act 29 years ago. Canadians with disabilities still face far too many barriers in air travel, cable TV services, and when dealing with the federal government.
Now that Bill C-81 is back in the House, it only needs to hold one vote to ratify these amendments. No further public hearings or standing committee study of the bill are needed. Once the amendments are passed during that vote, Bill C-81 will have completed its journey through Canada's Parliament. It will be law. It will come into force when the federal government gives Bill C-81 royal assent.
Major stakeholders have recently written to leaders of the major parties asking that they commit to bringing a stronger national accessibility bill before Parliament after this fall's federal election. That is why, while we support the passage of Bill C-81 as amended today, the NDP also commits that when we become government in 2020, we will bring forward a much stronger version of the bill, one that will correct some of its more glaring shortcomings.
As others have noted, yes, the bill is an important first step. However, people living with disabilities have waited so long, too long, to live in a country that allows their flourishing as citizens with full human rights realized. For instance, our neighbours and family members should not be told that they must wait until 2040 until they can, say, use functioning, accessible subway elevators, or use their own wheelchairs on international flights or attend an accessible all-candidates debate and so on.
Unfortunately, the present government has left the task of making Canada fully accessible to future governments. I confidently say that New Democrats are up to this task and genuinely committed to it.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2019-05-28 21:14 [p.28190]
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to what I think is one of the most important pieces of legislation that this term of Parliament is managing. I pay my respect in particular to David Lepofsky, a lifelong friend who I first worked with when I was the chair of the accessibility and advisory committee at the City of Toronto. We tried to push forth as many progressive and enlightened ideas about how to make sure that people with disabilities, in the full range of what that means, had access to not just the city and city government, but participation in our communities in ways that we can only learn about if we sit in concert with people with disabilities to understand the various challenges that are required.
I would like to say this. If this was the only piece of legislation that our government had dealt with regarding disabilities, it would be a good piece of legislation. However, I also want to bring to the attention of the House all of the other measures we have taken across other forms of legislation and other forms of programs that I think are contributing to a change in this country and give people with disabilities the absolute place of citizenship they deserve simply by being Canadian.
For example, one of the requirements of the national housing strategy is to overshoot and make accessible housing a stronger requirement than it is in any provincial or municipal building code across this country. Of all units built as affordable housing in this country, 20% must be built to a universal design standard. A universal design standard is something that often brings to mind people who use mobility devices. However, the reality is, and we have heard it from the members opposite, that disabilities are much more complex, diverse and subtle than simply the ones that spring to mind in a stereotypical way. Therefore, a universal design is being brought to bear through the national housing strategy, which is also enshrined in a human rights approach to housing so that we make sure that we build housing for everybody when we use public dollars to create affordability. In the housing sector itself, some of the most progressive organizations in this country have pushed back against it for being too expensive. The cost of not doing it is what is too expensive. The cost of not making sure that when we use public dollars to build housing we build it for everybody is critically important to understand.
Additionally, when we look at other issues, such as the passengers' bill of rights, there is a nod to it. When we talk about the income supports that are designed to lift individuals out of poverty, we know that poverty impacts people with disabilities in ways that are far more complex and far more serious than simply addressing poverty for poverty's sake. Therefore, some of our programs have been intentionally designed to make sure that those programs are also stepped up.
I will provide an important example around public transit. Our investments in public transit are designed on a per-ridership basis and are invested into communities that provide transit right now. As well, they are designed to make sure that accessible transit is spoken to, not only in terms of providing new service, which is critical, and making sure things like elevator programs and subway stations in the city of Toronto are eligible to receive federal funding, but also that repairs to accessible buses are eligible.
We know that many communities have made the initial investment to get accessible community buses or DARTS into various parts of this country. Some of those communities were investing the first time with new dollars, but without the operating dollars for investment, they were losing that service to disrepair. One of the reasons we changed the infrastructure program to include state of good repair for public transit was specifically to address the issue of the fragility of some of those accessible buses. We need to make sure that accessible transit is available in many more communities right across the country.
We have also included active transportation in the infrastructure fund. This is important because we have built cities and communities across this country that do not accommodate mobility. Not every city in this country has a dipped curb at every intersection, which should be a standard design right across the country. There is also the retrofitting of traffic lights and intersections for people who require audible assistance to get across intersections. All of these things are part of what active transportation now funds. It is not just the big-ticket items of big subways, big pipes or big sewer plants, it is also the fine-grain infrastructure of cities that have to be built to accommodate everybody in this country. Our national infrastructure program accommodates that.
To speak specifically to the legislation here today, I want to explain, from the perspective of someone who is a parliamentary secretary and has to manage the flow from parliamentarians to minister's offices and manage the way in which amendments come forward, why it appears sometimes that an opposition amendment that is accepted eventually by the government is not accepted in its written form and has to be woven into the legislation because legislation often covers more than one bill and more than one form of federal regulation.
If the legislation is not written in a particular way, gaps are created within the system and those are the loopholes that quite often create the cracks that people fall through. For example, when we talk about the words “shall” or “must”, in drafting when I was a councillor at city hall we always looked for the words that were operative or provided permissions as opposed to instructions and tried to tighten legislation as much as possible.
With the federal drafting guidelines, because of the shared jurisdiction in many components of this bill with provincial, federal and municipal jurisdiction, and sometimes indigenous governments, we cannot force federal laws into those areas. We have to literally fit federal laws into those areas. That is why some of the language had to be fine-tuned to make sure it was consistent. We could not get to that in time for the committee. As the opposition has said, there have been 70 amendments. It is good in spirit, except in principle. We had to workshop and wordsmith them into the legislation to make sure they were operable across all the clauses, all areas of federal jurisdiction and all the intergovernmental realities this legislation governs.
On that point, when the legislation went forward to the Senate, we were still working with the spirit of those amendments knowing that senators were going to be working on them as well. We were having dialogue with senators about what amendments might be coming forward and how to fine-tune them to better fit them into the legislation, as well as looking at what legislation might come back to this House and whether it would have to be fine-tuned after having gone through the screen of the Senate.
It is a complex process of forming the language around the legislation. If it is not done properly, unintended consequences can have real impacts. On this issue, impacting people with disabilities unintentionally is doing harm to a community that has already suffered enough. Getting the law right was just as important as the timing of that legislation.
I do not really care who puts the legislation around the deadline to make sure that some of the elements of this bill must be enacted by a certain point in time. It does not really matter to me whether it is an opposition member, a Senate member, a government member or a bureaucrat who comes up with the notion. The idea is that we have to work together to evolve it into the right language and the right legislation.
We have taken the good advice of the opposition, the stakeholders and the senators and come up with an excellent bill that moves this agenda forward in a progressive and smart way, in the right way for people with disabilities.
As part of this process, the opposition has asked why it has taken so long. When one is in government, one is criticized for doing one of two things by one of two ways. One is either told that this was rushed to the House and time was not taken to consult, and one should have slowed down and consulted with stakeholders before bringing the legislation forward, or else one is criticized for consulting too much and not getting it to the House fast enough.
On this particular issue with landmark legislation, our government deliberately chose to consult widely across all of government. We chose to consult with provincial, municipal and indigenous governments. Fundamentally and most importantly, at the centre of every one of those consultations were the people with lived experience. We decided deliberately that because of the complexity of the community, the difference in geography of this country and the different reaches and federal regulations that had to be addressed through this legislation, that consultation ahead of introduction was critically important.
In fact, my conversation with David Lepofsky first started when we began to look at this legislation three years ago. It was not even a responsibility of the file I was carrying at the time. However, having come from the city, I had some experience with how legislation moves forward with government and I knew some of the experts in the field, people like Sandra Carpenter and others we had worked with previously with the city. I knew that if I could establish those relationships, bring them into the consultation, make that conversation robust, check with ministerial staff and my colleagues, monitor the work on committee and do the consultation properly, that we would get as big and strong a bill, as well as the most robust set of changes possible. That is why I thought consultation was important.
The opposition asks why we are waiting until the third year of our term to get through the House, and it is for that reason and that reason alone. It is not a sense of not having an urgency to address these issues. It is important to address them and the urgency is important, but getting it right is just as important. It is about having time to make sure that the Senate can give it a second look, that the committee has a proper process and that people with disabilities are involved. It is also about taking a look at what the committee did and the lessons that were learned. For example, making sure we had an inclusionary process, sign language, Braille and all the different forms of accommodation, including time for people with intellectual disabilities to speak without having the clock run out on them. It also includes making sure we had different ways of reaching out to these communities. This was the work of a Parliament seized with this issue and a government that seized this issue. As a result, it has the legislation here today.
The last point I want to address is this notion of why the Liberals are not all standing up and speaking one at a time. Every one of us has a story we could tell about the experience we have had in our families, our communities and our political life as we have come to a stronger understanding of some of the challenges we face or others face in our communities or in our families. There are disabilities in so many of the stories of people who sit in this legislature and it is one of the reasons why so many people are engaged in this file the way they are engaged. It comes from a very good space.
The reality is that as a government we are trying to get this to a vote. The longer I speak, the further away the vote is. We know that we are coming to the end of a term of Parliament and we know that things can happen that interrupt any single process, so we are nervous that we would not get this to a vote. We want this to come to a vote as soon as possible. We know that there are people in the galleries who have come here to watch the vote so that they can be present at the time when this historic legislation is passed.
The reason we are not standing up to repeat the points and to go on with the points endlessly and make the same point over and over again is not because we are afraid of the opposition. None of us on this side of the House is afraid of the opposition. We have dealt with the opposition members for four years and we know exactly where we stand with them. There are good voices, good questions and good points to be made and listened to and the legislation can always be made better; no one is saying that is not true. At the end of the day, we want this vote to happen and to happen in a way that shows that the whole country is behind the transformation of the approach to the rights of people who have disabilities. The whole country is behind the response that we all share to make sure that accommodation is not just reasonable but is progressively realized in a way that respects the dignity and the human rights of all the individuals involved.
I know that we will be revisiting this issue because disability and approaches to disability change over time. We need a fluid and flexible law that allows us to do that. Many of the elements that the community wanted in the legislation are going to be captured in regulation so we do not have to go through a three-year process to make changes to do the right thing, in the right way, in the right time frame. Ministers will be able to do that after the community and people have come forward and asked for those changes. The regulations can be changed without going through a robust, time-consuming and expensive parliamentary process. I am very proud of the fact that the legislation is good, but I am equally proud of the fact that the regulations are just as strong and provide that flexibility and ingenuity to make sure we can respond to the needs of these communities and the individuals as quickly and as effectively as possible, but from a perspective of the Human Rights Commission.
I said that the last point would be my last one, but I failed to address this in my general comments and I want to address it.
There are two approaches that are contemplated when looking at how one adjudicates or forces the government through complaint to respond to shortcomings in our system. One is to have the one-door approach; the other one is for everybody to have shared responsibility.
If, for example, the CRTC does not properly regulate new technologies to make sure they are accessible to and usable by all Canadians, we could have a single office that people go to in order to complain and then the office would have to manage the conversation and the process with the CRTC, or people could set it directly at the door of the CRTC and the CRTC could respond.
What we have in the design of this legislation is the best of both worlds. We have clearly an advocate that is housed at the Human Rights Commission that is part of the process of evaluating the implementation of this bill and the corrections to this bill and creates a living office to make sure this legislation is living and responds in real time to people's needs. However, they also have charged every single federal authority that touches the lives of Canadians with the responsibility that all of us have, which is to make sure the accommodations are progressive, beyond reasonable but effective to make sure people's human rights and dignity are fully respected. I do not think we are going to get a slower, more bureaucratic response. What we will get is a faster, more effective response by having the process established at every single federal institution, because every single federal institution has a responsibility to make sure all Canadians' rights and dignities are respected.
I am proud to be supporting this legislation. I am proud that our government has taken the time to get it right and to work with the communities, the individuals and the advocates involved. I am glad that we have had good input from the opposition and robust debate. Better is always possible. On this file, better must be achieved as a possibility because that is the goal here: how to make sure the rights of every Canadian, regardless of the physical circumstance he or she is born with or acquired, be respected with dignity and how to make sure the federal government responds to complaints and concerns effectively, quickly and in a progressive way.
I am proud our government is the government that has brought this forward. I am proud that we will be passing this legislation, and I am proud to be sitting in the House to vote on it.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
2019-05-16 12:15 [p.27926]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Hébert.
I stand today in the House to call on the House to declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency. To address that, we must not only meet our national emissions targets under the Paris Agreement, but we must go further. As I say that, I pause, because this is a real and scary truth, and fear is a difficult emotion.
When I was thinking about this debate today, I thought about when I was a teenager and saw a film called If You Love This Planet. It was about the dangers of nuclear weapons. What I felt when I saw that film was fear. Fear can be immobilizing, and that is a danger when we are talking about something like a climate emergency. We cannot be immobilized. We need to take action, and we need to take action now.
Today, as we participate in this debate, we are facing that fear and putting a direction and a course of action as to how we will respond, because our country is on a path to transition to a low-carbon economy. We are on that path and we cannot falter; in fact, we need to speed up. For me, seeing how we are proceeding with the transition to a low-carbon economy is what gives me hope and strength to know how we are going to move forward.
Today, I will outline some of the things we are doing. I do not have enough time to speak about all of the actions that are being taken, but I will be talking about the price on pollution, building retrofits, investments in public transportation and a zero-emission vehicle strategy, and phasing out coal-fired electricity. Those are all steps that are being taken right now as we transition toward a low-carbon economy.
Before we go further, I would like to address one factor that has given me reason to question, and I know that I have had questions from others about what our government's climate plan is, and that factor is the Trans Mountain pipeline. I opposed the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, but there is one thing I must emphasize. I disagree with people who say that this purchase negates all of the other work that is being done to transition to a low-carbon economy. It does not. There is much work that is being done right now, and there is much more that needs to be done. We need to keep pushing.
I give a shout-out to all the activists and environmentalists out there, because they are the ones who helped to clear the path and to push us down that path further toward a low-carbon economy. We need that strength. As we push forward, we also need to mark where we have come from, where we are now and where we want to go, what the further steps are. It is a road map. Without a road map, it can be dispiriting because we cannot just push without looking forward, looking backward and seeing what we need to get to success.
What have we been doing over the past three and a half years to transition to a low-carbon economy? The single most important piece, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is putting a price on pollution. Here I want to thank some of the environmental activists out there. Citizens' Climate Lobby has been wonderful in coming out and taking the time to speak to MPs and educate communities about the importance of a price on pollution. Its work has been tremendous.
Last year, Paul Romer and William Nordhaus won the Nobel Prize for economics. Both studied a price on pollution, and what they found was that it works. It works because it signals to consumers and to producers which services and which goods have a higher carbon effect on us. It also encourages innovation, and that is exactly what we need: We need to innovate.
When William Nordhaus looked for a place to point out as a success story, he pointed to British Columbia, which has a system very similar to the plan that is being rolled out nationally. He pointed to the fact that not only does British Columbia have a strong economy, but it has lowered per capita gasoline use and improved vehicle fuel efficiency. The price on pollution has worked, and it has been there for over a decade.
Here I give a shout-out to the activists, because this is where we need to stand strong together.
The price on pollution is essential, but there is a lot of pressure right now to dismantle that system. There are court cases in Saskatchewan and in Ontario. I was very pleased that we won the court case in Saskatchewan in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, but there is a lot of pressure. Right now, in Ontario, the Ontario government is rolling out a $30-million ad campaign to convince people that a price on pollution is not the way to go. Rather than using the money for planting trees and fighting climate change and doing what we need to do, the Ontario government has chosen to use that money to fight the climate plan, to fight this essential building block.
This is an active battle. The price on pollution must stay. We need it as an essential building block for a low-carbon economy. To everyone who believes we need to do this and believes there is a climate emergency, we need to come together and fight to make sure the price on pollution stays.
As I was studying the sources of our emissions and what we need to do, one thing I found surprising was that it is buildings that are the largest CO2 emitters in cities. In fact, in the GTHA, 44% of our emissions come from buildings. A lot of work is being done right now to address that issue. Some of it relates to retrofits, model building codes, energy efficiency regulations and innovation. All of these are important steps in trying to reduce the emissions coming from our buildings.
The largest source of the greenhouse gases coming from our buildings is what we use to heat and cool them, and in Toronto there have been federal investments in the Enwave deep lake cooling system. That system cools all of downtown Toronto's hospitals in a low-carbon way. It does not produce all of those emissions, which is exactly what we are trying to move away from. It also cools many of Toronto's downtown buildings, including university buildings and office buildings. Through federal investments, we have allowed that system to expand, and that is exactly the innovation we want to see.
We have also put in place energy efficiency regulations to improve the energy performance of over 20 categories of appliances and equipment. This will decrease GHG emissions by about 700,000 tonnes by 2030.
Another thing I care about deeply is emissions from transportation, and I have been working on this issue. About 25% of Canada's emissions come from transportation. Our government has made historic investments in public transit, and we are also deploying electrical vehicle charging stations and implementing a zero emissions vehicle strategy. All of these things will come together as part of the transition to a low-carbon economy.
I am a TTC rider and I use public transit. I know that the system in Toronto faces many problems related to overcrowding and maintenance issues. In my own community, we feel deeply the need for a relief line.
Our government has made investments there. In fact, almost $5 billion was allocated for public transit in the city of Toronto. However, there are some hiccups right now with the provincial government, and that is causing some complications. Despite this, I can say that all of my Toronto colleagues and I are championing and will champion the city's public transit system. We will stand by our city leaders to make sure Toronto gets what it needs to have a strong transit system.
So far, we have funded maintenance, which, as I said, was much needed, and we have addressed the need for buses. We have helped to purchase electric buses, and we have also invested in active transportation, such as in expanding bike sharing and bike parking. I would love to see a national active transportation strategy.
The last piece is about coal. I note that 11% of Canada's electricity supply is from coal-fired electricity, but it is responsible for 72% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector.
Ontario moved away from coal-fired plants many years ago, and we felt the difference. We used to have 50 smog days a year, and we are now down to zero. That is a tremendous difference, and it has an impact on our health. It is something we need to do.
We are moving on a just transition away from coal-fired plants. In talking to members today, I am building out that road map.
We have a long road to travel, but we are on it, and we need to work together to make sure that we continue in our transition to a low-carbon economy.
View Peter Kent Profile
View Peter Kent Profile
2019-05-16 12:43 [p.27930]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Chilliwack—Hope, our chief opposition whip.
After several hours now of overheated Liberal rhetoric and revisionist history, it is time to get back to some basic facts. Climate change is real; climate change is a global problem, and climate change demands a global solution.
Canada, which generates barely 1.6% of global GHG emissions, must still do its part. That is why the leader of the official opposition will lay out the most comprehensive climate policy ever proposed by an opposition party in Canadian history, just a few weeks from now.
The motion before us fails to acknowledge that Canada today falls far short of its emissions reduction targets, so let us just take a look at Canada's targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
When they came to office, the Liberals embraced the same targets set by the previous Conservative government, to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. When those Conservative targets were set, it was not with a carbon tax imposed on commuters and soccer moms and small businesses. We focused on the major emissions sectors. Working with the scientists at Environment Canada and the scientific community beyond, we developed meaningful regulations that did not hamstring hard-working Canadian taxpayers or the Canadian economy.
Transportation was the largest emitting sector, with about a quarter of Canada's total annual emissions. With our American counterparts, we developed continental tailpipe regulations that are still reducing emissions today. These regulations, which came into force in 2012 and built on existing regulations, require that all cars and light trucks built between 2017 and 2025 be required to cut emissions by an average of 5% every year. These regulations will see tailpipe emissions reduced to 50% of what they were in 2008.
There is a cost. The new technology adds somewhat to the cost of each new model year, but there is a significant offsetting benefit. Fuel consumption will also be reduced by some 50% from 2008 levels by 2025.
When the Liberals, with gesticulation and hyperbole, hysterically defend their carbon tax, which is indiscriminately imposed on commuters, soccer moms and small business transport companies, they are actually imposing a cost on top of what these motorists are already paying for environmentally responsible technology and significantly reduced emissions and fuel consumption. The bottom line is that the Liberals are riding on reductions that are still being realized today as a result of the previous Conservative government's regulations on large emitters.
Similarly, the previous Conservative government achieved reductions by regulating the coal-fired electricity generating sector, which effectively banned the construction of any new coal-fired units that use old technology.
It is true that we did not hit our overall targets, but it is also true that we did not compromise the economic well-being of hard-working taxpayers or the competitiveness of our economy overall. We worked to protect the environment at the same time as we worked to protect the economy.
We made progress. Emissions were reduced, in sharp contrast to the world's major emitters, who blithely signed the Kyoto and Copenhagen accords and then did nothing. I am talking about China, which generates almost two-thirds of global GHG emissions, and whose emissions are still rising. I am talking about the United States, India, Brazil and so many other countries whose representatives, along with this Liberal government, partied the nights away in Paris and signed the Paris Agreement with toasts of champagne and foie gras tasties.
That brings me back to the motion before us and its preposterous objective of deepening targets, which would risk our economic well-being and achieve precious little in global terms while the major polluting countries keep pumping out ever-increasing amounts of GHGs.
Again, the motion fails to acknowledge that Canada continues to fall far short of its emissions reduction targets.
We have proposed an amendment to the motion that would recognize the reality we face, that Canada is failing to meet its targets under the Liberal plan. It would demand that the Liberals table a real environment plan, not a revenue plan and not a tax plan, to lower emissions and achieve Canada's targets.
We know that small-business owners and their employees care about the environment and have implemented a wide range of environmental initiatives. However, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has just released a policy position paper that reveals that 87% of business owners in the four provinces where the federal carbon backstop tax is positioned say that they are opposed to the carbon tax and that the majority of these business owners will not be able to pass on their costs to consumers.
The CFIB numbers also show that small businesses will pay almost 50% of the carbon tax, with 50% paid by households. While the Liberals claim that households will get back 90% of their carbon taxes paid in rebate payments, small-business owners will get back rebates of barely 7% of their carbon taxes paid. With just about every aspect of the Prime Minister's climate change policy position, this motion has little to do with meaningful action and everything to do with desperate virtue-signalling politics.
The Prime Minister was elected, promising sunny ways, transparency, accountability, rainbows and unicorns, but he is running away from yet another scandal and trying to distract from it. He finished a dismal fourth in a British Columbia by-election. He is desperate and he is trying to find anything to change the channel.
The Liberals have had three and a half years to come up with a real plan for the environment. Meanwhile, Canada is falling further and further away from emission targets, even as the Liberals attempt to defend the carbon tax, which hits hard-working taxpayers and small businesses, while allowing at the same time massive exemption for the big polluters.
Again, climate change is real, climate change is a global problem, climate change is a global challenge and climate change demands global solutions. In contrast to the Liberals' failed plan, their high-carbon hypocrisy, in just a few short weeks, the Conservatives will lay out an environment plan that our Conservative leader promises will provide the best chance of reaching Canada's targets, the most comprehensive climate policy ever proposed by an opposition party in Canadian history.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-05-10 13:44 [p.27649]
Madam Speaker, I rise today to join this important debate on Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts with regard to ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.
Both I and my constituents in Parkdale—High Park have anticipated this piece of legislation for some time since it moved from the Senate to this House. Now that it has returned from the fisheries and oceans committee without amendment, I am pleased to stand and speak in favour of this bill. It is important to highlight the important work that was done by a unanimous fisheries and oceans committee to get it back before this House expeditiously.
Before I speak to the substantive elements of the bill, I want to add my voice to the voice of the leader of the Green Party and thank the Senate sponsors for this bill, the now retired Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Murray Sinclair, who carried the bill forward after Senator Moore's retirement. I want to thank as well the House of Commons sponsor, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who commenced this debate today. All of these individuals have been tireless advocates for this legislation, and their activism and advocacy has helped carry Bill S-203 to this point we are at this afternoon.
The bill itself seeks to prohibit the taking of a cetacean into captivity and will amend the Criminal Code to create offences respecting cetaceans in captivity. It will also amend other acts to require a permit for the import of a cetacean into Canada and the export of one from Canada.
I want to begin by tracking our government's progress on the commitment to promote animal welfare rights in Canada and abroad. This is an important issue to me and the constituents of my riding of Parkdale—High Park, as I frequently hear from them about the work we must all do collectively to ensure the welfare of animals. Since 2015, we have made progress on this commitment.
In my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, one of the pieces of legislation I have had the privilege of working on is Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code in relation to bestiality and animal fighting. That bill will make important amendments to our Criminal Code to change the definition of bestiality and expand the animal fighting provisions to capture more of this conduct and ensure offenders are brought to justice.
This week is indeed a momentous week in this chamber, because it was only this week that Bill C-84 received third reading and was then sent to the Senate. I, along with many others, look forward to its study and its eventual passage there. In the same week that we dealt with Bill C-84 in this chamber, we are dealing today with Bill S-203. It has been an important week for animal rights in this country.
With the help of stakeholders such as farmers, industry groups, provinces and territories, and veterinarians, our government has also been active on ensuring proper and humane animal transport. Federally, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the CFIA, administers the enforcement of regulations related to animal transport, and plans are under way to modernize the regulations and humane transport provisions of the health of animals regulations. These have not been updated since the 1970s. The need to reduce animal suffering during transportation is clear.
In 2017, we also announced an investment of $1.31 million to an entity known as the Canadian Animal Health Coalition, the CAHC, to help ensure the safe transportation of livestock, develop emergency management tools for the livestock industry and improve animal care assessments.
We have also been engaged with stakeholders on the topic of animal welfare during the slaughter process. The stakeholders in my riding of Parkdale—High Park have spoken to me repeatedly about the need to ensure that animals are handled humanely at all points of their lives and that the high standards we expect regarding animal treatment are upheld. I absolutely agree with their sentiment that this kind of protection must be a priority, which is why I currently serve as a member of the Liberal animal welfare caucus.
Let us get back to the bill before us, Bill S-203.
Scientists agree that whales, dolphins and other extraordinary marine mammals like them should not be kept in captivity or bred in captivity, and that doing so amounts to cruelty.
Additionally, it is well documented that the live capture of cetaceans and their transport to a foreign habitat harms the natural habitat where the cetaceans originate. At a time when oceans are under increased threat from a number sources, such as habitat destruction, coastal pollution, overfishing and global warming, which all harm these cetaceans, we can scarcely afford to be keeping them in captivity.
We must also think about the difficult living conditions for cetaceans that live in a confined space, such as an aquarium, without the social contact and normal activities most cetaceans in the wild would enjoy. Those that live in captivity suffer from a higher rate of physical health issues and a lower life expectancy.
As well, calves generally suffer from a much higher mortality rate and a lack of emotional connection to others of their species as a result of the limited space when they are in captivity.
Therefore, where we may have seen whales, dolphins and other cetaceans in an aquarium as a form of entertainment in bygone years, in many cases we now realize that it actually amounts to animal cruelty. Thus, our government firmly agrees that the capture of cetaceans for the sole purpose of being kept for public display should be ended.
Importantly, while the banning of whale captivity is not yet in law, the practice has been in place for some years now, which is a good sign. Bill C-68, which was mentioned earlier in today's debate in one of the questions by a member opposite, was introduced by our government. It is currently in the Senate and passed in the House in June of last year. It includes amendments to end the captivity of whales unless for rehabilitation. This legislation now before us is the next step, the next important step, in ensuring the safety and security of these intelligent and complex creatures.
Presently, as was mentioned by the Leader of the Green Party, there are two aquaria in Canada that are holding cetaceans: the Vancouver Aquarium, in British Columbia, and Marineland, in Ontario. The Vancouver Aquarium, which is a not-for-profit institution, currently has a Pacific white-sided dolphin, which was rescued from the wild and deemed not releasable, as well as five belugas on loan to aquaria in the United States. The Vancouver Park Board has not permitted the aquarium to hold cetaceans captured from the wild for display purposes since 1996, but it does work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to respond to cetaceans in the wild requiring rescue and rehabilitation. Marineland holds the remaining balance of cetaceans, including one orca.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans retains the authority to issue a licence for the capture of live cetaceans. However, only one such licence has been issued over the past decade, and that was for the rescue and rehabilitation of a stranded Pseudorca calf. No licence has been issued for the purpose of displaying a cetacean publicly in over 20 years. As stated earlier, it has been the practice of successive Canadian governments that cetaceans not be captured or placed in captivity unless for rehabilitation.
It is also important to note the elements of Bill S-203 that relate to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, some of which feature whales and dolphins as a key component of their culture and traditions. These provisions were not initially part of the bill, but through the significant consultation process that took place while Bill S-203 was being studied in the Senate, the bill was sufficiently and appropriately altered.
It is essential to consider and address the needs of indigenous peoples. This is something I have heard frequently from the knowledgeable, engaged constituents of my riding of Parkdale—High Park and literally from people right around the country. They have always echoed to me that we in this place, as legislators, must apply an indigenous lens to all the legislation, government or otherwise, that comes before us. I am pleased to see that this is in fact exactly what was done in the Senate when it engaged in those consultations.
This legislation complements our government's work, which I have outlined. We are committed to the recovery and protection of marine mammals. This commitment is evident through another investment we have made, which is a $1.5-billion investment in what is an historic oceans protection plan that would help restore our marine ecosystems, in partnership with our indigenous partners.
As well, there has been a five-year $167-million investment in the whales initiative, which would take concrete steps to help endangered whales and reduce the impact of human-caused threats. Our latest announcement was $61 million for measures in support of the southern resident killer whale population off the coast of British Columbia.
Bill S-203 is one aspect of the support our government is giving to marine animals and their habitat. Bill S-203 is also supported by some significant leaders in the field of marine science and animal welfare, including Humane Canada and Animal Justice. Even the former head trainer at Marineland, Mr. Philip Demers, has expressed support for the measures in this bill.
What I think we are seeing here with Bill S-203 is the proper and necessary evolution of rights protections for animals in this country. It is a bill whose time has come. It is a bill I am very proud to support on behalf of my constituents and as a member of the government. I urge all members to do the same.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Vance Badawey Profile
2019-02-27 14:13 [p.25851]
Mr. Speaker, on February 20, I had the pleasure to table the interim report on establishing a Canadian transportation and logistics strategy. The 31 recommendations contained within the report are to promote the free movement of goods and people domestically and over international borders. It is easy to see how this fluidity could positively affect local, domestic and international business interests. Equally important is to recognize how it will impact individual citizens: Canadians.
In Niagara Centre, I look forward to working with our partners to strengthen our economy, aligning with international investment opportunities and promoting the best use of Niagara's transportation-related assets.
This report reinforces strategic, integrated transportation priorities within Niagara and will align with future capital investments. This will strengthen Niagara's overall global trade performance and will therefore provide and sustain good, stable jobs throughout our region.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Vance Badawey Profile
2019-02-20 15:34 [p.25562]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a report from the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities with respect to the national transportation strategy. We expect that this report will be presented to the minister and will be reported back to the committee.
View Bill Morneau Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Morneau Profile
2018-11-21 16:12 [p.23680]
Mr. Speaker, the fact is that when the members opposite push for an aggressive elimination of the deficit, what they really mean is aggressive cuts in services, cuts that would make life harder for people and for families. That is not what we want for Canada, and it is not what Canadians want for themselves.
We choose a different path: one that is a targeted, measured and fiscally responsible; one that encourages businesses to invest in growth, and create more good, well-paying jobs for middle-class Canadians; one that makes it clear to businesses that if they have a choice to invest on either side of the border, Canada is the smart and sensible choice. This path ensures that our federal debt-to-GDP ratio continues on a steady downward track.
It is worth remembering that we already have the best balance sheet among our key allies, and that our government has made an absolute commitment to maintaining that competitive advantage in a volatile world.
I will tell you why it is important to get the fundamentals right. As much as we are taking positive actions today to help grow the economy and invest in middle-class jobs, the reality is that there are challenges all around us.
The challenges range from the uncertainty about the global economy to concerns about lingering trade disputes to the challenges facing the oil and gas sector in Alberta, which is contending today with very low crude oil prices. The market prices are so low compared with international benchmarks. That is why we are matching our words with actions, to ensure that we can achieve greater market access for our resources in the right way.
Let there be no mistake. We could have ignored the concerns of business leaders, decided not to make the investments and the changes that are part of the fall economic statement, and we would have had a lower deficit as a result. To have done so would have been neither a rational response nor a responsible one.
We are choosing, once again, to trust Canadians—the people who put their trust in us. We know that if we give Canadian businesses more opportunities to succeed and grow, they will do just that. One of the greatest opportunities for Canada's economy is connected to the global shift toward clean growth.
In 2016, our government worked with provinces and territories, in consultation with indigenous peoples, to reach Canada's first ever national clean growth and climate action plan. It is a comprehensive plan that invests in public transit, phases out coal power, invests in clean energy, prices pollution and supports energy efficiency across Canada.
Conservative politicians here in the House and in some provincial capitals want to bury their heads in the sand and ignore what is happening to the climate and to the economy. They want to make pollution free again and let our kids and grandkids deal with the consequences. We are not going to let that happen. Pollution was free, so we had too much of it. This is the root of the problem, and we are going to fix it.
After three years of strong action, Canada is now poised to lead and succeed in the global clean growth economy, an opportunity that is estimated to be worth $26 trillion in the next dozen years. To help get us there, we are announcing our intention to create an advisory council on climate action that would give our government expert advice on how we can further reduce pollution and encourage economic growth in two crucial areas: the transportation sector and the building sector.
We intend to name two Canadian clean growth leaders, Steven Guilbeault and Tamara Vrooman, to help lead that work.
It is not enough to simply clean up the economy. We need to make a cleaner economy more affordable to middle-class Canadians. That is why our government will not keep any of the revenues from pricing pollution. We will return every single penny to provinces and territories where we collect it, and 80% of Canadian families will be better off as a result.
Our government is confident that if we give Canadian businesses more opportunities to succeed and grow they will meet and exceed all expectations.
To encourage businesses to invest in their own growth and create more good, well-paying jobs, our government proposes to allow businesses to immediately write-off for tax purposes the full cost of machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing and processing of goods.
We will also allow specified clean energy equipment to be eligible for an immediate write-off of the full cost. This will help achieve climate goals and boost Canada's global competitiveness.
In response to requests from the business community, we are also introducing a new accelerated investment incentive, an accelerated capital cost allowance for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy. This incentive will encourage more businesses to invest in assets that will drive business growth over the long term, setting the stage for more good middle-class jobs across our country.
Our government is also setting an ambitious agenda to make Canada the most globally connected economy in the world. We are already well on our way. With the successful conclusion of the new NAFTA, as well as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, we now have comprehensive free trade agreements with countries representing two-thirds of the world's GDP.
Canada is now the only G7 country to have free trade agreements with all other G7 countries.
We want to give Canadian businesses more opportunities to grow, succeed and create good, well-paying jobs. That is why we are launching an export diversification strategy, to directly support Canadian businesses to grow their overseas sales by 50% by 2025.
Here at home we are going to work with our provincial and territorial partners to remove barriers to internal trade within Canada. Specifically, we will work to find ways to ensure that businesses can transport goods more easily, to harmonize food regulations and inspections, to align regulations in the construction sector and to facilitate greater trade in alcohol.
We will also take steps to modernize regulations so that it is easier for Canadian businesses to grow, and we will do that in ways that continue to protect Canadians' health and safety as well as that of the environment.
We intend to move forward with additional investments that will help Canadian innovators add value, succeed and grow.
Because our economy is doing well, we also have the fiscal room to continue to follow through on the commitments we made to Canadians.
We know that the best solutions for Canada's big challenges come from Canadians themselves. When charities, non-profit and social enterprises have access to capital and investment, they can innovate and go further than government can do alone. That is exactly what we are doing today by launching a new social finance fund.
We have also been working with local residents to reform the Nutrition North Canada program so that this program ensures better access to affordable, nutritious traditional food and is transparent, effective and accountable to northerners and other Canadians.
A key part of Canada's digital and creative advantage is our francophone culture. The protection and promotion of that culture unlocks enormous economic opportunity, not just in Canada but around the world. That is why we are helping to create a new francophone digital platform, in partnership with TV5MONDE public broadcasters.
To protect the vital role that independent news media play in our democracy and in our communities, we will be introducing measures to help support journalism in Canada.
To help sustain Canada's wild fish stocks and the communities that rely on them, we will invest in efforts to rebuild fish stocks. We will also introduce two new funds: a British Columbia salmon restoration and innovation fund and a Quebec fisheries fund to support the fish and seafood sectors in those two provinces.
What these and the other measures in the fall economic statement all have in common is this. They are all part of our government's plan to follow through on the commitments we made to Canadians to strengthen and grow the middle class and to offer real help to people working hard to join it; to grow the economy and invest in the middle class; and to give Canadians the help they need to succeed, by making smart investments to grow our economy for the long term, while we bring the books back toward balance.
That is what Canadians expect of us. That is what we promised, and that is exactly what we are doing.
View Michael Chong Profile
Madam Speaker, Bill C-69, in front of us today, has a lot of different changes to current acts of Parliament, but also introduces new acts of Parliament. While I support one of the principles in the bill, which is the “one project, one assessment” process for major natural resource projects, there are too many problems with this bill for me to support it.
In particular, I want to focus on the new impact assessment act that the bill creates. First and foremost, the bill will not streamline, and make quicker, assessments for projects designated to be included in the project list. While the government says that the proposed impact assessment act would reduce the current legislated timelines for reviewing projects from 365 days to a maximum of 300 days for assessments led by the new review agency, and from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days for assessments led by a review panel, it is failing to acknowledge that while these timelines are shorter, the new legislation also introduces a planning phase ahead of an assessment led by either the review agency or the review panel. That planning phase can last up to 180 days.
In fact, this legislation will actually increase the amount of time that it takes for major natural resource projects to be reviewed under a federal environmental assessment. Furthermore, while the timelines put in place for the actual impact assessment are shorter, the timelines in the current legislation in front of the House can be extended by the Minister of Environment and by the cabinet, repeatedly.
There is nothing in this legislation to suggest that the process by which we review proposed projects will be shorter, in fact it suggests that it is actually going to be longer. The legislation in front of us will not actually lead to more efficient and less costly assessments for companies looking to invest in Canada's natural resource sector. In fact, the evidence in the bill is that it is going to be much more expensive for companies to make these applications, because the government has proposed to substantially expand the number of criteria that the review agency or review panel has to take into consideration when it is assessing a project. It does not just have to take into account environmental factors. It now also has to take into account health, social, and economic impacts, as well as impacts on other issues, and these impacts over the long term.
When we take into account this vastly expanded criteria and that it is vastly expanded over the long term, it is clear that companies are going to have to spend a lot more money preparing for these applications and working through the application process.
Proposed section 22 of the impact assessment act lists more than 20 factors that have to be considered in assessing the impact of a designated project. For example, there is a reference to sustainability and to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. These are just some of the added criteria that the government has added to the process, which is just going to increase the cost and complexity for proponents. It is not only going to be a much longer process for proponents to go through; it is also going to be a much costlier process.
This is a big problem, because we have a problem in Canada with attracting, not just domestic but foreign investment for natural resource projects. In fact, Statistics Canada recently, this past spring, highlighted that there has been the biggest drop in foreign direct investment into this country in eight years. Last year saw the deepest plunge in foreign investment in this country since the deep, dark days of 2010, when we were just coming out of the recession of 2009 caused by the global financial crisis of 2008.
We have seen a massive plunge in foreign direct investment, a massive drop in investors willing to invest in Canadian companies. In fact, last year, for the second year in a row, we saw more foreign selling of Canadian companies than purchasing of Canadian companies. This has led to a drop in investment, particularly in the oil sector, with the commensurate drop in jobs and growth.
However, there is another problem with the bill that I want to highlight, which has to do with the designated project list. In other words, there is a problem in how certain projects get designated for an environmental assessment and how other projects do not. It remains to be seen with the proposed legislation whether or not the government will get it right in regulation.
Earlier this year, the government announced that it was going to undertake consultations with a view to help revise the regulations concerning the designated projects list. The Liberals said they would be coming forward with new regulations under the proposed act, and I hope they read the Hansard transcript tonight of the debates here in the House of Commons to ensure that our input is incorporated, if the bill does pass, in these new regulations.
The problem is one of inequity and unfairness from a whole range of perspectives. If a mine is proposed in western Canada, let us say in Alberta, under both the pre-2012 rules and the current 2012 rules, and potentially under the proposed legislation, it would undergo a federal environmental assessment. However, if that same mine was proposed in southern Ontario, mines that we often call “gravel pits” or “quarries”, it would not undergo a federal environmental assessment.
I will give members an example of this. In 2011, a mega-quarry was proposed in southern Ontario by an American company that had acquired over 2,500 acres of prime farmland in Dufferin County. That American company had acquired the equivalent of 10 square kilometres of land to build an open pit mine. Under the pre-2012 rules and the 2012 rules, and potentially under this proposed legislation, the federal government said that it did not require a federal environmental assessment, yet if that same 10 square kilometre mine was proposed in Alberta, let us say an open pit bitumen mine, a federal environmental assessment most certainly would have been required. This is an example of the unfairness of the current and potentially the proposed system the federal government has.
If one builds a mine to extract iron ore or bitumen in western Canada, one would undergo a federal environmental assessment, but if the same mine is proposed in southern Ontario, then do not worry, the government will turn a blind eye and not have it undergo that federal environmental assessment. Therefore, it is not just treating one sector of the economy different from another, the oil and gas sector, or the iron ore sector compared with the aggregate sector, but it is also treating one region of the country differently from another, and that is not fair. I hope that the government, in undertaking these consultations, takes that into account.
It is also not fair to the environment when a 10 square kilometre open pit mega-quarry is proposed for southern Ontario, which would have plunged 200 feet deep and pumped 600 million litres of fresh water out of the pit each and every day. It should undergo the same federal environmental assessment that a mine of similar size would undergo in western Canada. It should undergo that, because in southern Ontario we have the most dense biosphere in the entire country. There is all the more need to protect this dense biosphere, which is under greater threat than any other part of the country largely due to the growing urban populations we see in the Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Windsor, and Toronto corridor.
I hope the government's yet-to-be-created project list, whether it is based on the current legislation or the proposed legislation, treats all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country fairly, and I hope the department is incorporating this input as it comes forward with new regulations.
There is yet another problem with the proposed legislation before the House, and it plays into a broader pattern of the government, and that is of political interference. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton just pointed out, the proposed legislation would allow the minister a veto power over natural resource project applications. This is unprecedented in this country. Until the Liberal government came to power, not a single natural resource project had been rejected or approved by the federal cabinet before the federal environmental assessment process had been completed, and not a single federal environmental assessment process had been overruled by federal cabinet.
In other words, up until this government, the federal cabinet accepted every single recommendation coming out of a federal environmental review process over the many decades that it was in place. The current government's rejection of the northern gateway pipeline was the first time the federal cabinet had stopped the process for the review of a major natural resource project before allowing that process to be completed and before allowing the cabinet to accept fully the recommendations of that process.
Here, in this legislation, we see a repeat of that pattern. They are proposing to give the minister a veto power. Before an impact assessment can begin, the minister will have the power not to conduct an assessment if the minister believes the proposed project would cause unacceptable effects. That is so broad a criteria that a person could drive a Mack truck through that. There again we see the politicization of processes that were once arm's length, quasi-judicial, and left to the professional public service.
Another example of this politicization of what was once performed by the professional public service, by quasi-judicial entities, is Bill C-49. Bill C-49 gives the Minister of Transport a political veto over a review of joint ventures by an airline. Up to Bill C-49, and for many years, any airline that wanted to enter into a joint venture had to undergo a review by one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the world, the Competition Bureau, to ensure that there were no anti-competitive results from a joint venture. In fact, when Air Canada proposed a joint venture with United Airlines some years ago, the Competition Bureau said no to the original proposal for that joint venture and said they had to pull out of that joint venture a number of cross-border routes because they would be deleterious to competition, and because it would increase prices for consumers and for businesses across Canada.
What the current government has done through Bill C-49, which it rammed through the House and Senate, is it has given the Minister of Transport the ability to veto that process through a broad definition of public interest to bypass the Competition Bureau's review of a joint venture, and to rubber-stamp a joint venture in the interests of the airline and against the competition interests of consumers in this country. With the recent passage of Bill C-49, Air Canada has announced a joint venture with Air China. I do not think that is any coincidence.
Thus, these are just a few examples of how the government is politicizing the process for law enforcement of our competition laws and for the review of major natural resource projects that no previous government has ever done.
Finally, I want to critique the Liberal government's general approach to environmental issues. The Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty. On pipeline approvals, they have created uncertainty. That is why Kinder Morgan has announced that it is pulling out of Canada and why it sold its assets to the Government of Canada. They have created a climate of uncertainty in the business community. That is why, as I previously mentioned, Statistics Canada, this spring, reported that foreign investment into Canada plunged last year to its lowest level in eight years. There has been an exodus of capital from the country's oil and gas sector. Statistics Canada reports that capital flows dropped for a second year in a row last year, and are down by more than half since 2015. Net foreign purchases by foreign businesses of Canadian businesses are now less than sales by those foreign businesses, meaning that foreign companies sold more Canadian businesses than they bought.
On climate change, they have created a great deal of uncertainty.
The Liberals came with big fanfare with their price on carbon, but they have only priced it out to $50 per tonne to 2022. They have not announced what happens after 2022. We are four short years away from 2022, and businesses and consumers need the certainty of what happens after 2022.
Furthermore, the Liberals have created uncertainty because $50 per tonne does not get us to our Paris accord targets. In fact, last autumn the Auditor General came forward with a report saying that Canada will not meet its Paris accord targets of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 with the $50-per-tonne target. He estimated that we are some 45 megatonnes short of the target.
The Liberals have created uncertainty with their climate change policy because they have been inconsistent on climate change policy. They are inconsistent with how they treat one sector of the economy versus another. For example, they demand that projects in the oil and gas sector take into account both upstream and downstream emissions, while not requiring projects in other sectors of the economy to do the same.
They are inconsistent with climate change policy in the way they treat one region of the country versus another. The Auditor General's report from a week ago, report 4, highlights the inconsistency in the way they treat central Canadians versus the way they treat westerners.
For example, the Liberals tell western Canadian oil and gas producers that climate change impacts need to be part of the approval process of any major natural resource project, and yet they turn around, and one of the first decisions they make as a government is to waive the tolls on the new federal bridge in Montreal, a $4-billion-plus bridge. The Auditor General reported, in report 4 last week, that waiving the tolls will result in a 20% increase in vehicular traffic over that bridge, from 50 million to 60 million cars and trucks a year, an additional 10 million vehicles crossing that bridge every year, with the attendant greenhouse gases and pollution that this entails.
The Liberals tell companies and Canadians on one side of the country that they have to take into account greenhouse gas emissions when they propose a new project in the oil and gas sector, but when the government builds a brand new federal bridge in Montreal for $4 billion-plus, it is not going to take into account those greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it will waive the tolls, which is going to lead to a 20% jump in traffic, with the attendant greenhouse gas emissions that this entails.
Finally, the Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty by their failure to realize that our income taxes are too high. The government talks a good game about the environment and the economy, but the facts speak otherwise. They blew a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reduce corporate and personal income taxes. They failed to seize the opportunity of using the revenues generated by the price of carbon to drive down our high corporate and personal income taxes. They also failed to seize the opportunity to reform our income tax system to reduce its complexity and its distortive nature.
Our system was reformed in 1971 by the government of Pierre Trudeau. It was reformed again in 1986 by the government of Brian Mulroney. It has been over 30 years since we have had any significant income tax reform to our personal income tax system or our corporate income tax system, and the Liberals blew the chance to do it, even though they promised to take a look at tax reform in their very first budget.
The government talks a good game on the environment and the economy, but the facts say otherwise. It is a story of a missed opportunity, and that is why I cannot support this bill.
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2018-05-11 10:06 [p.19365]
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that this House respectfully disagrees with amendments 7(c) and 8 made by the Senate to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2018-05-11 10:07 [p.19365]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to once again speak to the several benefits to shippers this historic piece of legislation would provide. Bill C-49 represents a watershed moment for Canada's freight rail sector. It would put in place the right conditions over the long term for a safe, fair, efficient, and transparent freight rail transportation system, for the benefit of all users.
We understand the concerns of captive rail shippers in the Maritimes, but it is critical that we ensure the continued viability and fluidity of the eastern rail network, including through the Montreal area. The proposed amendments from the other place would apply to a significant portion of the tonnage moving on CN's network in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Subjecting this traffic to long-haul interswitching, LHI, could impact the future viability of CN's rail services in eastern Canada, particularly on the northernmost branch line in New Brunswick, where line abandonment has been threatened in the past.
While LHI will not be expanded to allow captive shippers in the Maritimes to access the remedy in Montreal, the bill would make significant improvements to existing remedies that would benefit these same shippers. Shippers in the Maritimes would continue to have access to other shipper remedies contained in the act, many of which would be improved by the bill, including a definition of adequate and suitable rail service; the ability of shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements; final offer arbitration, FOA; and a new, anonymous dispute resolution service.
Despite the many benefits this bill would provide, some continue to push for further amendments to the final offer arbitration process, a process that is already highly valued by shippers in its current form. However, FOA would already be strengthened under Bill C-49 by allowing shippers to pursue FOA to extend the applicability of an arbitrator's decision from one to two years and by raising the financial threshold for pursuing this streamlined summary FOA process for rate disputes from $750,000 to $2 million, therefore allowing more small and medium-size shippers to use this option.
Bill C-49 would also require railways to provide significant new data and performance metrics, including on rates, things that have never been available before. This would improve transparency, which would help shippers in their negotiations with railways.
Under the existing legislation, an arbitrator is already allowed to request technical assistance, including costing and legal assistance. There is nothing in the act that obligates the arbitrator to seek the consent of railways for such assistance, and the arbitrator can hold any failure to disclose information against a railway when coming to a decision.
Bill C-49 would benefit shippers in a variety of ways. In particular, it would enable shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties; shorten the process for level of service from 120 to 90 days; allow a shipper to extend FOA decisions from one to two years; change the financial threshold for participating in a streamlined arbitration process; make certain temporary agency authorities permanent; recognize the agency's informal dispute resolute authority; and require railways to provide significant new data and performance metrics, including new data on rates. It would also provide agency “own motion” powers to investigate service-level issues in the freight rail system.
Passage of the bill is of the utmost urgency. Grain farmers and shippers are depending on the bill to prepare for the coming harvest season. Many stakeholders, including the likes of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, the Grain Growers of Canada, and Cereals Canada, have stressed the need for Bill C-49 to be passed before the summer recess. These groups represent hard-working Canadians who are urging parliamentarians to pass the bill expeditiously, and in turn, to fight for them and their livelihoods.
The government and minister have carefully considered the risks, benefits, balance, and impacts of the policies in this bill. The bill has been thoroughly studied and debated for more than a year now in the two chambers. Prior to this, issues were studied by the Canadian transportation review panel, chaired by the hon. David Emerson. There has been an extensive series of additional round tables and consultations. All the input provided by stakeholders and witnesses was shared with the respective panels and committees.
It is clear that the other place wants the same as the government: an effective, efficient, and balanced rail system for the long term. The essential nature of the whole transportation system requires extensive study before changes are made to ensure that we do not end up with unintended consequences that put our system at risk. This study has taken place, and the government has produced a bill that best serves Canadians over the long term. There are many Canadians who will benefit from this bill, and they are eager to see it passed. It is now time to move forward.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2018-05-11 10:15 [p.19366]
Mr. Speaker, when we talk about Canada's transportation system, we talk about the need for it to be effective, efficient, fair, balanced, and comprehensive. Sometimes we might think something is a small change, maybe a local issue, but it could actually end up having nationwide consequences.
There has been considerable study, work, and effort put into the policies included in this bill. All those impacts have been taken into account. That is why this balance and an overall view is so important.
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