Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-03 15:04 [p.14534]
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow will be the sad anniversary of the tragic shooting in Moncton in which three RCMP officers were killed in the line of duty.
The report on that tragedy made many of the same recommendations found in the report on the shooting in Mayerthorpe, where four officers died eight and a half years earlier. Now the RCMP faces charges under the Canada Labour Code for inadequate training and equipment.
Ultimately, responsibility rests with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Why has the minister failed the RCMP and its funding needs? Why is the government not providing enough money to the RCMP for training and equipment so that its officers can protect themselves?
View Roxanne James Profile
View Roxanne James Profile
2015-06-03 15:05 [p.14534]
Mr. Speaker, it is rather unfortunate that the member has posed that question on the eve of the day that we should be honouring the three fallen RCMP members who lost their lives in the line of duty.
That said, our Conservative government has full confidence in the RCMP to enforce the laws of Canada and keep all Canadians safe.
The RCMP commissioned a report into this incident and is acting upon those recommendations.
View Joe Comartin Profile

Question No. 1146--
Mr. Mark Warawa:
With regard to government funding in the riding of Langley, for each fiscal year since 2005-2006 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1157--
Ms. Elizabeth May:
With regard to amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act in Part IV of Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts: (a) how soon after the coming into force of these provisions does the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (the Service) expect to begin to use its new powers to intervene to disrupt terror plots; (b) what will the costs be to provide supplementary training to Service agents and employees so that they may safely use their new powers; (c) what will the costs be to provide additional equipment to Service agents and employees so that they may safely use their new powers; (d) has there been a projection of the total costs of implementing Part IV of Bill C-51, including, but not limited to, the additional cost of the preparation, issuance and execution of warrants under section 21.1, and, if so, what are the details of this projection; (e) will the Service's budget be updated to match these new powers; and (f) will the Security Intelligence Review Committee's budget be increased to match these new powers?
(Return tabled)
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2015-05-13 21:58 [p.13894]
Mr. Chair, I would like to take this time to discuss advances we have made in relation to the Canadian High Arctic research station, or CHARS, which is a key element of Canada's northern strategy.
Canada's north is a fundamental part of Canada. It is part of our heritage, our future and our identity as a country. Our Conservative government recognizes the north's importance and unlike previous governments has taken action to strengthen this region. Our northern strategy outlines an overarching vision for the north for the benefit of all Canadians. It is taking concrete actions on four priority areas: exercising our Arctic sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting social and economic development, and improving and evolving northern governance.
The mandate of the research station includes undertaking science and technology research that supports resource development, the promotion of Arctic sovereignty and environmental stewardship. By conducting research that addresses some of the pressing problems facing northerners, CHARS is also committed to the development of strong and healthy communities across the north.
Within the 2015-16 main estimates, $47.6 million is being allocated for the construction of the Canadian High Arctic research station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and the implementation of the associated science and technology program. However, our government's support for CHARS is not new. In 2012, our Prime Minister announced funding of $142.4 million over six years for the construction and start-up of the station.
The development of CHARS is yet another step forward in achieving our government's vision for a strong, sovereign and prosperous north. It will cement Canada's place as a world leader in Arctic science and technology and provide a medium of exercising sovereignty over our northern lands. Science and technology research undertaken at CHARS will allow people to better understand and protect the northern environment. It will also contribute to the development and diversification of northern economies.
The Canadian High Arctic research station is currently under construction in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and is expected to be completed on schedule in 2017.
Recognizing the importance of traditional knowledge, the station's mandate specifies as a principle that the station will work with aboriginal peoples of Canada's north. The community of Cambridge Bay has also been actively involved in the development of the station. CHARS continues to be engaged in consultation with northerners and with input from aboriginal, academic, industry, territorial and government stakeholders.
The Canadian High Arctic research station will continue to rely upon the expertise and knowledge of all northerners, now and into the future, and will ensure the research conducted reflects northerners' rich history, traditions, expertise and knowledge. CHARS will complement and anchor the existing diverse network of facilities across the north and will comprise a suite of services for science and technology.
While the station at Cambridge Bay is expected to be operational in 2017, valuable research has already begun. Beginning on March 3, 2014, CHAR's chief scientist Dr. Martin Raillard has led the implementation of the science and technology program. In fact, the first field season of research was completed in the summer of 2014. Preparation for the second field season is well under way and proposals for the 2015-16 science and technology call for proposals are currently being reviewed.
The work to be done at the station will lead and support Arctic science and technology to develop and diversify the economy in Canada's Arctic; support the effective stewardship of Canada's Arctic lands, waters and resources; create a hub for scientific activity in Canada's vast and diverse Arctic; promote self-sufficient, vibrant and healthy northern communities; inspire and build capacity through training, education and outreach; enhance Canada's visible presence in the Arctic; and strengthen Canada's leadership on Arctic issues.
The new station will attract international scientists to work on science and technology issues in Canada's north and will strengthen Canada's leadership position in polar research. This station is being built by Canadians to serve Canada, and the world, and to engage northerners in the development of cutting-edge science and technology. Beyond promoting polar science, the Canadian High Arctic research station will also strengthen the Canadian economy.
CHARS will also promote jobs and training at the regional level, starting with the construction of the station, which is expected to generate up to 150 jobs, mostly locally, across the north. To date, 26 tender packages have been awarded, for a total of approximately $70 million; 65% of the value of this work will be undertaken by Inuit-owned or Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated registered firms.
Once CHARS is operational, the research, capacity building, and outreach activities will provide northerners with skills and expertise to better participate in the labour force, from mining and energy, to natural resources, to health and life sciences. CHARS will also develop highly qualified personnel and leadership in the north and across Canada. Once the station is complete, it is expected that approximately 50 full-time scientists and support staff will be based in Cambridge Bay.
CHARS is a strong example of this government's commitment to creating jobs, growth, and prosperity in the north and across the country.
Our government is also continuing its important work under the Arctic science and technology pillar of the northern strategy by demonstrating leadership in Arctic science.
During the northern tour visit to the Cambridge Bay site of the Canadian High Arctic research station, the Prime Minister remarked,
The North is a fundamental part of Canada’s heritage, future and identity, and we must continue to assert our sovereignty over Canada’s Arctic. This new station will undertake science and technology research that will support the responsible development of Canada’s North, inform environmental stewardship, and enhance the quality of life of Northerners and all Canadians.
The Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act, which received royal assent in December 2014, will provide for a year-round, world-class facility for science and technology in our north. It will merge the knowledge and resources of the Canadian Polar Commission with the science and technology program at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The merger will promote the development and dissemination of knowledge with respect to the polar regions as well as strengthen Canada's leadership on Arctic issues. It will also build upon and strengthen the commission's record and increase the national and international prominence of Canadian Arctic science and technology.
The creation of this new organization will support our government's respect for the Nunavut land claims agreement and our commitment to improving the quality of life of northerners.
The new organization will strengthen Canada's leadership in Arctic science, research, and innovation. While the station will be the focal point for research, the new organization that will use the station as its headquarters will also help build partnerships across the north and strengthen innovation and economic growth.
Our government is committed to Canadian sovereignty over Canada's Arctic lands and to ensuring that a strong and prosperous north helps shape the future of our nation. Every Canadian can take pride in the progress our government continues to make on issues of importance to people living in the north and to the future of our country.
There are a couple of things I would like to speak to and see if I can get a response from the parliamentary secretary.
As we know, a key pillar of this government's national strategy is the Canadian High Arctic research station. CHARS will establish a new world-class federal research organization that will be responsible for advancing Canada's knowledge of the Arctic, promoting the development and dissemination of knowledge of the circumpolar region, strengthening Canada's leadership on Arctic issues, exercising stewardship and sovereignty over Canada's northern lands and waters, and ensuring a research presence in Canada's Arctic.
CHARS will provide Canada and the world with cutting-edge Arctic science and technology to support and inform decision-making in the north while contributing to the economic prosperity of all Canadians.
I wonder if perhaps our parliamentary secretary would speak to the main objectives of our Canadian High Arctic research station?
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2015-05-13 22:09 [p.13896]
Mr. Chair, our government first announced the establishment of CHARS, a world-class year-round institution, in the 2007 Speech from the Throne. Of course, establishing CHARS as a new federal organization represents the next significant milestone in the development of our government's northern strategy initiative, and Arctic science and technology in Canada more broadly.
The CHARS will contribute to Canada's understanding of the north and will anchor a strong research presence in Canada's Arctic to serve Canada and the world. As a former science teacher, I am interested in the educational aspects of this, but I am just wondering again if the parliamentary secretary could explain to the committee what the benefits of CHARS will be.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2015-05-13 22:10 [p.13896]
Mr. Chair, not only will CHARS benefit the scientific community in Canada, and indeed internationally, it will support the local economy and generate service contracts and employment in that region.
It is estimated that the construction phase alone will generate up to 150 jobs across the north. Of the 15 construction subcontracts tendered to date, over $18 million have been awarded to Inuit-owned or Nunavut Tunnqavik Inc. registered firms, and once CHARS is operational, the research, capacity building, and outreach activities will provide northerners with skills and experience to better participate in the labour force, whether it is in mining, energy, the management of wildlife and natural resources, or health and life sciences. CHARS will also develop highly qualified personnel and leadership in the north and across Canada.
View Rob Clarke Profile
Mr. Chair, Canadians across the country expect access to clean, safe drinking water. Our government has been working since we were elected to ensure that this rigorous standard applies on reserve as well. We understand that access to a reliable source of clean, safe drinking water is fundamental to the health and well-being of any community. It is a basic part of the infrastructure that communities need to grow and prosper.
I am proud to stand in the House and share with my colleagues all of the important work that our government has accomplished on this front. As they will hear, a key priority of our government is to put in place the conditions that support long-term prosperity for all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.
Access to safe drinking water, the effective treatment of waste water, and the protection of sources of drinking water in first nations communities is critical in ensuring the health and safety of first nations. First nations should expect access to safe, clean and reliable water, and waste water services at a level comparable to those enjoyed by other Canadians living in communities of similar size and location.
Since being elected, our government has invested heavily to support first nations communities in managing their water and waste water systems. In fact, since we took power, 243 major water and waste water projects, those valued at over $1.5 million, were completed in 177 first nations across Canada.
In 2013-14 alone, 543 first nations and 74 tribal councils received funding to support 733 on-reserve drinking water systems. In addition to major improvements, our government continues to provide funding for operations and maintenance or smaller upgrades to first nations water systems.
In communities where it may not be necessary for first nations to operate their own water and waste water facilities, we provide funding for service agreements with local municipalities to provide water services. In 2013 and 2014, we funded 49 of these agreements.
Our government is delivering on its commitment to address water and waste water issues by extending the first nations water and waste water action plan with further investments of just over $323 million over 2 years, beginning in 2014-15.
These investments support the concrete actions that our government has taken to support first nations communities in improving water and waste water services.
Let me share some of our most recent investments. Just last month, we announced $3.8 million to update the Ucluelet First Nation water system. More than $9.9 million was announced in December 2014 to upgrade water systems for the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band and the Okanagan Indian Band. T
In November 2014, we announced $5 million to upgrade water infrastructures for the Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band and Upper Nicola Indian Band. We also, recently, announced $27.6 million in funding for the construction of a new water treatment plant and distribution centre for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.
These are just the most recent examples of investments that we are making. They are investments that will make a difference in the lives of those living on first nations reserves.
Along with the funding that we provide for first nations to assist in the planning, construction, upgrade and operation, and maintenance of water and waste water systems, funding is also provided to enhance the capacity and training of the on-reserve water and waste water system operators. Results in the 2011 national assessment were very clear. Trained and certified individuals operating these water and waste water systems reduce the risks and help to ensure safe drinking water in first nations communities.
That is why our government is working with first nations and their technical organizations to increase the capacity of operators. We also provide funding to first nations for the circuit rider training program, which is a specialized training program that provides first nations operators with ongoing, on-site training and mentoring on how to operate their drinking water and waste water systems.
In 2014-15, we invested over $10 million into the circuit rider training program across Canada. This is direct evidence of our government's commitment to creating the conditions for stronger, healthier, more self-sufficient first nation communities. Investments in water and waste water infrastructure also open the door to economic and job opportunities that will make a real difference in the lives of people today and generations to come.
In addition to strategic investments to improve first nations' water and waste water infrastructure, our government has worked in partnership with first nations to provide legal protections for first nations' water and waste water quality on reserve.
The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, which was passed in 2013, provides enforceable standards to govern water and waste water quality on reserve. This will ensure that residents on reserve have the same access to clean and safe drinking water that other Canadians do.
Before our government brought this act into force, standards and regulations existed for drinking water quality off reserve, but there was no such protection for hundreds of thousands of first nations who lived on reserve. Thanks to our government, first nations will soon enjoy the same quality of water as all other Canadians.
We are currently in the process of working jointly with first nations to develop specific standards and regulations. While this will take time, it will allow our government the opportunity to bring the water and waste water infrastructure and capacity to the level required for future standards.
It is important to note that this is an initiative that was supported by first nations. When the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act was introduced, Chief Lawrence Paul, Millbrook First Nation, offered ringing praise for the bill. He said:
First Nations will be able to look forward to having the same protections that other Canadians have around the provision of drinking water, water quality standards and the disposal of wastewater in their communities. This is not only an important health and safety issue, but will help build confidence in our infrastructure and help create a better climate for investment.
It is clear that our government has made working with first nation partners to improve on-reserve water and waste water services a priority. Through progress on enforceable standards, through substantial investments in water and waste water systems, and by supporting capacity building and operator training, we are delivering concrete results. I am confident and comfortable that our government will continue to make progress as long as we remain on this path.
Our government is delivering on its commitment to address water and waste water issues by extending the first nation water and waste water action plan with further investments of $323.4 million over two years, beginning in 2014-15.
In the spirit of innovation and partnerships, what other innovative solutions is the government pursuing to achieve value for money in the context of supporting first nations in managing their water and waste water infrastructure?
View Rob Clarke Profile
Mr. Chair, that reminds of a story that took place years ago, while I was stationed in northern Saskatchewan where the water treatment plant was brand new. The community had a state-of-the-art facility, but the problem it had was that the operators would routinely not be in the community, which would result in the water treatment plant shutting down. This is just one of the reasons our government has taken these actions.
Since we were elected, our government has made health for first nations a top priority. One way that we are accomplishing this is by aiming to provide every first nation with the same quality of water and waste water that all other Canadians receive.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development tell the House how much funding our government has invested to support first nations in managing their water and waste water systems since 2006?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2015-05-13 22:40 [p.13900]
Mr. Chair, I appreciate the hon. member sharing his experience, which is why our government is taking action in an unprecedented way.
From April 2006 to March 2014, the Government of Canada has invested approximately $3 billion to support first nations communities in managing their waste water and water infrastructure. The Government of Canada delivered on its commitment to address water and waste water issues by extending the first nations water and waste water action plan with further investments of $323.4 million over two years beginning in 2014-2015.
From April 2006 to March 2014, 243 major capital projects of over $1.5 million were completed in 177 first nations communities for a total investment of $1.1 billion.
View Rob Clarke Profile
Mr. Chair, in addition to providing money for water and waste water infrastructure projects, how is the government supporting first nations in managing their own water and waste water infrastructure?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2015-05-13 22:43 [p.13901]
Mr. Chair, in addition to those capital funds we talked about, each year our government provides operation and maintenance funding to ensure first nations systems continue to run safely and in optimal condition throughout their lifespan. In order to help communities build capacity to manage, operate and maintain their water and waste water facilities, the government provides funding to various partners that provide community operators with training to manage, operate and maintain their water and waste water facilities through the circuit rider training program. This program provides first nation water and waste water operators with onsite, hands-on training and mentoring for operating and maintaining their drinking water and waste water systems.
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2015-05-13 23:00 [p.13903]
Mr. Chair, our government is focused on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadian families. That is why we are proud to work with willing partners on initiatives leading to greater self-sufficiency and prosperity for first nations and communities.
Education is perhaps the most important element in achieving this goal. A good education provides the keys to open the doors to opportunity and success for individuals and communities alike.
Our government continues to ensure that first nations children living on reserve receive the same access to quality education as every other Canadian child and that they are given every opportunity to become full participants in Canadian society. That is why between 2006 and 2013 we increased education funding to first nations by more than 25%.
We have also made additional investments in education infrastructure, the schools and facilities students need to be successful. Since being elected, our government has invested more than $850 million in on-reserve education infrastructure projects. These funds have enabled first nations to complete more than 572 infrastructure projects, including 41 new schools and 531 other school projects, including major renovations to existing facilities.
Through budget 2012, we invested an additional $175 million for the construction of new schools. Moreover, just this past year the Prime Minister announced an investment of $500 million over seven years in the new education infrastructure fund. Economic action plan 2015 reasserts this commitment and would add an additional $200 million to this fund.
Investments from the education infrastructure fund will also be used to develop a training and education program for first nations to support operations and maintenance activities in schools.
Investments from these funds have already begun. In fact, just last week we announced that our government will be investing some of this money in the construction or major renovation of 11 schools in first nations communities across Canada. These projects represent the first phase of investments from the education infrastructure fund. That is in addition to announcements made this spring addressing school infrastructure needs in four northern Manitoba communities.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the issue of aboriginal education is of particular importance to me. In fact, a few months ago, I was absolutely honoured to join my friend and colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, as we made a significant announcement about the construction of the new Crowfoot School on the Siksika First Nation in my riding of Macleod.
Our government has also provided funding for education infrastructure in the Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan. Funding provided to the first nation will serve to renovate the Whitecap Elementary School and will include the addition of two new classrooms for students from kindergarten to grade four.
Our government will also be providing support for the construction of the off-reserve Stonebridge school, also in Saskatchewan, for students in grades five to eight.
With these 11 school projects—five new schools and six renovations—we are making a difference in the lives of more than 1,000 first nations students across this country from kindergarten up to grade 12. These projects will help first nations students have a first-class learning environment. This will allow them to learn the skills and lessons they need to enter the labour market. These are investments in the futures of first nations children and in the futures of their communities.
Economic action plan 2015 would build on the government's investment in the construction and renovation of schools on reserve by providing $200 million over five years, starting in 2015-16.
Construction sites create more than just new schools. They also create jobs. They also create an opportunity for young people to learn marketable skills that will help them succeed in the careers of their choosing. During the construction of these schools, wherever possible, contractors and subcontractors will seek to create jobs and training opportunities for local community members.
Mr. Chair, we are not just making investments in education infrastructure. Our government believes first nations students deserve access to the same quality education as all other Canadian students. To that end, we have contributed nearly $12 billion toward aboriginal education programs since we were elected. Certainly, this funding pays for the construction and renovation of schools, but it also covers the wages of teachers and coaches, and pays for books, computers and sports equipment. Perhaps more importantly the landmark first nations control of first nations education act represented a real and concerted effort to improve education outcomes for first nations youth on reserve. While we are disappointed the Assembly of First Nations was not prepared to accept our offer, our government remains committed to improving educational outcomes on reserve.
We remain a committed partner in first nations education reform and look forward to opportunities to work with first nations that are interested and able to pursue education reform, including through co-operative self-government agreements.
A quality post-secondary education is often the key to getting a good quality job. Our government is working to ensure first nations and Inuit students have access to an education that encourages them to stay in school, graduate and get the skills they need to succeed in the labour market. That is why our government proposes to provide $12 million over three years to Indspire. This would provide post-secondary scholarships and bursaries to first nations students. At least $1 million of this amount will be devoted to supporting students pursuing an education in the skilled trades. This is absolutely critical because skilled trades are desperately needed in Alberta and across Canada.
Since its launch, lndspire has provided scholarships to more than 2,200 first nations and Inuit students on an annual basis. It has also attracted significant support from a wide range of corporate donors, with new investments that will extend the availability of scholarships to thousands more first nations and Inuit youth. Our government, first nations communities and young adults all agree that first nations youth must have the same opportunities as all Canadians to find, keep and enjoy the benefits of a good-paying job. This is why, by making key investments in 2013, our government helped to provide personalized jobs and skills training to more than 4,000 first nations youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who were on income assistance. Participants in that program have access to a wide range of services and programs aimed at increasing their job prospects and supporting them as they move on to the workforce. These services and programs include basic life skills, literacy training, skills training and career counselling
Our government wants to ensure first nations, Inuit and Métis students graduate from high school with the skills and abilities they can put to work in their communities and the Canadian economy. This is absolutely vital to the long-term well-being of communities and Canada's continued prosperity. Our government understands that truth very clearly. Unlike the opposition parties who voted against both structural reform and additional investment, our government is actively working towards this goal.
I would like to ask my esteemed colleague, the parliamentary secretary, a few questions, if I may.
As I spoke earlier in my speech, I know that our government believes that first nations youth deserve access to the same quality education as all other Canadian students. I also know that we are providing the funding to back us up on this belief. As I mentioned earlier in my speech, the parliamentary secretary was in my riding earlier this year to announce funding for a new school to replace the Crowfoot school in the Siksika First Nation. This is absolutely critical funding to replace an education facility in a rebuilding community that was devastated by the floods in 2013.
Could the parliamentary secretary inform this committee of the whole exactly how much money our government has invested in education programming for aboriginal people?
View Hoang Mai Profile
View Hoang Mai Profile
2015-05-07 15:41 [p.13623]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-52 at third reading.
As the NDP transport critic and vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I found it interesting to study this bill.
I agree with the Liberal member who said in his question that there was not enough consultation and perhaps not enough study. Indeed, the study period was relatively short for such an important bill.
Let me be clear: the NDP will support the bill. We believe that the polluter pays principle is important. Clearly, it was only after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy that the government finally decided to do something about rail safety. Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to finally spur the government to action, a tragedy that cost 47 people their lives, cost millions of dollars in damages and ruined many other lives.
It is sad that previous Liberals governments and the current government have been ignoring rail safety, the very principle of our rail system, ever since the Liberals privatized it. The problems only started when they privatized everything. They also left all the regulations, even inspections, up to the rail companies themselves. As we often say, the system that was implemented is based on self-regulation, and all the companies do their own audits and inspections. That is very clear.
This bill does have some very important points. As I have said from the beginning, we support the polluter pays principle. Obviously, it is not up to the public to pay for damages caused by the industry.
In the case of the Lac-Mégantic accident, MMA had only $25 million in liability insurance. When I asked the minister and Transport Canada officials about the cost, I was not able to get any firm figures, since the numbers vary. Apparently, $400 million has already been spent to repair damages. However, it could cost billions of dollars in the end. That is a huge amount of money.
Unfortunately, governments must pay because MMA filed for bankruptcy. The federal and the Quebec government had to spend money to repair the damage. When I refer to damage, I am also referring to the damage caused by the Conservative government for allowing self-regulation at a time when the rail transportation of crude oil has increased exponentially.
As for the budget, we see that there are gaps, and that has been raised many times. The government says it is taking action. However, there are budget cuts.
Let us look at just the office responsible for rail safety, the people who specifically look after implementing the system and ensuring that it is safe. We see that between 2010 and 2015, there were cuts of about 20%. Those cuts affected the people who look after rail safety and ensure the safety of Canadians. That shows that the government does not have its priorities straight.
We agree that there must be minimum liability levels. Once again, we deplore the fact that this was not the case earlier and that a company like MMA, with respect to Lac-Mégantic, only had $25 million in insurance coverage.
This bill is certainly a step in the right direction. It contains various categories for many rail companies, which will have to have minimum insurance levels based on the volume of dangerous goods shipped via its rail lines.
However, I asked the parliamentary secretary a question about the calculations. We wanted to know whether the amount established was sufficient. I gave the example of class 1 railways, like CN and CP, that have minimum insurance coverage of $1 billion. We learned from the news or other studies that these companies probably already had insurance coverage in excess of $1 billion.
Ultimately, the government reduced the amount of insurance coverage companies are required to have, when the purpose of the bill is to increase it.
Unfortunately, as the parliamentary secretary mentioned, when we asked questions in committee we were told that the information belonged to the railway companies. However, the government has the power to get that information. The Conservatives are the ones who did the study regarding the insurance limit, and once again, they are not being transparent. That is shameful.
The parliamentary secretary spoke about the additional powers granted to inspectors and to the minister in cases where tracks are not safe. That makes me think about what happened in Gogama, in northern Ontario, where other derailments occurred. They happened despite the events at Lac-Mégantic and the public outcry in regard to the dangers associated with the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. I think that, like me, any Canadians who saw the pictures were shocked to find out that this type of derailment is still happening. Cars carrying crude oil are still exploding.
The parliamentary secretary told us that the government introduced new standards for the DOT-111 cars, which will eventually be replaced. However, it will be another 10 years before they are all replaced. These cars will still be on our tracks for another 10 years, even though the Transportation Safety Board described them as dangerous and unsafe. The TSB said that these cars were essentially the same as the old DOT-111 cars that exploded in Lac-Mégantic.
This concern has to be taken into consideration. I am asking the government to set a deadline and show more leadership when it comes to protecting the public.
There is also the issue of inspectors and self-inspection. The system that was put in place and that has the support of the Liberals allows companies to do their own inspections before potentially, maybe, submitting them to Transport Canada for inspection.
The Auditor General issued a scathing report on rail safety. He said that the inspectors overseeing the safety of the system did not fulfill their obligations and that all they do is look at the rail company's plans without ensuring that they effectively protect the environment and the public. That is a problem.
Another problem with inspectors has existed for a long time. Let us take the example of the derailments in Gogama, which caused explosions. According to the TSB's preliminary report, the condition of the rails was definitely a factor. When we talk about inspectors, the government responds that the companies do the inspections themselves and that it expects companies to properly inspect their rails. However, it is careless to rely on self-inspection.
Before the events in Lac-Mégantic in 2013, there were 116 rail inspectors at Transport Canada. After the events in Lac-Mégantic, there were 117. The government added just one inspector. It seems that others were hired, but they are not officially assigned to rail safety.
What is certain is that all of the workers and unions in this sector agree that there is a problem with inspection. Even the rail companies, as well as the Railway Association of Canada, report the same problem. It is clear that there is a problem.
The government, meanwhile, is addressing this problem by making budget cuts. It makes no sense.
How can the government say that it cares about the safety of Canadians and then turn around and cut the budgets of those who conduct inspections and make sure that laws are in place and that the companies are complying with them, as well as ensuring that the rail lines themselves are safe? It is shameful.
As for the polluter pays principle, I applaud the fact that the bill provides for a compensation fund. Unfortunately, as my NDP colleague mentioned in his question, this fund applies only to accidents or disasters involving crude oil.
One question was raised by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and a number of other stakeholders who appeared before the committee. Why did the government not include other dangerous goods? The Conservatives were asked that question today. They replied that they were studying the issue and they would see. Do we need to have another accident like the one in Lac-Mégantic for them to realize that something has to be done? It is important to raise this issue. This is not about demagoguery. The government did indeed act after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. The government has even said that this bill resulted from that tragedy. Why not also include a compensation fund for other dangerous materials, since that is a concern and the municipalities and first responders are asking for it?
Let us come back to firefighters. A question about training was raised by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, a question that we had also brought forward. Yes, the aim is to prevent accidents. However, prevention depends on inspection. As we know, the government is failing in that regard. What must be done to prevent an accident, or at least to respond quickly when one does occur? How can we ensure that first responders are properly trained and that they have the resources they need?
Unfortunately, this bill is silent on that issue. This is what firefighters, among others, proposed: since there is already a fund in place—once again, I am referring to the fund established from fees paid by oil companies—why not use it to pay for training to ensure that first responders, firefighters and those who respond to emergencies receive the training they need?
This problem has been flagged and it is a serious problem, especially because we are shipping more and more dangerous goods by rail. Furthermore, based on the Lac-Mégantic accident and what is happening in the United States, for example, we can say goods are increasingly dangerous and there is less and less information about these goods. That was clearly the case in Lac-Mégantic. The dangerous nature of the goods being moved was underestimated.
Legislators or those who implement the regulations are not well informed. What about the people who respond to emergencies? What we are asking for is simple. We are asking for a fund to cover training for first responders such as firefighters and paramedics. How do we intervene in this situation? The Lac-Mégantic accident opened our eyes.
The bill could have covered this, but unfortunately it does not. There is still work to be done. As I said, the NDP will support the bill and hopes that it will pass quickly. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.
In committee, an amendment did not pass. It dealt with fatigue, or what is known as fatigue management.
The bill actually repeals a clause, repeals the definition of fatigue management, and we do not understand why. Just to be clear, what the definition basically said is that we have to base fatigue management on science, and what we are doing here is actually repealing that definition.
I asked the minister and officials, and the answer was not satisfactory. I think we want to make sure that we have a base, and our base was the definition of fatigue management, fatigue science. It was scientifically based, but unfortunately, that was deleted.
We will have to take a close look at the regulations. Unfortunately, from our perspective, the approach was going in the wrong direction.
We did not anticipate one of the other consequences that witnesses told us about in committee, namely the fact that some companies do not do the same kind of transportation for dangerous goods. Some companies transfer oil and other goods in certain places. These companies, therefore, do not transport goods the same way and do not have the same problems. This concern was raised, and I asked questions about it. I was told that these cases can be addressed through regulations. I asked the question clearly and openly, and now we will have to follow up. We have to figure out how to treat companies that do not pose the same risk but that transport goods that are, by definition, dangerous. We have heard that the costs can be quite high for these small companies. We are talking about smaller companies that might not have the means to pay for this insurance. As legislators, we need to trust Transport Canada and its officials to take that into consideration. We will keep a close eye on this issue.
There is something else we are disappointed in. It was already mentioned, and that is the fact that the environment has been put on the back burner. Certain priorities have been set out in the bill. We agree that municipalities or individuals who are victims of accidents should be compensated and helped at any cost. There is no doubt that they must compensated. However, the wording of the bill puts long-term environmental impacts in the back seat. The request cannot necessarily come from an individual who says he can no longer use a certain natural resource for the long term, a river for example, and that his rights have been violated in the long term. According to the current wording of the bill, only the government can go after the railways and say that they caused damage that undermines the long-term use of the environment. However, we know that in fact the government does not do that. It will not go after a company for damages. We are a bit surprised to see that this aspect does not have the same priority in the bill. We would have preferred it to be considered on an equal footing.
I would like to come back to the question that we asked ourselves: why did the government not go further in terms of coverage for dangerous materials? The reason I am mentioning this again is that the committee was almost unanimous in this regard. Firefighters, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the oil industry all asked us why the bill only went after oil companies or crude oil and why it did not provide for a fund that would cover other dangerous goods, since we know that other dangerous materials are being transported on our tracks. I asked the government that question. I was told that the matter was being looked into. I would have liked a more concrete answer.
However, we did obtain a more concrete answer in regard to what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport said about the cars. He said that there will be new standards for the cars. However, the United States announced that a braking system will be implemented and gave us a timeline.
The government established a deadline of 10 years for oil cars, but as we said, we would like that deadline to be shorter. The United States said that the braking system for cars was a safer system. Unfortunately, the government did not give a deadline in that regard in its announcement.
The government told us that it was looking into the issue, but it has not even set a deadline yet.
We need to learn from our mistakes. Twenty years ago, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said that the DOT-111 cars were dangerous. The Liberal government did not do anything about it. The federal government did not do anything either and the Lac-Mégantic tragedy occurred. We need to think about that. The government needs to act quickly, show some leadership and protect the public.
View Laurin Liu Profile
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-04-24 11:31 [p.12990]
Mr. Speaker, with soaring rates of youth unemployment many young Canadians are being pressured into taking unpaid internships in hopes of one day landing a job. Under the Conservatives' watch, thousands of interns have been left without basic workplace protection. After finally committing in the budget to take action to protect interns, Conservatives then voted against my private member's bill, the intern protection act.
Why are handouts to the wealthy few put on the fast track while rights for vulnerable workers are put on the backburner?
View K. Kellie Leitch Profile
View K. Kellie Leitch Profile
2015-04-24 11:32 [p.12990]
Mr. Speaker, I ask the member opposite if she is supporting the budget, because we are supporting interns. Economic action plan 2015 specifically outlines for interns in federal jurisdiction, regardless of the pay they receive, occupational health and safety benefits. Please, just read the text. We are very focused on making sure that people are safe and productive in the workplace.
In addition to that, we are also focused on making sure Canadians have jobs which New Democrats are also against. We are for lowering taxes. They are for heightening them on middle-class Canadians. The facts are that we are doing things to make sure workplaces are safe, productive, and individuals are making funds. The NDP totally opposed all those things.
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