FinanceFisheries & OceansForestry

FINANCE

The Collection of Financial Information by Statistics Canada (2018)
Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability and Predictability in Federal Infrastructure Programs (2017)
Budget Implementation Act (2017)
Budget Implementation Act (2016)
The Fluctuating Canadian Dollar: What it means for Canadians (2016)
The Canada – USA Price Gap (2013)
The Costs and Benefits of Canada’s One-Cent Coin to Canadian Tax Payers and the Overall Economy (2010)
Transparency, Balance and Choice: Canada’s Credit Card and Debit Card Systems (2009)
Stemming the Flow of Illicit Money: A Priority for Canada (2006)
Consumer Protection in the Financial Services Sector: The Unfinished Agenda (2006)
Financial Institution Reform: Lowering the Barriers to Foreign Banks (1996)
An Act to provide Borrowing Authority (1985)

See also: TAXES


The Collection of Financial Information by Statistics Canada

Date: December 2018
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Douglas Black (AB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen (NB)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

In October 2018, Statistics Canada announced it would be conducting a pilot project that would entail requesting financial information of Canadians from nine banks starting January 2019. This information was to include bill payments, cash withdrawals from ATMs, credit card payments, electronic money transfers and account balances. Information from half a million Canadian households was to be transferred to Statistics Canada complete with personal identification. A public outcry from thousands of Canadians led to quick action by the Senate committee.

The committee held a meeting on November 8, 2018 with representatives from Statistics Canada, the Privacy Commissioner, banking and consumer groups and privacy experts.

The Senate report found that this data collection could be considered unethical and may even lead to lawsuits from banks who are trying to protect their customer data.

The committee put forward three main recommendations: restructure the pilot project so personal identifiers were removed; update Canada’s privacy legislation to align with international standards; and address Canadians’ privacy concerns by reviewing the Statistics Act.

Impact:

During his testimony at the Senate committee hearings on November 8, the Chief Statistician of Statistics Canada announced that the pilot project was on hold until privacy concerns could be resolved through consultations with the Privacy Commissioner and with financial institutions.

The decision was covered by various media outlets, including the Financial Post, CBC, and the Toronto Star.


Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability and Predictability in Federal Infrastructure Programs

Date: June 2017
Committee: National Finance
Chair: Hon. Percy Mockler (NB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Anne C. Cools (ON)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This is the second interim report on the Government of Canada’s $186.7 billion program to support municipal, provincial and territorial infrastructure projects over 12 years.

The report compiles as much data as possible on more than 6,000 federally-approved infrastructure projects since April 2016. It makes seven recommendations for how to improve the government’s infrastructure program, primarily, more transparency about how it is spending public money and growing the economy.

Impact:

In April 2018, Infrastructure Canada published Investing in Canada: Canada’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan.  Much of the publication responds to each of the recommendations in the Senate Committee’s report.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies pre-budget submission called on the government to adopt the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance’s recommendations for federal infrastructure programs outlined in the report.


Budget Implementation Act

Date: June 2017
Bill: C-44
Committee: National Finance
Chair: Hon. Percy Mockler (NB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Ann Cools (ON)
Bill sponsor: Hon. Yuen Pau Woo (BC)
Downloads: Text of the Bill

Summary:

Bill C-44 implements key measures from the government’s 2017 budget. It includes changes to numerous other federal laws and a plan to create a $35-billion infrastructure bank.

The Senate convened 15 committee meetings for the pre-study of the bill, which lasted 28 hours and involved 85 witnesses. Some committees increased the number of meetings originally scheduled to receive more robust testimony.

The committee report on the bill includes several amendments concerning the escalator tax on alcohol.  Senators approved an amendment to disallow automatic tax increases on alcohol every year.

Senators discussed the possibility of removing the infrastructure bank provisions from the budget bill to allow for a more thorough review. A move to separate it from the bill was defeated.  The Senate passed the budget bill without amendments.

Impact:

Bill C-44 represents the second phase of the government’s plan to promote economic growth by stimulating investment and job creation.

The Senate had an impact on Bill C-44, even before the committees began their pre-study of the bill. The changes to caregiver tax credits, funding for mental health and home care, benefits for veterans and support for families through employment insurance have antecedents in ideas and recommendations that came from the Senate.

Prime Minister Trudeau said that Senators do not have the authority to amend budget bills. Senators took the unprecedented step of reasserting their right by sending a message to the House of Commons saying that the Constitution allows the Red Chamber to amend money bills.


Budget Implementation Act 

Date: December 2016
Committee: National Finance
Bill: C-29
Chair: Hon. Larry Smith (QC – Saurel)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Larry Campbell (BC)
Bill sponsor: Hon. Peter Harder (MB)
Downloads: Text of the Bill

Summary:

Bill C-29 is an omnibus bill designed to implement parts of Budget 2016. It addresses a wide variety of topics, including proposed changes to the Bank Act (Canada).

Bill C-29 has been debated in the House of Commons and the Senate, and the government has recently decided to withdraw the portions of the legislation related to the Bank Act.

Bill C-29, as presented, had proposed changes to the Bank Act (Canada) to expand the consumer protection provisions of that statute and create what amounts to a “complete code” of consumer protection rules for federally-regulated banks. This was all found in a new Part XII.2 of the Bank Act, titled “Dealings with Customers and Public.” Some provisions of Part XII.2 were relocated from elsewhere in the Bank Act, while other provisions were new.

The bill was first sent to the Senate for pre-study, where the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance and two other Senate committees studied portions of the bill. The committee report was presented to the Senate on December 12, 2016 and contained one amendment. This amendment removed Division 5 of Part 4 of the bill, which gave the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over Canada’s banking sector, in direct conflict with provincial jurisdiction over consumer protection. The fear was that it might weaken consumer protection laws in some provinces that had more robust protection than the federal government would propose.

Impact:

When the report was presented to the Senate, there was an amendment to the motion for adopting the report proposed that dealt with changes to the small business deductions of the Income Tax Act (section 125). This amendment was defeated and the one amendment on changes to the Bank Act was the only one that went forward to the House.

Although the House did not agree with the amendment, the Finance Minister backed down and agreed to remove the banking sector provisions from Bill C-29 and introduce them as a separate bill in the future. This meant the Senate had been successful in dividing out an omnibus bill to give part of its greater scrutiny. The fact that this was a money bill, even though the changes proposed would not have affected costs or taxes, was particularly interesting. This bill was hailed as a turning point in the emerging independence of the Senate.


The Fluctuating Canadian Dollar: What it means for Canadians

Date: March 2016
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. David Tkachuk (SK)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This report addressed changes in the Canadian dollar value and its impacts on Canadian households and the wider economy. The committee looked at the cause and effects of recent dollar fluctuations, as well as whether the Bank of Canada should intervene and limit changes to the exchange rate. The committee found that although there were some downsides, the floating exchange rate is the best option for the Canadian economy. It also noted that the exchange rate is closely tied to the price of oil, however. Lower exchange rates do produce overall higher prices for Canadian households and businesses face higher costs for imported products. Some industries benefit, however, such as tourism, manufacturing and aerospace.

Impact:

As this report included no recommendations but rather reported findings, there was little media pickup of the study.


The Canada – USA Price Gap 

Date: February 2013
Committee: National Finance
Chair: Hon. Joseph A. Day (NB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Larry Smith (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Senate Committee on National Finance studied price discrepancies between certain Canadian and American goods.  One contributing factor it found was the prevalence of ‘country pricing’ in Canada. Country pricing is a practice in which businesses sell their products at different prices in different countries, after accounting for exchange rates. In Canada, this practice can lead some manufacturers to charge Canadian retailers 10% to 50% more than American retailers.

Customs tariffs are another significant cause of the price gap. Large tariffs are imposed on importers who attempt to bring some goods, such as hockey pants, into Canada. One study shows that, in 2011, 78% of goods that can be subjected to customs duties had a higher tariff rate in Canada than in the United States. As some tariffs were seen to be as much as 15.5 % higher in Canada than in the United States, customs duties can be said to account for a significant percentage of the price gap.

The committee also found that the small size of the Canadian market may drive up the cost of importing and marketing goods. Canadian businesses also deal with more regulations than many American businesses, and sometimes pay higher taxes (including fuel taxes) and minimum wages, all of which raise the cost of operating in Canada.

Several other factors were found to have influenced the price gap. These include the volatility of exchange rates, which create an atmosphere in which retailers cannot effectively include the value of the Canadian dollar in their price. Excessive safety standards for Canadian apparel were also seen to raise the cost of production and therefore the retail price of goods.

The Committee made four recommendations:

  • review Canadian tariffs, aiming to reduce or eliminate them;
  • study the costs and benefits of reducing the 10% mark-up Canadian – exclusive book distributors can add when importing American books;
  • integrate safety standards between the two countries to reduce price discrepancies without affecting the safety needs of either country; and
  • consider the costs and benefits of raising the threshold value below which goods can be shipped to Canada duty and tax free.

Impact:

The Finance Minister supported the recommendations and noted that he “would like to eliminate tariffs going forward.”  In its 2013 Speech from the Throne, the government continued to place high priority on the issue of geographic price discrimination, especially between Canada and the United States.

Karen Proud, a representative of the Retail Council of Canada, praised the report and commented that, if the government were to adopt some of the Committee’s recommendations, it would “help the retailers who frankly have been suffering.” The Tire Dealers Association of Canada stated that the report confirmed its own findings of discriminatory ‘country pricing’. Douglas Porter, Chief Economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns, callied the committee’s report “fascinating”.  A Financial Post editorial concluded that it “lands in favour of consumers” but argued that the report “pulls punches” by failing to recommend direct action by the federal government against geographic price discrimination.


The Costs and Benefits of Canada’s One-Cent Coin to Canadian Tax Payers and the Overall Economy

Date: December 2010
Committee: National Finance
Chair: Hon. Joseph A. Day (NB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Richard Neufeld (BC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Senate Committee on National Finance, in this analysis of the penny’s impact on the Canadian economy, recommended that the government cease production of the penny. Canada’s one-cent coin has lost 95% of its purchasing power since it was first produced in 1908. In effect, what used to cost a penny now costs twenty cents. A century of inflation since the coin was first produced has reduced its value, although its cost of production has escalated to 1.5 cents.

Impact:

The federal government announced in March 2012 that it would abolish the penny as of February 4, 2013.


Transparency, Balance and Choice: Canada’s Credit Card and Debit Card Systems 

Date: June 2009
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Michael A. Meighen (ON)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

In 2009, Canadians spent about $460 billion using credit and debit cards.  Various entities make money from fees and interest paid on these transactions by both consumers and merchants. One financial institution made over $2 billion on credit cards alone, for example.  Most of the credit card and debit card systems are unregulated, however, and they lack a great deal of transparency.

Because of its concerns regarding the absence of clarity in Canada’s credit card system and the future of our debit card market, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce undertook a study and issued six key recommendations. The Committee focused on ensuring fair treatment for consumers and merchants, while simultaneously avoiding excessive government intervention in the credit and debit card industries.  In its opinion, the federal government should:

  • appoint an “oversight board”;
  • permit merchants to bargain collectively regarding payment card conditions and fees;
  • take appropriate action to allow merchants to display costs of various payment methods;
  • take appropriate action to require calculation of flat fees for debit card transactions, and set the interchange fee at zero for a period of three years;
  • require card issuers to disclose information in a clear, simple and conspicuous fashion on each monthly statement; and
  • expeditiously introduce several necessary regulatory measures to ensure that card users are treated fairly by credit card issuers.

Impact:

Several associations representing Canadian merchants publicly announced their support for the report. The Retail Council of Canada, for example, suggested the Senate had appropriately recognized that “market forces alone aren’t enough to defend [merchants] from the market dominance of the two major credit card companies and the banks”. The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors  expressed their interest in seeing the federal government take action to implement the Committee’s recommendations. The Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association also applauded the report, noting the significance of credit card fees in the costs of fuel retailers.  However, some organizations such as MasterCard Canada dismissed the report, suggesting that increased regulation of the credit card industry would hurt consumers.

Shortly after the report was issued, the federal government announced a voluntary “Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada” which adopted many of the Senate Committee’s proposals although it continued to leave credit card fees largely unregulated.

The government also implemented some of the Committee’s recommendations regarding consumer protection of Canadian credit card users including an effective minimum 21-day, interest-free grace period on all new credit card purchases, and a requirement to inform consumers of the length of time that it would take to fully repay their credit card balance if they only made a minimum payment every month.

In 2010, the government introduced the Payment Cards Network Act to regulate payment card networks and commercial practices of credit card companies. It also set up a Task Force to review the payments system which released its final report in December 2011, advocating an overhaul of Canada’s payments card system.

In 2013, the Competition Tribunal approved Interac’s request to restructure as a for-profit company, reflecting the Senate Committee’s predictions. The Competition Bureau also brought a case against Visa and MasterCard, criticizing those two companies for the practice of enforcing restrictive rules on merchants. While the Bureau’s case failed, it echoed the concerns of the Committee regarding such rules.

In 2014, Visa and MasterCard agreed to cut their merchant fees.  One senator called the cuts “practically meaningless”, pointing out that Visa and MasterCard had spiked rates by 25% in the past two years.


Stemming the Flow of Illicit Money: A Priority for Canada 

Date: October 2006
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Jerahmiel S. (Jerry) Grafstein (ON)
Deputy Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act required Parliamentary review of its administration and operation five years after it came into force (July 5, 2000).  This report outlines the current reporting regime, describes desired upgrades, discusses international dimensions and makes 16 recommendations, including regular Parliamentary oversight of RCMP, FINTRAC and other enforcement agencies.

Impact:

The government introduced Bill C-25 to update the Act in October 2006.  The Senate passed the bill on December 14 of that year, but observed that it failed to include “independent review of the national security activities of a number of entities, including the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)” as recommended in Stemming the Flow.


Consumer Protection in the Financial Services Sector: The Unfinished Agenda

Date: June 2006
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Jerahmiel S. (Jerry) Grafstein (ON)
Deputy Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This report examines the impact of federal legislation and initiatives designed to protect consumers within the financial services sector.  Topics include the role, corporate governance structure and effectiveness of agencies, ombudspersons and others who play a role with respect to consumer protection; supervision of the financial services sector; and consumer credit rates and reporting agencies.

Impact:

Canada’s investment community frequently commented on this report and continues to cite it as a resource. Much of the interest was generated by the Committee’s recommendation for a single national securities regulator.  Although the concept has many supporters, including the federal and Ontario provincial governments, it has been resisted by other provincial governments who have moved forward with an alternative harmonization initiative called the Passport System.


Financial Institution Reform: Lowering the Barriers to Foreign Banks

Date: October 1996
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Michael Kirby (NS)
Deputy Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Committee reviewed a government White Paper called Review of Financial Sector Legislation, Proposals for Change. The report recommends allowing foreign banks to operate in Canada.

Impact:

Bill C-67 was passed in 1999, amending the Bank Act to allow foreign banks to offer banking services in Canada without having to establish separate subsidiary banks in this country.


An Act to provide Borrowing Authority

Date: February 1985
Bill: C-11
Sponsor: Hon. William Doody (NL)
Downloads: Text of the Bill

Summary:

Early in 1984, the federal budget forecast high but declining deficits for the following five years. By the end of the year, however, interest rates had risen and the economy had weakened. As a result, government revenue was expected to be much lower than originally projected while public debt charges were expected to be substantially higher.

The government therefore introduced Bill C-11, the Borrowing Authority Act, asking Parliament to raise its borrowing limit by roughly $23 (later reduced to $19) billion for the next two years.  Although no details were provided as to how this additional money would be spent, the House of Commons quickly passed the bill in one day and forwarded it to the Senate.

Some members of the Senate argued Parliament has a constitutional duty to oversee government spending which it cannot do unless the government first publishes an account of its proposed expenditures.  Bill C-11 was accordingly delayed until new estimates were filed seven weeks later.

Impact:

The Senate’s treatment of Bill C-11 raised questions about its appropriate role in Parliament (see, for example, a Globe and Mail article entitled “Rebellion in the Senate”).

FISHERIES & OCEANS

When Every Minute Counts — Maritime Search and Rescue (2018)
Report on Aquaculture (2016)
The Management of Atlantic Fish Stocks: Beyond The 200-Mile Limit (2007)
Canada’s New and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans (2005)


When Every Minute Counts — Maritime Search and Rescue

Date: November 2018
Committee: Fisheries and Oceans
Chair: Hon. Fabian Manning (NL)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Marc Gold (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This report provides an in-depth look into Canada’s search and rescue system, and while it finds an overall effective system, there is room for improvement, especially in the areas of coverage, capacity, prevention, and governance.

The report notes the importance of search and rescue (SAR) operations in Canada, especially given that Canada borders three oceans, and that 600 lives are saved, while 18 others are lost, on Newfoundland and Labrador’s coastline alone every year.

The report includes 17 recommendations touching on personnel, training facilities, new equipment, civilian operators and safety education. It urges the government to diversify its recruitment to include more Indigenous individuals, especially in the Arctic.

It calls for a pilot project to assess if it is feasible to contract civilian helicopters to assist SAR activities in the Arctic and in Newfoundland and Labrador. It also recommends emergency radio beacons be made mandatory in all fishing fleets over the next two years.

The Senate committee held public hearings in Ottawa, Halifax and St. John’s and conducted site visits in five provinces (NS, NL, BC, QC, and NU) and four countries (England, Ireland, Norway, and Denmark).

Impact:

The Senate report was much anticipated by the Newfoundland and Labrador government, which was waiting for its release before calling a provincial inquiry into the death of Burton Winters. Winters was a 14-year-old who died in 2012 when his snowmobile broke down on an ice sheet and he tried to walk home.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced in December 2018 that the inquiry will proceed with the Senate report providing a strong basis for it.

The report received wide media coverage, including articles on CBC and in the Telegram (NL).


Report on Aquaculture

Date: June 2016
Committee: Fisheries and Oceans
Acting Chair: Hon. Fabian Manning (NL)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Elizabeth Hubley (PEI)
Downloads: Vol. 1: Aquaculture Industry and Governance in Canada
Vol. 2: Aquaculture Industry and Governance in Norway and Scotland
Vol. 3: An Ocean of Opportunities: Aquaculture in Canada

Summary:

This comprehensive three-volume report looked at aquaculture regulation in Canada, Scotland and Norway, as well as current challenges and future potential for the industry in Canada. Aquaculture includes the farming of finfish, shellfish, aquatic plants (kelp, seaweed), and other species (sea cucumbers, sea urchins, etc.)

Volume 1 provided background and an overview on aquaculture in Canada, setting out regulatory differences in various provinces (BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, PEI and Quebec) and at the federal level. For each jurisdiction, it provided a profile of the industry and how it is governed. It also provided a summary of two reports on the economic repercussions of aquaculture and one on challenges and opportunities of the industry in Canada that were provided to the committee.

Volume 2 looked at two countries where the aquaculture industry is regulated like in Canada: Scotland and Norway. Again, profiles of each industry were provided, as well as the regulatory frameworks and current opportunities and challenges. There was also a comparison between these two countries’ aquaculture industries and Canada’s. Findings included that Canada’s aquaculture industry is more diversified than the other two countries, but that Scotland and Norway enjoy national legislation governing the industry. While sea lice and escapes were mentioned as common challenges for all three countries, Canada also experienced other disease outbreaks.

Volume 3 set out the case for growing the aquaculture industry in Canada.  It considered environmental issues and looked at how Canada can support the growth of the aquaculture industry. Its main finding was that there is tremendous room for growth in Canada’s aquaculture industry and production could double over the next decade. It provided recommendations touching on legislative and regulatory frameworks, how to keep farmed fish and their ecosystems healthy, what further research and development was needed, how to obtain social licence for expansion of the industry and how best to report to the public.

Impact:

The report garnered significant interest, especially in coastal provinces. The chair of the committee, the Honourable Fabian Manning, wrote a letter to the St John’s Telegram detailing findings from the report. Articles on the report also appeared in the Globe and Mail, CBC News, Annapolis Valley Spectator, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Western Star, the Aurora, the Hill Times, Canadian Manufacturing, Victoria Times Colonist, the Navigator, and Aquafeed. Some of the articles reported on environmental groups raising concerns about the report. The recommendations in the report were, however, supported by the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

Aquaculture is mentioned as part of the new Ocean Supercluster, which is an industry-led consortium, with partners from post-secondary institutions, Indigenous communities and international partners. It received funding from the federal government for superclusters and will benefit from part of $950 million announced in February 2018.


The Management of Atlantic Fish Stocks: Beyond The 200-Mile Limit

Date: February 2007
Committee: Fisheries and Oceans
Chair: Hon. William Rompkey (NL)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Janis G. Johnson (MB
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Committee has undertaken an overall study of the federal government’s new and evolving policy framework for managing Canada’s fisheries and oceans. Among its 11 recommendations, this interim report suggests several reforms to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) which regulates Atlantic fisheries beyond the 200-mile fisheries limit.

The report also states that Canada should support an international moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling outside regulated areas. Such a moratorium could help protect bottom habitat in high-seas areas that have no Regional Fishery Management Organization (RFMO). As well, the report recommends that the government initiate a scientific review and fish stock rebuilding plan, and encourages it to approach the European Union, the other major fishing party in areas regulated by NAFO, for direct discussions on cooperation in strengthening high-seas fishery management.

Impact:

The report and witness testimony on shortcomings in the proposed new NAFO Convention sparked media coverage and controversy.  The government responded with some changes to protect Canada’s interests, but too few to satisfy opponents alerted by the Senate’s study.  The report is now fueling debate on whether, and with what modifications, Canada should approve the new treaty arrangement.


Canada’s New and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans

Date: May 2005
Committee: Fisheries and Oceans
Chair: Hon. Gerald Comeau (NS)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Elizabeth Hubley (PEI)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

As part of its overall study on Canada’s new and evolving policy framework for managing fisheries and oceans, the Committee examined how changes in fisheries policy affect coastal communities and their inhabitants. Initially work focused on ownership in the fisheries, individual catch quotas in the form of “individual quotas” (IQs) and “individual transferable quotas” (ITQs) – a form of private ownership of fish stocks. Attention was also given to the use of ‘trust agreements’ on the Atlantic Coast.

The report also discusses fisheries management regimes in other jurisdictions, such as those in New Zealand. It concludes that the current federal policy framework does not take the need to protect and promote economic well-being of rural and Aboriginal communities on Canada’s maritime coasts into account.  Outlining how the policy needs to be reworked, the report contains 9 recommendations.

Impact:

The Committee’s report helped fuel a push for major licensing reforms by owner-operators.  As the report had highlighted, independent fishermen’s licences were often falling under the control of other interests with deep pockets by means of ‘under-the-table’ agreements.  Efforts to curb this trend came to fruition in 2007 when new licensing regulations were issued. The government formally responded to the Senate in November 2005, promising to increase socio-economic research and analytical capacities during pursuing its Fisheries Management Renewal initiative.

FORESTRY

The Canadian Forest Sector: A Future based on Innovation (2011)
Competing Realities: The Boreal Forest at Risk (1999)


The Canadian Forest Sector: A Future based on Innovation

Date: July 2011
Committee: Agriculture and Forestry
Chair: Hon. Percy Mockler (NB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Fernand Robichaud (NB)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

Canadian lumber has played significant ecological, social and economic roles throughout Canadian history. For example, trees such as the trembling aspen have provided food and shelter for such famously Canadian animals as beavers. A tree called Thuja occidentalis was used medicinally by First Nations and early settlers to protect against scurvy.  And white pine was a mainstay of Canada’s early logging industry, in part because it was the British Navy’s wood of choice for shipbuilding in the late 19th century.  During the 20th century, newsprint and construction markets were major drivers for the industry.  Now, however, international and domestic demand for Canadian lumber is in serious decline.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry examined the current state and future of the forest sector. It identified several factors that have contributed to its recent decline, including a strong Canadian dollar, high energy costs, poor access to credit, US subsidies for the American lumber industry and a stagnant US housing market.  While noting that the federal government cannot revive demand for newsprint or new home construction in the US, the Committee put forward 18 recommendations by which the government could assist the forest sector to take a four-pronged approach to improve its future:

  • increase the market share of wood in the construction industry, particularly in residential and multi-storey sectors;
  • increase the use of wood and wood residue (biomass) as an energy source;
  • adjust the industry’s structure by increasing research and development (R&D), and fostering a culture of innovation among forestry companies; and
  • mitigate the impacts of the forest crisis on communities by funding educational projects, community forests, Aboriginal engagement in forest development and silviculture initiatives.

Impact:

The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), having called upon the government to increase support for the forestry industry, observed that implementing the intent of the Committee’s recommendations would move in that direction.  Two years later, FP Innovations praised the federal government for its intent to invest in forestry R&D.  “Canada can point to innovations such as award-winning cellulose nanocrystal research, multi-storey wooden buildings, and cellulose filaments as clear examples of recent developments.”


Competing Realities: The Boreal Forest at Risk 

Date: June 1999
Committee: Sub-Committee on Boreal Forest
Chair: Hon. Nicholas Taylor (AB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Mira Spivak (MB)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This report examines threats to the boreal forest’s survival, as well as options available to define and modify the footprint humans leave. The Committee solicited advice and experience from the Aboriginal community, the forestry industry, scientists, conservationists, environmentalists, and other users of the forest such as tourists and recreation interests.  The experience of Sweden and Finland was also considered, as they had lost most of their original forests nearly 100 years ago. They have regained production through a form of intensive management of their largely privately-owned forests.  The report makes 35 recommendations covering areas such as:

  • Comprehensive land-use planning;
  • Parks and protected areas;
  • Sustainable industrial development;
  • Wildlife and habitat conservation;
  • Aboriginal rights and title; and
  • Improved data collection and monitoring on the state of the boreal ecosystem.

Impact:

The Senate’s report was critical in creating measurable indicators of success for other organizations to build upon.  For example, in December 2003, the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework was established. Also in 2003, the Canadian Boreal Initiative issued The Boreal Forest at Risk: A Progress Report which rated progress as follows:

No progress on comprehensive land-use planning.

  • Some progress on establishing parks and protected areas:
  • new sites (147,000 km2)
  • although 6 new national parks had been proposed, none were created.  However, 10 were planned (some in boreal ecosystems)
  • funding for existing national parks had been increased
  • Little progress on sustainable industrial development:
    • industry (but not government) had made some progress on voluntary certification of forests
  • Little progress on wildlife and habitat conservation:
    • the 2002 Species at Risk Act was passed, but on federal lands only
    • no protection of old-growth forests yet
  • Little progress on Aboriginal rights and title:
    • in March 2003, the federal government announced increased and extended funding for the First Nations Forestry Program, committing $6.5 million per year until 2008
  • Some progress on improved data collection and monitoring of the state of the boreal ecosystem:
    • Canadian Information System for the Environment (CISE)

In 2005, the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) produced an updated status report, The Boreal in the Balance: Securing the Future of Canada’s Boreal Region.   The CBI again acknowledged the Senate’s foundational work, enumerated current initiatives and recommended 17 priorities for further action.