Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yukon.
I appreciate this opportunity to speak to legislation that demonstrates our government's commitment to the things that matter most to Canadians: economic growth, energy security, and environmental protection. The pipeline safety act would deliver on all three. It would help to ensure Canada's continued prosperity while demanding that our vital energy infrastructure is environmentally responsible.
Driving all of this is our determination to have Canadians continue to benefit from pipelines while taxpayers are protected from the potential cost of a pipeline incident. That is why we already have one of the most rigorous pipeline safety regimes in the world. We have measures in place to ensure that Canada's pipelines are safe and modern. We have a national regulator with the teeth to enforce compliance with today's high standards, and we have the results to prove that it is working.
As we have heard many times, between 2008 and 2013, 99.999% of petroleum products transported through federally regulated pipelines in Canada have arrived safely. Our government wants to build on that record of achievement. We are aiming for zero incidents. The pipeline safety act could help us get there.
As members know, the pipeline safety act is another key element in our government's comprehensive plan for responsible resource development. Through this plan, we are ensuring that Canada's abundant natural resources are developed in ways that promote jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. We are doing this while strengthening environmental protection and ensuring that aboriginal Canadians are engaged in every aspect of resource development.
It is a balanced plan. It is a plan that reduces duplication and makes the regulatory review process more predictable and timely for major resource projects. This plan does so while ensuring that no project is permitted to proceed until it is proven safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
I would like to pause on that point for just a moment. We have a world-class, and in some cases world-leading, regulatory system overseeing this sector. Our government has already introduced comprehensive measures for tankers and offshore safety to ensure world-class standards. We are also taking action on rail.
Our regulatory system would be further strengthened by this legislation. It would assure Canadians and our international customers that pipeline safety is paramount in Canada. Add such things as technological innovations in the energy sector, our commitment to the meaningful inclusion of aboriginal peoples, and our profound belief in environmental protection and we have all the elements we need to make Canada a global leader in responsible energy development.
The pipeline safety act is an important element in all of this. The act also recognizes that Canada's oil and gas sector is literally helping to fuel our country's economy. In 2013, for example, Canada produced approximately 3.5 million barrels of oil and approximately 13.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. The overwhelming majority of it, some $100 billion worth, was shipped by pipeline.
As well, in 2013 the oil and gas industry employed about 360,000 Canadians directly and indirectly. That is 360,000 well-paying jobs to support Canadians and their families in every part of our country.
Furthermore, Canada's sale of $128 billion in energy products in 2013 represented more than a quarter of our country's merchandise exports. This impact is incredible. The oil and gas industry alone generated almost 8% of our gross domestic product. Over the last five years it generated an average of $23.3 billion annually in government revenue to help pay for social programs such as health care, education, and infrastructure.
Despite recent declines in oil and gas prices, the sheer size of these numbers underscores why our government is doing everything it can to harness the opportunities and benefits of our energy sector for Canadians. Safe, secure, and modern pipelines are essential to these efforts. In fact, the pipeline industry itself is a major employer in Canada, supporting thousands of jobs throughout the country.
The Standing Committee on Natural Resources, which I have the pleasure to be a part of, heard from a representative of Canada's Building Trades Unions, who described the type of job creation at stake with the construction of new pipelines. He said:
If it is an oil pipeline, it means we will have thousands of people in a variety of trades, including plumbers, boilermakers, millwrights, iron workers, sheet metalworkers, insulators, labourers, scaffolders, carpenters, and the occasional elevator constructor.... About 60 trades are involved.
That is just the construction of the pipeline. It is just one element of the economic value derived from creating a modern, safe network of pipelines.
The pipeline safety act would strengthen this world-class effort. Specifically, Bill C-46 would offer additional measures and protections in three key areas. The first is incident prevention, the second is preparedness and response, and the third is liability and compensation.
Liability and compensation is particularly important, because it sends a clear signal of our government's intent to hold pipeline operators accountable for any harm, loss, or damage they might cause.
Canadians should make no mistake about our government's determination in this regard. As the Minister of Natural Resources has said on many occasions, the pipeline safety act would build on companies' unlimited liability when they are at fault or are negligent. This legislation would do so by implementing no-fault or absolute liability for all companies operating pipelines. For major oil pipelines, the absolute liability would be $1 billion. This means that pipeline companies would be responsible for damages, regardless of what happens or who is at fault. It is a standard that would leave nothing to chance.
The pipeline safety act would specifically provide governments with the ability to pursue pipeline operators for the cost of environmental damages. In addition, the legislation would give the National Energy Board the authority to order the reimbursement of spill cleanup costs incurred by governments, aboriginal governing bodies, or individuals.
The bottom line is that taxpayers would not be left on the hook. The full cost of cleanup and compensation would be borne by the pipeline operators, as it should be. This would even extend to pipelines that have been abandoned. Operators would cover any costs and damages related to their pipelines when they were no longer in use. In other words, it is a liability that would continue in perpetuity, or at least until the pipeline was removed from the ground.
I could go on about the merits of Bill C-46, but let me close by simply inviting members to consider this legislation carefully. If they do, I am confident that they will support it as a way of ensuring the safety of our pipelines, the strength of our energy sector, and the prosperity of Canadians.