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  • Writer's pictureLeah Taylor Roy

Bill S-222


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

Procurement Canada.


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

that.


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

infrastructure.


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.

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