Editor, The Times:
In the coming weeks the federal Standing Committee on Finance will be studying Bill C-38, legislation to implement the Government of Canada’s Budget 2012. This whole-of-government budget will impact different departments and pieces of existing legislation. Some of the most prominent changes included are to environmental and resource development regulation.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the natural resource sector to our economy. In 2010 there were over 760,000 workers in this sector, and in the next decade there are over $500 billion in new projects set to come online. Natural resource projects represent a major long-term boost to the Canadian economy, not to mention an important source of tax revenue that will allow governments to pay for the health care, education and social programs that Canadians enjoy.
At the same time, a truly viable economy must go hand-in-hand with strong environmental protection, which is why Budget 2012 includes the “Responsible Resource Development” strategy. This plan will allow Canada to reap the benefits of rising demand for our abundant natural resources, while ensuring resource development is environmentally sustainable.
The strategy both streamlines and strengthens environmental regulation by, for example, changing our fisheries protection regime that needlessly subjects a drainage ditch next to a farmer’s field to the same regulatory requirements as a river or lake. It will improve pipeline safety by enabling the National Energy Board to increase the number of inspections for pipelines by 50 per cent and double the number of annual comprehensive audits to identify safety issues before they occur. It will also further strengthen Canada’s tanker safety regime, ensuring appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks related to oil spills and emergency preparedness and response.
Due diligence is being done on this bill, as it will be extensively studied by the Finance Committee as well as a special subcommittee with members drawn from a number of relevant Parliamentary committees (Environment, Natural Resources, etc.). Our government wants to make sure that we have a bill that truly achieves the objective of paving the way for a prosperous and secure future for Canadians.
As a member of the Finance Committee I recently travelled to Washington, D.C., where my colleagues and I were briefed by U.S. officials on the economic situation in the United States and the European Union. We came away from these meetings with a strengthened sense that Canada needs a long-term plan to ensure prosperity for our nation in years to come; that is exactly what we are working to achieve with this legislation.
Cathy McLeod, M.P.