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Results: 1 - 15 of 493
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, colleagues, for this opportunity. It's great to be here again, especially on the heels of our government's balanced budget, economic action plan 2015.
The balanced budget tabled on April 21 reflects our government's commitment to the fiscal discipline that supports job creation, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for Canadians. It also reflects our long-standing position that Canadian families should be able to decide how to spend their hard-earned money, and that's why we're returning more of it to the pockets of every family.
I mention this in the context of the matters related to natural resources because this approach is not shared by all. Obviously, our opposition has been vociferous in advocating for policies that would reverse these tax cuts and raise the price of everything through risky policies like a carbon tax. Let me be clear. This unilateral scheme will require, by necessity, a carbon tax, impose higher prices on everything that Canadians buy, and hurt the Canadian economy and competitiveness. This would be no more obvious than in its impact on the energy sector. That is why you will notice that absent from our economic plan is any mention of a carbon tax.
In terms of a budget overview, let me spend some time talking about what is in economic action plan 2015. As the finance minister said, our balanced budget is prudent, it's practical, and it sticks to our successful plan for creating and protecting jobs and opportunities for Canadians. This includes important new measures to help families and communities prosper, while ensuring the security of all Canadians, and it delivers timely investments for the natural resource sector that has helped to build this great country.
Members have often heard me talk about Canada's natural resources as key drivers of our economy. There's good reason for that.
Our resource sectors—directly and indirectly—account for almost one fifth of our nominal GDP and more than 1.8 million jobs across the entire country. They generate an average of $30 billion annually in government revenues—revenues that support important public programs and services, including health care, education and infrastructure.
That is why responsibly developing our natural resources continues to be a central element in our economic action plan for 2015. And that is why our government is proud to continue supporting sustainable growth through targeted measures in the forest, mining, nuclear and oil and gas sectors. We have also made significant investments to strengthen public consultation and environmental protection.
Let me highlight some specific details of the economic action plan 2015.
For forestry, we will continue to support the transformation of the forest sector by extending the forest innovation program and the expanding market opportunities program.
In mining, we are sustaining Canada's global leadership by renewing the targeted geoscience initiative to develop new and innovative ways of exploring for deeper minerals, unlocking rare earth elements and chromite production, extending the mineral exploration tax credit, and expanding the definition of Canadian exploration expenses to include the costs associated with environmental studies and community consultations.
On the nuclear side, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited will receive the investments it needs to maintain safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories.
There is also continued support for LNG, from the accelerated capital cost allowance to a commitment to extend natural gas export licences from 25 to 40 years.
If you're in the business of natural resource development, then you are in the business of environmental performance and aboriginal engagement. That's why budget 2015 includes substantial investments and initiatives to maintain public engagement and improve environmental performance safety. There is funding to enhance the safety of marine transportation in the Arctic and further strengthen marine incident prevention, preparedness, and response in waters south of the 60th parallel. This is consistent with our approach to rail and pipelines.
As well there are some new investments to support effective project approval through the major projects management office initiative, to continue consultations with Canadians on projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and to support greater engagement with all Canadians, including aboriginal communities, with a focus on enhanced safety and environmental performance through the National Energy Board.
I will now discuss responsible resource development.
All of these measures build on our government's plan for responsible resource development, which is making the review process for major projects more predictable and timely while improving the safety of our offshore, rail, pipelines and nuclear facilities. Our government's message is clear: we are supporting the responsible development of our resources, but no project will proceed unless it is safe. Safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
Let me now turn to the issue of lower oil prices. Clearly, this has had an impact on the economy in all regions of Canada, on government bottom lines, and on the oil and gas industry's investment plans, at least in the short term. While conditions are challenging today, Canadian crude oil production is expected to keep growing in 2015 and beyond. Canada's oil and gas industry has a long-term perspective and most projects already under construction are expected to move forward. And remember: the long-term outlook for energy is strong.
The International Energy Agency projects that by 2040 the world will need at least a third more energy than is being consumed today. With our extensive oil and gas reserves and our unparalleled expertise, Canada is well positioned to help meet that demand. However, we must build the infrastructure needed to get Canadian energy to global markets to ensure Canada gets the best return for its resources, whatever the market conditions.
This brings me to my department's main estimates. First, it's important to note that the main estimates are a snapshot in time of planned expenditures. Here are the details.
As you will see there are a number of substantial new investments and they include $22.8 million to renew the investments in the forest industry transformation program, an additional $19.7 million to define the outer limits of Canada's continental shelf in the Arctic, and an $18.4 million increase to manage low-level historical waste through the Port Hope area initiative.
These main estimates also include funding for the seven agencies under my portfolio, which are key partners in supporting our government's natural resources priorities. To ensure the National Energy Board can continue its important work we're providing an additional $5.6 million to carry out public hearings on major projects such as Energy East.
As announced in budget 2015, $80 million over five years will be invested beginning this fiscal year for safety and environmental protection as well as greater engagement with Canadians.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, our balanced budget main estimates demonstrate our government's responsible and targeted approach to realizing the full benefits that our natural wealth provides. As I said when last here, we're committed to developing Canada's resources in a way that's safe and environmentally responsible, and engage all communities, in particular aboriginal communities, in every aspect of development. These are not negotiable, frankly, and we will continue to take action to ensure these goals are met.
Thank you again for this opportunity. I'm happy to take your questions.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for that question, Mr. Chair.
Obviously this is of particular interest to me, not just as the Minister of Natural Resources but as a member from one of the larger ridings in Canada and across northwestern Ontario, I would submit, with a calibre of timber that can compete with the best around the world.
In the wake of the last recession, in which the forest sector was the first in, and frankly, one of the last out, it's certainly showing signals—“strong” may too strong a word for it—and signs of life. There are parts of it that are doing better than others. If that's the case—and I believe it is—it's because of investments, the acceleration of commercialization, and highly innovative first-in-kind technologies in Canadian forestry industry facilities.
There are two important objectives in IFIT. In terms of technological innovation, there has been a focus on supporting the industry and specific mills in improving and increasing the efficiency of their production and of course the diversification of their product offering. I can say that in northwestern Ontario, particularly in the great Kenora riding, we are seeing one new mill open, two reopened ones, one set to reopen, and one at or near full capacity. In at least a third of these cases, they are coming back with value-added products. The support they're looking for—for example, from FedNor or Industry Canada—is focused on how to produce products more efficiently and with technologies that enable them to do so more effectively.
Current spending by proponents and contributions from other sources indicate that for every dollar the federal government invests from the program, another $2.60 is leveraged from other sources. We think that's good. We'd like to see it improve. The program has successfully funded more than 14 projects involving nine world-first technologies, with 75% of the projects creating new products or diversifying recipients' product offerings.
I'm a big fan of the success that this program has had. It's a credit to my officials for its implementation, and obviously, based on what I have just said, we have every confidence that it was a smart reinvestment moving forward.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for that question.
To go back to your first question, there are two structural challenges for the sector and in that sense two opportunities. I talked earlier about investments in innovation. The other important component is the transformation of the markets for forestry.
We've seen significant—I may understate it by saying significant—growth in the Pacific basin's demand for Canadian forest products. It's my view that while that's very encouraging, there remain parts of Canada.... Again I go back to northwestern Ontario, where we, being somewhat landlocked, are continuing to develop and strengthen our position in markets in the Midwest of the United States and looking at opportunities from the east coast, as our friends in New Brunswick are seeing strong signals that the forest sector is rebounding. In their aggregate, they all point to the pursuit of market diversification for Canada's sustainably produced and high-quality forest products.
This program spending, to the tune of $1.8 billion since 2007, has significantly improved product demand for the Canadian forest sector overall. I'm pleased to highlight to the committee that budget 2015 confirmed $30 million over two years to the expanding market opportunities program. I believe strongly this will help Canadian forestry companies develop new markets and market segments for Canada's wood products.
I would say in closing, Mr. Chair, that my efforts in the Pacific basin in particular have been focused on, in the case of South Korea, looking at the free trade agreements and dealing with any residual issues like marking, translation, and capacity around Canada forest products, This is to ensure there are no technical barriers to the robust exercise Canada has made overall in terms of signing on to more than 38 free trade agreements. For the forest sector this has to mean increased demand. We've seen that in significant ways for China and we're very hopeful in Korea. As other agreements become ripe for discussion and advancement, we believe that the forest sector has probably not been for some time in a better overall position in terms of technology and expanding market opportunities to take full advantage of what that presents.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
I do not agree at all that there is a decrease in resources in Budget 2015. In fact, we fully acknowledge that we need to invest more in the National Energy Board.
I should say that obviously the pipeline safety act, Bill C-46 in particular, addresses the pillars of incident prevention, preparedness, response, liability, and compensation. I am satisfied, following the review by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources, that the bill, as it's reported back to the House of Commons, reflects this government's commitment, frankly, to pipeline safety, prevention, preparedness, response, and liability, and that the resources are in place to enable the National Energy Board to sufficiently do its consultations with communities, and in terms of the powers of enforcement, which is another key component—
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
I understand.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
The budget that followed the main estimates made a commitment for $80 million over the course of five years. As I said earlier, I'm satisfied that this level of resources committed to the National Energy Board, by all accounts, based on our consultations, obviously appears to be the right figure to satisfy the important arm's-length work that the National Energy Board does. In addition to having fixed timelines, there are plenty of resources there to meet the test of public confidence, and speaking to the budget, the additional resources over the next five years will obviously help us achieve that goal.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Just so it's clear, funding announced in the budget is going to strengthen the NEB's oversight of Canada's energy transportation infrastructure and will be focused on enhancing its ability to pursue safety and environmental protection.
The additional steps, of course, are going to be needed to support the LNG industry and other natural gas exporters, given that there have been a couple of key policy decisions, in particular to extend the export licences from 25 years to 40 years. Doing that will improve regulatory certainty but will obviously place additional demands on the National Energy Board. This builds on Canada's advantage, in addition to the accelerated capital cost allowance for LNG.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Let me move beyond the speculation, with the greatest of respect, and let me inform the committee, as I'm sure it already understands, that approximately 95% of the NEB's funding is from costs recovered from the energy industry. The majority of the funds used for compliance and oversight activities will help ensure the safety and security of energy infrastructure. Part of this funding will also be used to help deploy staff across Canada to engage more closely with local communities and partners such as first responders and municipal governments.
We obviously understand completely the higher profile, and rightly so, and the desire of first nation communities and municipalities to be engaged in energy infrastructure projects that may impact them. The resources are in place to ensure that the National Energy Board has the capacity, including the human resources, to meet existing and new demands over the next five years.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Based on the question put by the member, that's an unfortunate opening remark. I hope it was meant in jest. I didn't do that. If he's compelled to raise it, if stretching your face after flubbing the back part of an answer captured by a mischievous reporter is something that he wants to emphasize here at committee, I guess he has that luxury.
Let me talk more pointedly about Natural Resources Canada and the broader questions around things like energy infrastructure and things that—
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Well, thank you. One example that comes to mind would be the enhanced national earthquake monitoring line item. Ensuring the safety and security of Canadians is a top priority. We invested on this point $11.4 million to upgrade earthquake monitoring equipment with state-of-the-art systems that are faster, more reliable, and more cost-effective. This investment is focused on enhancing Canada's earthquake monitoring capacity and enabling faster alerts for critical infrastructure operators and first responders. By way of example—
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
It's okay. I'm used to rapid fire from this particular member.
I can tell you there has been no compromise of the safety. I would turn his attention to a piece of legislation recently that appears to have had unanimous support at this point in time around pipeline safety, for example. I just reviewed earthquake monitoring. Pipeline safety legislation, and the resources required to support it, build on a record of 99.999% safety over more than 72,000 kilometres of federally regulated pipeline.
Obviously, what we're focused on first and foremost is safety and it will not be compromised. No resource project or infrastructure project required to support natural resources will be compromised in terms of safety. This would include the resources that cover the entire process of developing resources responsibly from the environmental assessment process itself and the National Energy Board's important work, to compliance for profound safety reasons around marine, rail, and pipelines that give and meet that public confidence test around safety prevention preparedness response and world-class liabilities, based on the polluter pays principle.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
First of all, we've made unprecedented investments that help create a Canadian biofuels industry through capital and operating incentives for domestic production, regulations for renewable content, and support for construction of first-of-kind next generation biofuel facilities.
You might remember that in 2008 we announced $1.5 billion over nine years for the eco-energy initiative for the biofuels program to provide incentives for producers of renewable fuels. That, obviously, is set to expire in 2017. To date, I can tell you that this program has contributed more than $901 million to biofuel producers, 63% of the total contribution funds, in order to encourage domestic production of renewable fuels to meet the demand associated with Environment Canada's regulation. This program is expected to invest almost $1 billion by 2017.
Declining funding to this program is due to the funding profile for each of the programs as they wind down and obviously projects near completion.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Obviously, we're very proud of the accomplishments of Chalk River in representing Canada's nuclear position the world over. There is a transition taking place at AECL. Funding for this will ensure safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories and will include nuclear science and technology and supporting infrastructure.
Obviously, the decommissioning of the NRU still represents an opportunity for medical isotopes to be produced by alternative means, but the ability of the NRU to produce, in particular medical isotopes, on a contingency basis past 2016 is in place. I might add that this has been very well received by experts in the nuclear sector.
Chalk River remains in its aggregate a dynamic and robust place where important nuclear science, technology, and innovation is taking place. We believe that moving forward with a GoCo, which is consistent with our partners at least in the United States and England, will continue to put Canada at or near the top of all of the nuclear science technology.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for that question.
First of all, I don't profess to be an expert on oil prices. For the federal government's purposes, we're more interested in the prudent approach to any potential revenue, in particular from oil over the course of 25 to 40 years, and its average cost, as opposed to the highs and lows. Obviously the current volatility reminds us of a much broader situation of a fragile economic environment the world over, but when it comes to oil prices, the responsible thing is to take an average cost over a longer period of time.
With respect to production, as I said in my opening remarks this continues to increase, both for the United States and for Canada. I would add that Canada in particular is increasing its production and export to Europe. The fuel quality directive obviously took us a step closer to that. Oil sands crude now sits with the light and sweet crudes that Europe currently permits. We're marching towards 5% of the crude oil supply to Italy.
Our transportation of crude oil is obviously going by pipeline, rail, and marine transportation. I think the most important thing we can do right now is to ensure as a matter of public confidence that when it comes to these three important transportation pieces of infrastructure, as they relate to reaching the markets that your constituents are thinking about and want, that safety, prevention, preparedness, response, and world-class liability based on the polluter pays principle are the bedrock of moving forward on any options for export of Canadian crude.
View Greg Rickford Profile
CPC (ON)
In the extractive sector, you have oil and gas, and then mining. Within mining, you obviously have the exploration side and the extraction side. I think the key challenges right now are on the exploration side. The focus ought to be—and I believe that budget 2015 strives for that—to extend the mineral exploration tax credit to 15% flow-through to support junior mining companies in raising capital to finance exploration activities. It's been terrifically successful and it needed to be extended.
Another important piece, certainly speaking as the member of Parliament for the great Kenora riding and the interests across northern Ontario, is that outside of some world-class, scale-yielding mines, we also have a number of smaller extractive opportunities that have arisen out of good policy related to exploration. Atikokan and Rainy River come to mind, and there are others. Importantly, what we heard from those stakeholders was to examine the Canadian exploration expenses for tax purposes.
Obviously within the extractive sector as a whole, environmental processes are rightly a more prominent part of the process in obtaining permitting for exploration and for extraction, and community consultations. To that end, the expansion of this definition is focused squarely on exploration activities, and effective this tax year, there will be a full deduction on the costs associated with any environmental processes or community consultation processes required as part of getting a permit to carry on exploration activities.
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