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View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
moved that Bill S-222, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am happy and proud to rise in the House this morning to begin debate on a bill from the other place, Bill S-222. This is a small but mighty bill that would create beautiful, safe federal buildings, support our forestry sector during difficult times, spur innovation in the cement and steel industries and help us reach our climate targets.
What would this bill do? It simply states that when building federal infrastructure, the Minister of Public Works “shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.”
I mentioned the bill came from the Senate, but, in fact, this bill started its life in the House of Commons, first as a Bloc bill more than a decade ago. I took up the bill in the 42nd Parliament where, as Bill C-354, it passed in the House of Commons, but died in the Senate when that Parliament ended.
I would like to take a moment to thank my friend, Senator Diane Griffin. Senator Griffin guided the bill through the Senate in 2018 and 2019 and when the bill stalled there, through no fault of her own, she reintroduced the bill in the 43rd Parliament. As many here remember, that Parliament ended prematurely due to an election, so Senator Griffin introduced it once again last year in this Parliament. It is through her persistence that we are seeing it again.
Senator Griffin retired last spring, so she passed the torch to Senator Jim Quinn, who saw it through its passage in the Senate earlier this fall.
The initial form of the bill over a decade ago was a direct ask of the minister to consider wood in the construction of federal infrastructure. It was modelled on the Charte du bois in Quebec and the wood-first bill in British Columbia. It was designed then to ensure that the federal government actually considered wood when building large infrastructure. Until recently, the construction industry had been totally geared to cement and steel when doing that.
My version of the bill was amended in committee to remove the overt preference for wood and replace that with preference for materials that had environmental benefits, in particular regarding the greenhouse gas footprints of the building materials. This amendment allayed a couple of concerns around the trade implications of potentially favouring one sector over another and also recognized the emerging work on making concrete and steel more environmentally friendly. I will speak more on that later.
I was initially inspired to take up this bill in 2016 because of a company in my riding, in my home town of Penticton. That company is Structurlam, and it has been at the leading edge of mass timber engineered wood construction in North America.
While Structurlam leads that sector, it still faces some of the hurdles that confront all innovative companies. It needs help to scale-up its production, and the easiest way for a government to help a company in that situation is to provide business through government procurement. That is one of the core benefits of this bill. It would help Canadian companies scale-up to maintain our dominant position in the engineered wood sector in North America.
Forest products, with their sequestered carbon, are obvious candidates for decisions under this policy. If we can use more wood in government infrastructure and grow the mass timber market in Canada, it will obviously benefit the forest sector overall.
These are benefits to a forest industry beset by challenges on all sides. Beetle infestations, catastrophic wildfires and a long history of harvests have all reduced access to fibre. To top it off, the softwood lumber dispute has brought illegal tariffs from our biggest trading partner, the United States.
Reduced fibre access means we have to get more jobs and more money for every log we cut, and that is what mass timber provides.
To make glulam beams or cross-laminated timber panels, mass timber plants use lumber sourced from local mills. That gives those mills a new domestic market for their products and it reduces their reliance on the United States. On top of that, we can sell those mass timber products to the United States tariff-free, so it is a win-win.
Just to reiterate, the bill and a rejuvenated domestic market for lumber would not mean increased forest harvest, as that is limited by other factors, but it will mean getting more value added out of the trees we do cut. There are benefits to using mass timber, benefits for the construction industry and benefits for the users of that infrastructure.
First, I will mention the construction process itself. Engineered wood is produced indoors in plant facilities. The building can be literally constructed indoors with no weather delays or complications, while the site is being prepared for construction. Then the building components can be put together quickly and delivered to the site exactly when needed.
Brock Commons, an 18-storey residence complex at the University of British Columbia, the tallest wood building in the world, was built in 57 days, two storeys per week. It is now home to over 400 UBC students. Because the component parts are built indoors, they can be constructed to very fine tolerances, within millimetres, and that means a lot when one is constructing the buildings of the future that will have to be built to passive energy specifications.
The buildings constructed in this way are beautiful. The exposed wood components are like furniture. Structurlam has an entire finishing plant devoted to smoothing and treating every exposed beam and wall panel as if it were a piece of massive furniture.
It is not surprising many of the early examples of mass timber construction were civic buildings meant to look good as well as be functional, buildings such as the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Olympic speed skating oval in Richmond, B.C. and the Rocky Ridge recreation centre in Calgary. The Rocky Ridge facility has over 2,000 glulam beams forming its huge roof, and no two are the same.
I would like to also mention that Canada leads the way in engineered wood construction in North America. Structurlam has projects all across the continent and has recently opened up a branch plant in Arkansas. Nordic Structures in Chibougamau, Quebec was another pioneer of this technology.
Another major mass timber plant has recently opened in my riding just outside Castlegar. It was opened up by Kalesnikoff Lumber. I would like to give a shout-out to Ken Kalesnikoff and his son Chris and daughter Krystle for making this major investment that will pay off for the future of the West Kootenay and the forest sector in British Columbia.
One issue that often comes up when talking about tall wood buildings is fire safety. I hear from firefighters who just simply do not like the concept of wood buildings of any size. We heard testimony of that nature in both House of Commons and Senate committees. However, I need to reiterate that large infrastructure projects under this legislation would be constructed with mass timber. Firefighters I talked to are concerned about buildings constructed with traditional wood frame construction such as two-by-fours and two-by-sixes.
Mass timber is another thing entirely. When we have glulam beams a metre thick or cross laminated timber panels nine inches thick, those materials react to open flame in a completely different way. They simply slowly char instead of bursting into flame. Think of trying to light a log on fire with a match.
The National Research Council has conducted fire safety trials with mass timber and has found it is just as safe, or safer, than traditional concrete or steel construction.
More detailed studies are under way, including those at the University of British Columbia with Felix Wiesner. Dr. Wiesner has found, perhaps not surprisingly, that thicker components, say panels made with five layers of lumber versus those made with three layers, burn more slowly and that the type of adhesive that binds those layers also has an impact.
Suffice it to say, large buildings made with mass timber provide both occupants and firefighters ample time to exit the building in case of a fire and, as I said earlier, are just as safe or safer than traditionally designed buildings.
I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the other materials that might compete successfully in the government's analysis of environmental benefit. We have been hearing a lot about green steel production, and there are new cement products that sequester carbon dioxide to reduce some of that material's carbon footprint.
When I first put forward this bill, I heard concerns from the cement industry that the direct mention of wood might be unfair to the cement sector, which has made impressive advances in sustainability over the past few years. Those concerns were largely met by the amendments that were made in the committee in the 42nd Parliament and carried through to this version of the bill. I just talked to the cement industry last week, and it is supportive. It pointed out it is working with the federal government to provide data for life-cycle analysis of greenhouse gas footprints of building materials.
These analyses will be critical to the use of the legislation before us, as it will provide decision-makers with all the details they need. We will need similar full life-cycle data for steel and wood products, of course.
In recent conversations I have had with members of all parties around Bill S-222, I am heartened by the support I am hearing. Members of all parties know that this is the right way forward; that this bill will set us in the right direction when it comes to meeting our climate targets; that this bill will support the forest industry, a sector that has been beset with challenges from all sides in recent years; and that this bill will not discriminate against other building material sectors, such as cement and steel, that are working hard to innovate new solutions to make their products truly sustainable.
I hope that every member here will support Bill S-222 at second reading. I look forward to discussing it at committee to ensure that it will truly have the beneficial impacts that it promises. With this legislation in place, we can literally build a better Canada.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I liked what my colleague had to say.
To begin, I want to say that I worked in the forestry sector and forestry industry for a decade. It is 2022 and, even back in the early 2000s, I was telling insurers in Laurentides—Labelle about the positives of carbon capture, its use and benefits in terms of fire reduction. Given that is is now 2022, it was high time this bill was introduced.
I see this as just the tip of the iceberg. My colleague who spoke before me mentioned that, in Quebec, this is already happening. The province is already in the process of adapting training programs to provide access to this basic information.
My question is this: Does my colleague agree that we can fight for the forestry industry to have its fair share once this bill is passed?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is correct. We need to move forward.
She mentioned education. A lot of what the bill will promote will need the education of architects, engineers and construction workers across Canada to change their mindset about the construction of large buildings.
There is a wonderful program in Okanagan College, in my home town of Penticton, that is on sustainable building methods. We need that kind of program across the country so that not just governments but people building large facilities will think about wood when they make those decisions.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2022-11-28 11:14 [p.10049]
Madam Speaker, I really do appreciate the member's insights as to the materials we are using when it comes to building. I know that constituents in the riding of Waterloo are really concerned about the way we are building, what we are building with and with the environment.
I would like to hear from the member on the benefits for the forestry sector. What are the added benefits of using wood when constructing or maintaining rural properties? I also appreciate the fact that he has consulted with firefighters and those who would recognize some of the challenges that come with that. I appreciate his efforts on this.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I mentioned some of the benefits. The main benefit for the forest sector would be increasing the domestic demand for wood products. Mass timber does exactly that. Mills all across the country are making two-by-fours and two-by-sixes. Mass timber plants use those pieces of lumber to make their own products. That would really boost the domestic demand for wood. We will get that value added. We will have plants creating jobs and value all across the country. That will benefit the forest industry and, at the same time, create beautiful buildings.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2022-11-28 11:16 [p.10049]
Madam Speaker, I note that this bill is an improvement on some of the earlier iterations that have come around and that it is not quite as prescriptive as others we have seen in the past.
I wonder if the member could comment on PSPC, as this bill creates a new piece for PSPC to consider. PSPC has been a broken department. It is broken under the government. I will say, though, that successive governments have allowed PSPC to become the disaster it is today.
Can he comment on any concerns about giving PSPC one more thing to bungle in its process of procuring buildings?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I have met with PSPC. There might have been concerns if this had been presented to it and it was completely unprepared. It is not. It has been preparing for this for the last few years. It has processes in place, like life-cycle analyses that are under way now with cement and steel, and will be under way later with wood products.
I am confident that this bill will not add to any other problems PSPC might or might not have. We are headed in the right direction.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-28 11:17 [p.10049]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my friend from South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his sponsorship of the bill, for his advocacy and for his hard work on this. I really appreciate it. I think he has done a yeoman's job on this file, including through his meetings with firefighters and others. I thank him. I think this is a very good bill, and I am pleased to speak about how we can make our government operations greener through smart investments in public infrastructure.
The efforts of this government to be more sustainable in how it operates, what it buys and what it builds are more important than ever right now. After a summer of unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, floods and storm surges around the world and right here at home, it is well past time to seriously accelerate our action against greenhouse gas emissions.
This past March, the government introduced its 2030 emissions reduction plan. This plan is our path to meeting our target under the Paris Agreement to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan maps out how we will reduce our emissions from 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, with clear milestones. It is consistent with the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
In Canada, we must lead the way. Indeed, as the Prime Minister has said, “climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us.” He has mandated his ministers to seek opportunities within their portfolio to “support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.”
As we work toward solutions to ease and mitigate the environmental damage, we are positioning ourselves to bring about real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Bill S‑222 will encourage the government to use wood, a sustainable, renewable material, in the construction and renovation of federal buildings and infrastructure projects.
One department is particularly well positioned to help the government achieve its greening government strategy objectives. That department is Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC. As the government's primary procurement body and manager of its real property, the department can prioritize purchasing and using materials that reduce our carbon footprint.
Today I would like to talk to you about how PSPC can play a unique and important role in reducing our GHG emissions and how wood products are essential to achieving that.
I would like to start with a brief explanation of what PSPC does. First, the department is the government's central purchasing agency, responsible for about 24 billion dollars' worth of procurement activity annually on behalf of most government departments and agencies. Second, PSPC is also the property manager for a vast portfolio of buildings it owns or rents across the country. In addition to office buildings, that portfolio includes heritage properties, such as the parliamentary precinct, and numerous bridges, wharves and dams across the country.
These two sectors offer a significant opportunity to achieve greener outcomes, and advance the goals of sustainable development and a carbon neutral portfolio for Canada.
By prioritizing green procurement, PSPC can help protect the environment in several different ways. Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations, green procurement will also have the same effect on our supply chains. Moreover, it cuts down on the use of hazardous and toxic substances, pollution and plastic waste. It also supports the Canadian economy by creating new markets for innovative products and services. In this context, green procurement includes assessing the life cycles of goods that are purchased, and adopting clean technologies and green products and services.
The government’s policy on green procurement also stipulates the criteria for sustainable goods and services to guide procurement operations. These criteria require potential suppliers to demonstrate that their products can reduce emissions, are sustainable or have other environmental benefits.
Given that it purchases nearly $24 billion on behalf of the majority of departments and agencies, PSPC has substantial leverage to create markets for sustainable goods. This can act like a virtuous circle and inspire other manufacturers and businesses to up their game and offer greener alternatives to the greater consumer market, which will benefit all of us.
The greening government strategy also commits the government to maintaining a plan to reach net zero for its real property portfolio by 2050. That plan also has to show that its buildings and infrastructure are resilient to climate change and cost-effective. For example, PSPC is transforming the iconic Centre Block from one of the highest-emitting PSPC assets to a near net-zero carbon facility. It is also using low-carbon construction materials where possible in the new Parliament Welcome Centre. In addition, during the rehabilitation of West Block—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The hon. member for Jonquière on a point of order.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2022-11-28 11:22 [p.10050]
Madam Speaker, there is a problem with the interpretation.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
We will check on that.
The problem has been fixed.
The hon. parliamentary secretary may continue his speech.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-28 11:23 [p.10050]
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
In addition, during the rehabilitation of West Block and the Senate of Canada building, more than 90% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, and a number of environmentally innovative measures were incorporated to save energy and reduce water use. We are also committing that starting in 2030, 75% of new lease and lease renewal floor space will be in net-zero climate-resilient buildings.
To ensure we move forward with reducing the carbon footprint of governmental operations, all departments are subject to various legal instruments. Indeed, the greening government strategy flows from the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
With Bill S-222, we have an opportunity to encourage the use of wood by PSPC and, by extension, the whole of government to meet our climate change objectives. Indeed, wood represents a green approach to building and renovation. It is a renewable resource that is widely available across most of this country. The forest sector is a key source of economic prosperity for people and communities across the country, including many rural, remote and indigenous communities.
The benefits of wood in construction have been evident for hundreds of years. Many of the wood buildings that were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century are still standing and being used today. Moreover, newer wood waste products, such as mass timber, are less carbon-intensive than other materials and could be used more extensively in Canadian construction to remove the carbon emissions equivalent of taking 125,000 internal combustion engine cars off the road every year.
Promoting the use of wood in the construction of federal buildings would be meaningless if this country's forests were poorly managed. As it happens, Canada's forest laws are among the strictest in the world. They protect our forests and ensure that sustainable forest management practices are applied across the country.
This should reassure consumers and all Canadians that Canadian wood and forest products have been harvested under a robust system of sustainable forest management.
To conclude, I would like to go back to the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development and draw attention to goal 9 of that agenda, which states that signatory countries are to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” This agenda commits Canada to “upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable” by 2030 and to increase “resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes”.
Time is of the essence. CO27 has just called on the world to take urgent action. Canada will need to accelerate its climate action, and Bill S-222 can enhance the role that greener government operations are already playing to meet our obligations to this country and around the world.
I want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his work on this file.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2022-11-28 11:26 [p.10051]
Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to speak to Bill S-222. I want to recognize the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing this bill.
Back in 1951, when my grandfather was 21 years old, he came across the ocean from the Netherlands with $200 in his pockets, which was a lot of money back then. He bought a chainsaw and proceeded to make a fortune cutting down trees in northern British Columbia. That was a lifelong passion of his. He was very much an admirer of Canadian forests and Canadian trees.
Having bought a chainsaw, that was his means to earn a living here in Canada, and it was a good living. He noted that by 1956, he bought a brand new Chevrolet pickup for $1,600, and that in one particular month he made $2,200. He made more money in one month than it cost to buy a brand new pickup. In today's dollars, that is probably $40,000 or $50,000 in one month, which is incredible.
The forestry industry across Canada is one of the reasons Canada exists. There were many interests coming across the ocean early on, starting in about year 1,000. There was the fishing industry that came across the ocean, with people fishing off the Grand Banks, but also the lumber industry. When folks came from Europe to Canada for the first time, they noted the large trees, and for shipbuilding they used the trees here. One of the reasons that people came to Canada was to develop our forest industry and use the giant trees we have here to build things. That is definitely part of our heritage and part of the reason that Canada exists, and it is good to recognize that.
If members are ever in Calgary, they should check out the ATCO Commercial Centre. It is a big new building in the middle of Calgary. I had the opportunity to speak at an anti-human trafficking event that was hosted there just a couple of weeks ago, and I was impressed and blown away by the grandeur of the building and all of the beam work inside of it. I bet the ceiling is nearly 100 feet tall. It is as tall as the ceiling in here or maybe taller, and whereas here we see the beams are made out of steels, there they are made out of wood. It is an impressive structure and is really neat to see, and it is something we can enjoy as a Canadian society.
I will get back to my grandfather coming across the ocean to become a logger in northern British Columbia. While this bill is very much supportive of the forestry industry and the lumber industry, the challenge we have today is that many people are fighting against the harvesting of our forests. Most of those in the forestry industry whom I deal with in my area have a 100-year plan on how they are going to harvest the trees. They harvest some trees in one area, move to another area and harvest some trees and then move to another area. Within 100 years, they anticipate harvesting about 70% of all trees on the landscape, but by the time they are done that, they can go back to where they started and start harvesting the trees all over again. In the area where I live, the average tree is probably 40 or 50 years old before the wind blows it over, it dies or a forest fire comes along and takes care of it, so a 100-year plan on harvesting the forest is a good idea.
There is a huge amount of value that lives in the forest, but there is an increasing number of voices in this country of people who want to shut down the forestry industry and want to shut down logging. For full disclosure, I have many family members who work in the forestry industry. My brother works in the forestry industry building roads and working on a processor. My brother-in-law is a heavy-duty mechanic who works on forestry equipment, so it is a big part of my family's life. Increasingly, they are frustrated with the inability of the government to get organized around managing and developing the industry.
This is a good bill, in that it recognizes the potential and the benefits of the forestry industry. Particularly, I would note that in British Columbia there is more and more difficulty in getting access to the wood fibre. In Alberta, it is not a great deal better. The rest of the country I am not as familiar with, so I cannot say. However, it is an increasing challenge all the time to get access to the wood fibre. While Bill S-222 would indicate we should be using wood to build buildings, if we are unable to harvest the trees in the forest in order to make the lumber, this bill would not necessarily go places.
We have to ensure that this is a country that can build things again, that can develop its natural resources and that lives up to the heritage it was given by the first peoples who developed our forestry industry. Wood has been used to build dwellings and buildings forever. There are wood structures around the world that are over 1,000 years old. It is a good building product, but we need to ensure that we can develop this resource across the country.
I would note that there are voices across this country that are working very hard to minimize and to stop the development of our forestry industry. Particularly, British Columbia is where I note this to be a challenge, and I hope we can see governments coming around to promoting this. I would note that the New Democrats have been a government in power in British Columbia for a long time, and were historically very much champions of development of the forestry industry. However, today it seems to be a challenge to develop the forestry industry.
We are seeing a reduction in allowable cuts. We are seeing a reduction in the land that is available for managing it. It is ironic, to some degree, that most of British Columbia is covered by forests. It is one of the areas where forestry is probably the most valuable resource they have. The northern half of Alberta is covered with forests, and forestry is a big deal up there as well, but I note that it is definitely something we have to be concerned about.
Interestingly, we have had a few discussions with folks around fire concerns and wood buildings. It is an interesting discussion to have regarding fire ratings. Let us think about it a little and get back to that ATCO building in Calgary. The same building could be built with steel girders.
Typically, steel girders are an I-beam configuration. What is really fascinating about a steel girder in an I-beam configuration versus a wooden glulam beam, which is made from multiple laminated pieces of wood, is that the wood actually has a much better fire rating.
This is interesting, because we think that fire would consume the wood. The wood is consumed in a fire, but it actually maintains its structural integrity for a very long time, even if it is burning. However, a steel beam, because of the two layers, will actually twist and buckle if one side of it is heated. We had a bridge in Edmonton that buckled just because of the heat of the sunshine, so it is interesting to think about some of these things.
I am looking forward to supporting this bill. I hope this country can get back to developing our natural resources and harvesting the trees.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2022-11-28 11:36 [p.10052]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill S­222.
If we want to trace the origins of the discussions that led to an act that would benefit forest products, we need to go back to the proposals of the Bloc Québécois. As early as March 2010, Bill C‑429, which dealt with something very similar and was sponsored by the member for Manicouagan at the time, was being studied. The same thing happened a few years later, in 2014. The member for my former riding, Jonquière-Alma, which is now called Jonquière, had also tabled a similar bill. What we realized then was that the House's interest in supporting the forestry sector was not very high.
I would remind the House that, at the time, in 2010, the NDP voted in favour of the bill. However, in 2014, they changed their stance a bit. Half of their caucus was against the bill because it might be detrimental to the steel beam industry. I say that because I feel that there has never been the appropriate balance of power to bring the interests of the forestry industry to the House. It is no coincidence that the province where the forestry industry is largest is Quebec. Unfortunately, here, the Conservatives, among others, have never voted in favour of such measures.
Bill S‑222 certainly has potential, but there is no denying that it will need to be amended if it is referred to committee. The major difference in Bill S‑222 is that it is devoid of any means of enforcement. The bill feels like wishful thinking: It simply hopes that more wood will be used. However, if we are to achieve this, there must be some means of enforcement. This is the case with the Quebec law.
In Quebec, the wood charter assumes that, for all buildings under six storeys, a wood solution must be considered. It is mandatory. Perhaps it is something that can be corrected in the bill. We may be able to do that work in committee, but it would be essential. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, but I believe that it should go a little further and make consideration of wood for federal government infrastructure mandatory.
I will take this opportunity to address another aspect. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I find that the forestry sector tends to be overlooked when it comes to federal government support. I would like to demonstrate that. As I have repeated around 3,000 times in the House, Canada has an economy that is based on two major industries: the oil and gas sector and the automobile sector. Support for the forestry sector has consistently been anemic.
I will share some figures from a study that I commissioned along with every other member of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois is a caucus that is focused on the issue of softwood lumber. I will share the figures from the nine key federal programs that help the forestry sector.
From 2017 to 2020, we can say that roughly $317 million was redirected to the forestry sector. Keep in mind that 75% of the money that was distributed throughout Canada was in the form of guaranteed loans and 25% of that money was in the form of real subsidies. Earlier, the comparison was made with the oil and gas sector, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.
Quebec represents 22.5% of the federation, but the volume of Quebec's forestry sector represents a bit more than 30% of the sector Canada-wide. Canada pays Quebec $71 million a year. If we apply that same calculation, that means that 75% of that amount is in the form of loans. Quebec is therefore paid $53.5 million a year in the form of loans and $17 billion is paid in the form of subsidies. My region of Quebec, Saguenay‑Lac‑Saint‑Jean, provides more to the federal government than the entirety of the subsidies that are offered to Quebec's forestry sector. The $71 million paid by the federal government to the forestry industry does not even represent 0.3% of the sector's $20 billion in annual sales.
I checked and found that the federal government provides the least amount of support to these sectors. I see the disparity when I examine the fossil fuel sector. I say that because, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is doing a comparative study of all the different natural resources sectors.
If I look at the fossil fuel sector, the cost of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone is $21 billion. Then, there are the $18 billion a year over 2020-22. Canada Economic Development, or CED, will be providing $5.4 billion, which will be redirected only to the oil and gas sector. That does not include $2.5 billion in the last budget for carbon capture strategies. As I am not meanspirited, I am not going to talk about everything to do with the cleanup of orphan wells and lines of credit that we have seen since 2019. I just want to say that it is appalling.
There really is a double standard. I do not see why this legislation would not pass. It would not cost the federal government very much to consider promoting the use of lumber in its contracts. It is simply a regulatory measure that does not necessarily involve funding.
We know that the federal government is allergic to supporting the forestry industry. If a small sawmill asks for help from CED, it will not get it. Instead, the sawmill will be immediately referred to Global Affairs Canada. No small sawmill in Quebec or Canada can get support from the economic arm of the federal government alone for fear of violating American softwood lumber laws. That is a big problem. It means that companies that do not even do business with the United States are not entitled to support from CED.
I want to quickly come back to what the Bloc Québécois has been doing to support the forestry industry. In September 2020, we presented a green recovery plan to get out of the COVID‑19 pandemic. One of the main focuses of this recovery plan is the development of natural resources, including the forestry sector.
In October 2020, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources was studying the renewal of the forestry sector. There were some very interesting proposals, one being that the federal government start using the concept of carbon footprint in its tenders.
Perhaps this could be worked into Bill S‑222. It goes much further than just using wood in construction. If we go with the idea of a carbon footprint, then all derivatives from the bioeconomy—that is, products derived from the forest biomass—would qualify. Think of packaging products, for one. We can replace single-use plastics right now. It would provide a much broader scope for supporting the forestry sector, and we could reduce our carbon footprint.
Unfortunately, even though these recommendations were made in a committee study, the government never acted on them. In fact, last week we had people from the forestry sector come before us. They came to tell us that the time for committee studies has passed, and we must now take action. We are still waiting for that action.
In April 2021, the Bloc Québécois hosted a forum on forests and climate change. Participants included experts from academia and the forestry sector, producers and people involved in research and development. At the end of the forum, participants reached a unanimous conclusion. From an economic perspective, our best weapon in the battle against climate change is the forestry sector. Forests are carbon sinks. The more carbon we sequester by building with wood, the better our GHG performance.
I recently toured Chantiers Chibougamau with my party leader. I would actually encourage all members to go see what is happening at Chantiers Chibougamau. They are superstars. They use pulpwood, the little bits from treetops, to make glued-laminated I-joists of astounding size.
I see my time is up. I will be happy to vote in favour of this bill, but it needs improvement. I hope that, going forward, the government will pay closer attention when it comes to the forestry sector.
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
NDP (BC)
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
2022-11-28 11:47 [p.10054]
Madam Speaker, like a lot of my colleagues in this place, I spend a lot of time in airports. Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to spend a few minutes in my home airport, the Smithers Regional Airport. I was sitting in the departure lounge watching the sun set behind Hudson Bay Mountain and looking around the room, marvelling at what a beautiful space the community has created there. I know there are not many airports one could describe as beautiful, but it is certainly one of them.
It has personal significance for me because, during my time in local government as the mayor of Smithers, we undertook a major renovation of the Smithers Regional Airport. It was a building dating back to the 1950s and was in much need of renovation and renewal. Part of that was a brand new departure lounge. In undertaking this major project, with help from the provincial and federal governments, we had a number of objectives. We obviously wanted to make it a functional, modern space, but we also wanted to use it as an opportunity to tackle our community's greenhouse gas emissions and take responsibility for our role in this huge challenge we face.
We did that in a number of ways. We installed a geoexchange system for heating and cooling the building, which takes energy out of the ground and does so mostly without the use of fossil fuels. The other area where we really tried to drive sustainability was the use of wood.
I know there has been a lot of discussion about some of the more technical aspects, but what I was struck by yesterday, sitting in this room looking at the beautiful glulam beams and expanses of cross-laminated timber, is just the beauty of wood as a building product. In addition to all its other benefits, it is truly a spectacular product to be building with. This is important not only because the forest industry is a big part of our economy and always has been in British Columbia, but also, in the context of this bill, because wood is a lower-carbon building material than many other options.
I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill S-222. I believe this bill originally was intended to promote the use of wood in the construction of public infrastructure in Canada. I want to take a moment to recognize Senator Griffin, the bill's sponsor in the other place, but mostly my colleague, the brilliant MP for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, who has been a tireless champion for the role wood can play in addressing climate change.
This bill calls for amending the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by adding the following wording to the clause laying out the minister’s powers and responsibilities:
In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance and repair of public works, federal real property and federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieves such benefits.
I understand that was amended to recognize some of the improvements in the steel industry and in the manufacturing of concrete, etc.
I hope colleagues will forgive me if my comments about this bill speak directly to the benefits of wood as a building product. This is a topic that has personal significance for me. My father worked for over 30 years in the forest industry. He was a buckerman, which, for folks who are less familiar with forestry, is the person who works in the bush and cuts the logs to length before they are loaded onto the trucks headed for the mill.
I remember how frustrated my dad was by some of the waste that occurred in the forest industry at the time. There were trees and logs that were too big to be used by the sawmills and were left in the bush and eventually burned. I remember his chainsaw mill, a little portable mill that attached to his chainsaw. He would take it out on the weekends and mill these logs into slabs, bring them home and build beautiful things from them. He was also the person who instilled in me a love for forests and a recognition of the need to do forestry responsibly and sustainably, an area I believe we continue to make progress in today. Of course, he built many beautiful things out of wood.
As I speak to this bill today, I am thinking of my dad and those values he instilled in me.
Bill S-222 speaks to public procurement as an opportunity for addressing greenhouse gas emissions through the choice of building materials, and this is indeed a huge opportunity. Much of the debate around tackling climate change has focused on emissions from the operation of buildings and transportation and such. However, the embodied carbon in building materials represents a significant challenge and opportunity when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. Given the billions of dollars spent on public procurement every year, and my colleague across the way mentioned the figure of, I believe, $27 billion per year, this represents a significant opportunity for Canada.
When we dig into the role of embodied carbon in Canada's overall emissions, it is a surprisingly complex picture. At a high level, the advantage of wood rests on the fact that trees grow back and that the carbon stored in wood is stored for as long as the buildings it is used in are still standing. One source I found cited softwood timber as having an embodied carbon footprint of 110 kilograms per cubic metre, compared to 635 kilograms per cubic metre for reinforced concrete.
Admittedly, when we look for figures on the carbon footprint of building materials, we will find a huge range. Therein lies some of the complexity in evaluating different building materials and their climate impacts. However, the benefits of wood as a renewable resource are quite obvious.
Much of the life cycle climate carbon implications hinge on our management of forests. It is a popular idea to think of Canada's forests as climate-fighting machines that suck carbon out of the atmosphere, but the actual numbers, I think, would surprise people. A couple of years ago it came out that Canada's forests, since 2001, have actually been sources of carbon emissions and have emitted more carbon than they have sucked out of the air. This points to the need to consider the big picture when it comes to the climate implications of forest products.
Jim Pojar, a renowned ecologist based in Smithers, has expressed some caution regarding the notion that forestry is carbon neutral. He writes:
It should be emphasized that the underlying carbon budget calculations are complex and depend on assumptions about a future with much uncertainty around carbon dynamics in a rapidly changing environment.
The approach he advocates is one he calls “smart harvest and...substitution”, which couples forest management improvements with the substitution of wood in the place of more carbon-intensive building materials. Despite the complexity in evaluating the carbon emissions from different building materials, there does seem to be broad agreement that using wood products in buildings is an important tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
I mentioned the beauty of wood, which admittedly is a subjective benefit. Less subjective is the economic impact of manufacturing wood products in regions like the one I live in. So many people I speak with are alarmed by the volume of raw logs we continue to export. They understand intuitively that the more we can add value to our raw resources, the more we can manufacture things, the more people in our communities are going to have jobs and the more benefits we can accrue.
In our region, there are thousands of people employed in forestry: loggers, truck drivers, mill workers, tree planters, foresters and so many more. As we grapple with mid-term timber supply constraints and managing a landscape for multiple values, it becomes ever more important to maximize the number of jobs and the economic benefits from every cubic metre of timber harvested. If we can use public procurement to increase demand for manufactured Canadian wood products, we can spur investment in new manufacturing facilities, new technology and new applications for wood.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, which is home to UNBC's master of engineering in integrated wood design program. It is one example of how, in British Columbia, we are seeking to do more with wood, to innovate and to create models that can be applied around the world.
I am thankful for the time today to talk about this important topic and I hope this bill passes into law very soon.
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