Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the House to speak on the bill,
which is a small but important bill when it comes to greening our economy
and fighting climate change. As always, I am very privileged to rise as the
member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.
Today I am going to be addressing Bill S-222 and how the use of a
sustainable and renewable material such as wood can help build a greener and
healthier economy for all.
Before I begin, I would like to thank the retired senator Diane Griffin for
sponsoring this small but important bill, as well as Senator Jim Quinn, who
saw it through its passage in the other place in this Parliament.
The effects of climate change are all too apparent, with warmer winters,
heavier snowfalls, floods, storm surges and extreme weather happening around
the world. Just this year in Canada we have seen record wildfires and other
climate events. We do not have to look far to see the effects of climate
change. They are growing in frequency and intensity with every passing year,
which is why it is absolutely critical that we all step up our work to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
That is why our government introduced the 2030 emissions reduction plan, our
path to meet 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, consistent with the United Nations'
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Just last week, at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly,
the Prime Minister reaffirmed Canada's commitment to fighting climate change
while also building a Canadian economy that works for everyone. Indeed, the
need for action on climate change has never been greater. There is always
more we can do, and more we should do, every day on every front, and that
includes in every facet of the Government of Canada's operations. That is
where Bill S-222 comes in.
By putting a preference on the use of building materials that have
environmental benefits, Bill S-222 encourages the use of wood when planning
construction projects for federal buildings and infrastructure. Most of
these types of projects fall under the responsibility of Public Services and
The department oversees the procurement of some $25 billion of goods and
services annually. It also serves as the government's designated custodian
of facilities, overseeing one of the largest and most diverse real estate
portfolios in Canada. Under the greening government strategy, we have a plan
to transition to net-zero carbon and climate-resilient government
operations, positioning Canada as a global leader in green government.
Public Services and Procurement Canada is especially well positioned to help
the government fulfill this commitment.
I know the department is placing a strong focus on delivering sustainable
infrastructure and retooling procurement processes to support environmental
and climate priorities. With Bill S-222 and its focus on the greater use of
materials with environmental benefits, such as wood, we have yet another
tool to encourage a greener government.
Wood is a renewable resource that is abundantly available in most areas of
this country. The many benefits of wood in construction have been clear for
centuries. Newer wood products, such as mass timber, can meet the needs and
demands of our dynamic world. It is also natural, renewable and sustainable.
Not only does it contribute to carbon dioxide reductions, but it is a vital
source of prosperity for people and communities across the country.
The forestry industry employs Canadians in nearly every province and
territory and provides economic benefits in many rural, remote and
indigenous communities. If mass timber products were used more extensively
in construction, as proposed in the bill, those benefits would be
multiplied. Indeed, we have heard during second reading of S-222 that the
bill could help Canada's forestry sector produce more jobs and create more
wealth within rural communities.
Simply put, increasing the government procurement of mass timber products
would increase the domestic markets for our lumber. To be clear, the bill
and a rejuvenated domestic market for lumber would not necessarily mean
increased forest harvest, but it would absolutely mean getting more value
added out of the trees we do cut.
Canada is already a leader in the engineered wood sector, and this bill
would help Canadian companies scale up to maintain and grow our position. It
means the creation of more jobs right here at home. It is good news for
Canada's forest industry.
However, I do not want us to lose sight of how Bill S-222 would help us
continue to fight against climate change. During the study of the bill, we
heard specifically about how forest products could help decarbonize
construction. Of course we know that long-lasting wood products store carbon
that was taken out of the atmosphere as trees were growing, and we heard
important information about how new trees that replace those that are
harvested continue to store carbon throughout their lives.
At the end of the day, products such as mass timber have a lighter carbon
footprint than other construction materials. If used more extensively in
construction in Canada, it is estimated that it could mean removing more
than half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year
by 2030, which is equal to taking 125,000 gas-powered cars off the road.
Right now, only 5% of large buildings use wood as a primary component.
That means we have a huge potential for growth here in the use of these
products, which translates into massive potential to help decarbonize
Canadian construction across the board. Bill S-222 can help us do just
I truly hope that we could all agree that the need for action on climate
change has never been more urgent. We must continue to take every action we
can, and we must take it further and faster. By making government operations
greener, Canada could reach its sustainability goals. We know that one way
to do this is to make better use of sustainable and renewable products, such
as wood for construction and renovating federal buildings and
That is why our government is supporting this small but mighty bill, and I
encourage my colleagues in the House to do the same. Similar bills have had
backing of the House in the past, and we were happy to see such resounding
support for Bill S-222 at second reading. I hope to see the same support for
it this time around.