Mr. John Parry (Kenora-Rainy River):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today on Bill C-24. However, it is a pleasure which I would rather forgo, because in a sense I am an alumnus of the energy conservation programs which were established in 1981. I lived in a house which had been reinsulated under CHIP by the previous owner. I also took advantage of the program to upgrade a second house. I have a warm feeling for the program which dissipates when I look at the proposal to eliminate these programs.
CHIP provided for the upgrading of insulation in homes. It was an effort to conserve the precious resources of oil and petroleum products which have done so much to contribute to the economic development of Canada, and to our comfort, both in the home and in the workplace. Of course, those resources have Finite limits and must be conserved if our children and our children's children are to benefit from those resources.
The Canadian Oil Substitution Program is one of which I have not been able to take advantage. At one point my wife and I thought about taking advantage of the program, but we realized that an election would be held in a matter of months and, therefore, conserved our Financial resources. Nevertheless, I feel in a sense that I am an alumnus of the program, the termination of which we are now debating.
What were the benefits of the Canadian Oil Substitution Program and the Canadian Home Insulation Program? According to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Canada is saving approximately 42,000 barrels of oil per day, or 15.3 million barrels per year, as a result of
COSP. That is enough oil to heat 650,000 homes a year. It represents an energy saving of approximately 2.8 per cent of the country's total oil consumption.
Under COSP, a household which converts from oil can expect a return on the investment in a period of two to three years. However, the benefits of COSP were not limited to the saving of oil. Naturally, there was a reduction in the oil bill, but there was a stimulative effect on the awareness, consciousness and understanding of people in the country with respect to energy conservation.
I must take issue with the Hon. Member for Nepean-Carle-ton (Mr. Tupper) who seemed to believe that this particular egg preceded the chicken. I know from my own experience that until the federal Government established these programs and the Financial incentives and information which were included with the application packages, I was not aware of the potential for energy saving which they have promoted and realized. Of course, it is all very well for those who were professionally engaged in that field to say that the knowledge always existed. However, the communication of the knowledge to the people who were making the decisions-in this case, the home owners of Canada-was crucial. That knowledge was given a real impetus with the introduction of COSP and CHIP.
The effects of the elimination of COSP and CHIP will be considerable. I was surprised to hear some Members of the House addressing this matter without raising the effects that the elimination of the programs will have on employment in Canada. In terms of 1979 dollars, for every $1 million spent on the Canadian Oil Substitution Program, 30.5 person-years of employment were created. As a result of the grants alone, 16,750 person-years of employment were created between 1981 and 1985. If that figure is combined with the expenditures by householders and home owners, the figure comes to over 50,000 person-years of employment for the same period. OfFicials at the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, have stated that if COSP had lasted for its planned duration through 1990, S650 million would have been spent on the program and a rough estimate of the employment lost in that period by the elimination of the program would be 59,000 person-years.
These Figures, Mr. Speaker, are serious. They are serious in good times but they are doubly serious in times of rising unemployment when it is extremely difFicult for youth to get their First job and the necessary training. One of the advantages of this program which I saw at First hand was that it enabled young people to work as assistants to retroFitters and
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Oil Substitution Act
upgraders and to learn some of the skills which were involved. By comparison with expenditures on oil exploration, the investment in the Canada Oil Substitution Program and the Canadian Home Insulation Program were vastly more productive in terms of the creation of jobs.
I am sure Hon. Members on the government side will say that I am suggesting that oil exploration should cease in Canada; far from it. We have to recognize that through such loopholes as superdepletion, the PetroCan presence in frontier areas and the subsidization and financing assistance given to some of the high rollers in that industry-which have now come a cropper-the federal Government was indeed heavily engaged in that area and certainly not to as good an effect as in the conservation programs which we debate today.
One of the things that concerns me most, and I believe should concern all Hon. Members of this House, is that the energy conservation and substitution industries in this country are being hit with a double-whammy by this Government. On the one hand, we have the elimination of the CHIP and COSP programs; on the other hand, what do we have in terms of the innovative alternative energy programs which were introduced during the last Government? We have the same picture, Mr. Speaker. We have the elimination of those programs so that those who are looking at this sector for their main means of employment and livelihood are going to find that the upgrading and retrofitting is being shrunk back and that it is far more difficult to get work in terms of alternate energy programs which were financed through the National Research Council.
I remember watching on television, I suppose, slightly over five years ago now, a former Minister of Finance of Canada saying that there was a necessity to inflict, or, shall we say, subject oneself to, short-term pain for long-term gain. By the elimination of the COSP and CHIP programs, we are indeed going to find ourselves in a position of accepting short-term gain for long-term pain. In my opinion, that is indicative of a reversal of policy by the Progressive Conservative Party over the years.
We must remember, after all, that oil is a finite resource; it isn't going to be there forever. We are taking it out of the ground and the more we take out the less there is left, no matter how fast we find it. We may indeed, Mr. Speaker, be reaching the end of what was known as the "elastic horizon". The observation was made as early as the 1930s in the U.S. Congress that every 10 years there was a cycle whereby the oil companies came to Congress and said that the reserves were running out and three years later the proven reserves had doubled. We have to recognize that, like the frog on the lily pad which doubles in area every second day, the lily pad will eventually cover the whole pond and the pool of Canadian oil reserves will eventually be depleted no matter how much is found through new exploration efforts. The National Energy Board, after all, predicts that production of conventional oil 20 years from now will have declined to 28 per cent of the current level.
Let us look at what that means. Does it mean, for example, that each of us is only going to do one quarter as much driving? Does it mean that we are going to heat our homes to an average of 45 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the average 68 degrees we heat them to today? Certainly there will be new oil discovered in the frontier areas and certainly we are going to see further technological advances in the upgrading of oil sands and heavy oil deposits, but in many cases the production costs of those resources are prohibitively high and they are located in highly environmentally-sensitive areas.
The Canadian Oil Substitution Program and the Canadian Home Insulation Program represented common sense investments by the Government in Canada's future energy security, and I think it would be a great shame if they were entirely eliminated. I would also like to mention a few of the effects of the deadlines set in the elimination of those programs. My belief is that those deadlines were set simply by a reference to a calendar and with very little consideration of what was going to happen to Canadians as a result. The deadline of March 31, 1985, for large parts of this country-not, of course, the most intensively inhabited parts but the large geographical areas of this country where many Canadians live-means it would be impossible for a person to do in-ground installation and get in the program under the deadline. If that was a calculation on the part of the Government, and I hope it was not, then it was a cynical move.
I wonder, in looking at the elimination of this program, how much of it is owned to the pressure and influence of Canada's oil-producing provinces. I wonder if indeed we are seeing the effects of powerful interests in the Progressive Conservative Party which view conservation as a competitor for the resources which fill their slush-I am sorry, heritage-funds, and which give them the funds to make their governments go the way they want them to. We should look at evaluating the effect of the elimination of these programs on the world energy supply situation. The beauty, of course, of refined petroleum products as an energy source is their portability, their extreme flexibility. They cannot indefinitely or infinitely be substituted for by hydro-electric resources which this country is better endowed with. Thus the need to conserve them, because, after all, the countries which can supply the shortfall which Canada will inevitably have can also supply the shortfalls that other countries are experiencing, and which they may be better able to finance than Canada as we begin the 21st century.
There was no evaluation done on the Canadian Oil Substitution Program. There have been suggestions that middle and upper middle-income Canadians benefited disproportionately from this program. The figures indeed suggest that that is not the case. The total CHIP grant money given to low-income households was higher than that given to middle and high-income groups; 24.3 per cent of CHIP dollars were given to the 21.1 per cent of eligible home owners earning less than $15,000 annually. Of course, when we consider the tax effects,
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we find that an even higher proportion went to eligible home owners in the low-income range. Therefore, it was certainly not a discriminatory program in the sense of favouring the wealthy rather than the less well off.
From 1977 to 1982 insulation activities under CHIP constituted 43 per cent of all retrofitting work done. It is said that 65 per cent of the work done would not have been done if it were not for CHIP and that 75 per cent of all dollars would not have been spent without the CHIP Program.
What will the effect on our country be if these programs are simply eliminated as the Government proposes? I think a large part of the effect will be what is known as the shuffle down, of which we have seen far too much in Canadian society over the past few years. This is where a program is instituted at one level of government, is abandoned, and the levels of government below the level which instituted it find that program to be so necessary that they decide to carry on a replica of the program at their own level of government.
I can see, for example, that with the elimination of this program many provinces, municipalities and utilities will bring in similar programs to encourage conservation. In the sense that the torch of conservation will not be dropped and extinguished, which this legislation envisages, that is good. In the sense that Canadians will end up paying, because of the fragmentation of the program, a higher price for the very laudable, legitimate and essential objectives of these two programs, that will be a loss to Canada.
Subtopic: OIL SUBSTITUTION AND CONSERVATION ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO AMEND