Tuesday 15 December 1998
Professional Foresters Act, 1998, Bill 71, Mr Ramsay / Loi de 1998 sur les forestiers professionnels, projet de loi 71, M. Ramsay
Canadian Institute of Forestry
Mr Bruce Ferguson
Ontario Professional Foresters' Association
Mr Alec Denys
Mr David Curtis
Westwind Forest Stewardship
Mr John Walker
Mr Jim Lopez
Ontario Forestry Association
Mr Rick Monzon
Grant Forest Products
Mr Bob Fleet
Mr François Dumoulin
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Chair / Présidente
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand PC)
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND)
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North / -Nord PC)
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North / -Nord L)
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph PC)
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent L)
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls PC)
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton PC)
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East / -Est ND)
Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming L)
Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener PC)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa PC)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Viktor Kaczkowski
Staff / Personnel
Mr Lewis Yeager, research officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 1534 in committee room 1.
PROFESSIONAL FORESTERS ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LES FORESTIERS PROFESSIONNELS
Consideration of Bill 71, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry / Projet de loi 71, Loi concernant la réglementation de l'exercice de la profession de forestier.
The Chair (Mrs Brenda Elliott): Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the standing committee on resources development. We are here this afternoon for the purpose of attending to presentations on Bill 71, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry. We're going to begin our afternoon with a brief presentation from the sponsor of the bill, Mr Ramsay.
Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I just want to take a few minutes first of all to thank the House leaders of all three parties for allowing this private member's initiative to get to this stage. That's really great, for a legislator to be able to bring a bill this far and now have some public comment on it. I'm very pleased with that.
I also want to say that, having listened to the second-reading speeches in the House, tomorrow when we do clause-by-clause I have prepared three amendments that I think will address concerns that both the ministry and some members in the House have expressed. I want members to know that. I'm certainly very open to any other concerns that might be expressed today in hearings and that might come up tomorrow.
The other thing is I understand our next presenter, Monte Hummel, representing the World Wildlife Fund Canada, will not be able to be here, but I believe all of you have a letter from him that says he continues to support this legislation.
That's all I have. I appreciate the committee's work on this and look forward to a good afternoon.
CANADIAN INSTITUTE OF FORESTRY
The Chair: As you have rightfully noted, the World Wildlife Fund Canada is unable to present today, but I understand we can begin with representatives from the Canadian Institute of Forestry. Please come forward and make yourself comfortable. You will have 15 minutes for presentation time. You may use that as you see fit, but we always hope you'll leave time for questions. When you are ready to begin, please introduce yourself for the Hansard record. Welcome.
Mr Bruce Ferguson: It has been suggested of me that I keep this brief and to the point, so I will not take nearly the 15 minutes. If you do have any questions, please feel welcome.
Thank you for this opportunity of appearing before you on this worthwhile bill. The Canadian Institute of Forestry is a national organization of foresters and other forestry-related professionals, who would like to extend their support to the Ontario Professional Foresters Association in its quest to become a licensing institution.
My name is Bruce Ferguson. I'm a registered professional forester in Ontario since 1975 and I am currently first vice-president of the Canadian Institute of Forestry in Canada. Our head office is in Ottawa, on Slater Street.
I'll give you a brief description of the CIF, for those of you who are not familiar with it. The CIF-Institut forestier du Canada is a truly national organization, with 23 sections across Canada, including the Yukon. There are seven sections in Ontario. We have approximately 2,400 members in the institute, who are foresters, forest technicians, educators, scientists, researchers, and other forest-related professionals, such as forest ecologists and biologists, who are members as well. Many of the foresters are in fact registered professional foresters in their applicable provinces.
The CIF is a member of the Canadian Federation of Professional Foresters Associations and is currently secretariat to the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board. We look after the criteria for six accredited bachelor of science-forestry programs in universities across Canada.
The mission of the institute is fourfold: To advance the stewardship of Canada's forest resources, to provide national leadership in forestry, to promote competency among our forestry professionals and to foster public awareness of not only Canadian but international forestry issues. On the international side, for instance, we have had joint ventures with CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, and we have hosted several forester delegations from around the world -- in recent years a couple of delegations from China.
The CIF, like many national organizations of professionals, has a code of ethics. We undertake a bachelor of science-forestry recognition program for those who are graduating each year. We hand out something on the order of 240 silver rings, which we wear normally on the small finger of our right hand, and at our national conference and annual general meeting we hand out achievement awards for a number of special purposes, such as forestry achievement, scientific achievement, international forestry achievement awards etc.
We also contribute to other organizations, such as the professional foresters association and the national continuing education program. We have a voluntary credit system of staying current with emerging knowledge in forestry. We publish the Forestry Chronicle, which is the only national forestry journal in Canada. We currently have about 16 working groups working on various position papers on such topics as forest policy, forest health, fire and so on.
We are currently, as we were five years ago, a co-signatory to the National Forest Strategy, which was re-signed and extended for five years last spring in Ottawa. We are committed to several elements of that strategic plan; we have devised our own strategic plan to assist in that capacity. We're also a member of the International Union of Societies of Foresters, of which we're the second-largest member, obviously behind the US.
To come to the point, the local section membership and national office have been very active over the years in support of the creation of professional foresters' associations across Canada in each of the provinces. The southern Ontario section members were very instrumental in the original bill preparation for the Ontario Professional Foresters Association in 1957 and, most recently, were successful in creating an RPF association in Newfoundland and are currently working with our members in Manitoba.
Clearly, as others have probably told you in previous hearings, professional forestry has matured from purely scientific management of our forests to one that requires long-term sustainability not only ecologically but socially and economically. Many of the forest management plans that you'll see prepared across Canada, and in Ontario in particular, include many aspects of wildlife habitat planning, future forest condition, protection of natural heritage areas and so on.
All of this must stand up to the rigours of public scrutiny. The public must receive the best professionalism we can deliver as foresters. The public must not only respect the advice of forestry professionals, but must be satisfied that the highest standards are in place and are enforced. Many of the Environics and Decima polls you've seen in the past about environmental issues indicate that the public is by and large very respectful of foresters' opinions, but at the same time those standards have to be in place and it must be known to the public that they're enforceable. The forests of Ontario are far too valuable to be left attended by anything less than the best of what society can expect. That's not only locally and nationally, but on the world stage we have this obligation.
Therefore, the executive and the members of the CIF across Canada wish to extend our support to the Ontario Professional Foresters Association in its request to become a stronger association of professionals through licensing privileges, because the public has the right to expect the highest standards from foresters in Ontario.
The Chair: We have three minutes for questions from each caucus. We'll begin with the government caucus.
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Thank you, sir, for coming in and making your views known regarding this particular bill.
I have in front of me a letter from the president of the World Wildlife Fund, Mr Monte Hummel, in which he seems to be pretty vigorous in his contention that this particular bill doesn't satisfy his concerns or the World Wildlife Fund Canada's concerns about the intent of the bill to conserve forests. I quote one particular section, the summation:
"These may seem like very negative questions, but I assure you I'm asking them because I do strongly believe in licensing professional foresters. If the OPFA is going to do that, however, you must do it in a way that definitely includes the conservation of forests," and he goes on to elaborate on that point.
Would you agree with his submission at all, or would you fundamentally disagree or would you say the bill does satisfy the concerns of conserving forests?
Mr Ferguson: If I understand his comments, I would disagree. I would think the majority of foresters in Canada, especially those who are registered professional foresters, believe wholeheartedly in the conservation of forests. That's inclusive of not only managing the forests for social purposes, whether it's timber production, wildlife and whatnot, but also the protection of natural heritage areas, parks and so forth for scientific interests and so on.
Mr Hastings: You'd reassert that your primary function is forestry conservation as much as management.
Mr Ferguson: Definitely; very much so. Our definition of "conservation" is the wise management and use of forests.
Mr Hastings: Why do you think he would make such an assertion, sir? Because he notes also in his letter that he owns a privately managed forest operation.
Mr Ferguson: I really can't answer that. I don't know. I believe that the vast majority of Canadian foresters, even though we're few in number compared to some places, like the Americans and Scandinavian countries, on a unit area, are dedicated to Canadian forest conservation. I think we show world leadership in that regard. Any of the countries that we have had delegations from or spoken to have thought very highly of how forestry is practised in Canada.
At a recent annual meeting in British Columbia last year, we had about 17 countries represented at the national conference, and without a doubt every one of them commented on how they thought things were very well managed in Canada and they were surprised at the sophistication of our profession.
Mr Ramsay: I'm actually glad Mr Hastings brought that up, because this is one of the concerns that has been expressed. One of my amendments I think will go a long way to helping to satisfy that concern tomorrow, when I will talk about and add to the first purpose of the bill, that not only is the bill to promote and increase the knowledge, skill and proficiency of the members and things relating to forestry, but to do that, I'll add, "in order that the public interest may be served and protected."
As we've just heard from this presentation, the management of forestry has become a big public issue over the last 20 years, where it really wasn't that much before that. The vast majority of Ontarians and Canadians are very concerned, as they should be, about their forests. It's our heritage. It's a big identifier of who we are in this country. We are a forest nation for sure, and it's very important that the public have confidence that there are professionals in charge of making the decisions of how the forest should be managed. I think that's important.
Do you think this bill will help satisfy that public need and give them some confidence that it is professional foresters who are carrying out this work and that our forests are in good hands?
Mr Ferguson: I believe so. We have looked at this issue of going the licensing route a number of times over the years and have always been a supporter and advocate of it. It's very important that the public have the knowledge that there is an enforceable set of standards there, and peer review, that illustrates that we're dedicated and it is not our own self-interest or a company's self-interest or whatever, that we're providing the best current scientific advice on how to best manage and conserve our forests.
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Thank you for coming in today. I'm just going to go to the last page and ask you a question about the comments you raised, which is that you're supporting the request, "to become a stronger association...through licensing...because the public has the right to expect the highest standards." You will know that already the Ontario association has what they have defined as a soft certification process. There are disciplinary measures in place already; there can be a removal of the certificate to practise. There are a number of educational initiatives that have always been in place to ensure people's expertise.
What is it about licensing itself as a mechanism that you believe will make the association stronger and, secondly, will give the public greater confidence in the work that professional foresters are doing?
Mr Ferguson: I guess my answer right now would be the same for both. I would suggest that our perception as professional foresters to a lot of the public is that if you are licensed, then there's greater credibility that you are meeting standards and staying current with the current knowledge and science and social aspects of practising forestry in Canada or in Ontario.
I think the whole association will evolve in the next few years. This won't happen overnight. But at the same time, I think there will be a growing interest in the public in what foresters are doing and how they're practising, whether they have the skills and knowledge and the support, whether it's the companies or government that are managing our forests.
The Chair: We appreciate you taking the time to come before us this afternoon and giving us your advice on this bill.
Mr Ferguson: Thank you. I appreciated the opportunity.
ONTARIO PROFESSIONAL FORESTERS' ASSOCIATION
The Chair: I now call representatives from the Ontario Professional Foresters' Association, please. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Alec Denys: I'm pleased to address the standing committee on resources development today. I am Alec Denys, a registered professional forester and also the president of the Ontario Professional Foresters' Association.
Ontarians have recently come to realize that their forests are unable to meet the demands from all the users of the forest. We have witnessed this in the class environmental assessment for timber management in the late 1980s and currently with the Lands for Life initiative.
With this situation, we can expect to see a trend towards the introduction of politics into forest management as opposed to just pure science. By this, I mean the interested parties are using incomplete science and selective science to justify their interests.
What Ontario needs is a strong, self-governing professional forestry association to act as an honest broker with respect to forest science that's used in public debates. This is what we feel licensing can do. Also, once land use decisions are made, Ontario needs the highest standards of practice and sound forest management science to ensure that those forests are sustained.
Under the current legislation, the Ontario Professional Foresters' Association is constrained in strengthening professional standards and increasing the accountability of those who manage the forests. This speaks to the question that Shelley Martel had. Ontario needs to increase its reach so that all those practising the profession of forestry are subject to the same high standards. Currently, the association is a volunteer association.
Also, the threat of having a licence revoked is a significant incentive to remaining professionally responsible to both the public and the association, whereas the current decertification would not have that same threat and incentive. Licensing, with increased accountability and openness to the public, will increase a forester's sense of duty to the public interest. Also, it will provide foresters themselves with a strong foundation and a support structure, so that they can independently exercise their professional skill and judgment. Licensing provides the public with assurance of high standards and qualified practitioners who are accountable for their results to the public.
In preparing this legislation, over 90 organizations were approached for comments. No organization was against the proposal, but we did hear and address the following concerns:
One of these concerns was to ensure that the public interest is the focus of licensing and not the gratification of the association or its members. This is clearly enunciated in the amendment that Mr Ramsay talked about and is in response to that; as well, it's throughout the legislation.
We heard that we shouldn't try to control or be seen to control the marketplace for forest workers. We've done this again in our scope of practice. We've limited it to where there is a definite need for professional skilled expertise that is available only from foresters. For instance, this legislation does not affect forest technicians, it does not affect ecologists from doing their work in the forest. It recognizes only where there is a special need for forestry expertise.
We heard that we were to be sensitive to those who are currently working and practising forestry where they would be affected by the scope of practice. We've introduced grandparenting guidelines to ensure that no one will be disrupted from the work they're currently doing. At the same time, under those grandparenting guidelines, those who are practising will have to practise according to the same high standards that we set for the professional foresters, for licensed foresters.
Last, we heard to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum, both for government and for business interests. Again, we've done this, working with legislative counsel to structure the act so that there are no regulations, that most of the business of the association will be conducted through the use of bylaws to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum.
In 1997, the association members voted 81% in favour of seeking licensing and accepted a doubling of their membership dues to support organizational change to incorporate the requirements of a licensing body. The association, over the past two years, has begun to prepare for this initiative.
The association has sought licensing legislation two times since I began my career as a registered professional forester some 20 years ago. Over that time period, I have seen the perception of our forests change from one of an abundant supply that could be sustained to the realization today that the demands for the use of the forest from competing interests exceed the supply.
The class environmental assessment for timber management wrestled with this concern and urged the strengthening of forester involvement in the management of the province's forests. In 1995, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act increased the role of registered professional foresters in the management of crown forests over that which was required under the old Crown Timber Act.
There is a significant risk of harm to the forest resource and hence the public interest if forestry is not practised based on sound science and high standards of practice.
It is in the public interest to restrict the practice of professional forestry to those who are bound by professional standards and are accountable both to their peers and to the public for their actions and results.
As society's values change, the profession must evolve. It is my belief that now there is a compelling public interest for the licensing of professional foresters.
Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much for your presentation. I think you really touched upon a lot of the areas that are very important for members to focus in on why this bill is timely now. Whether one likes it or not, the direction has been in this industry that the industry take more responsibility for its work and moving away from government supervision to more industry self-regulation.
I think with that there has been a concern in many parts of society and with many interest groups about the health and viability of the forests and how they're going to be managed, if you give more responsibility to the industry and do not have that government supervision. It seems to me that's why this bill is timely, to bring more accountability to the professional who is now being charged with the management of the forest. Would you agree with that, that that's a good reason why this should come forward now?
Mr Denys: Yes. Clearly, the licensing of professional foresters at this time, as I said, provides a support structure so that regardless of whether you're working for industry, the government or some other profession, you have a support structure within the association that will support you in making the right decisions, in sticking to sound forest principles as opposed to some other business interests that may become involved.
Also, your actions are going to be more open to the public. You're accountable to the public because the public can see exactly the type of decisions you're making, as well as the peers.
Mr Ramsay: Could you elaborate a little more on what you mean by the support structure? In a sense, are you saying that by doing this we're giving the forester more confidence in standing for his or her professional decisions on how the forest should be managed? Is that what you're getting at?
Mr Denys: That's right, exactly. It gives them the confidence to stand there and the confidence so they know that their peers will support them in the decisions they take.
Ms Martel: Thank you, Alec, for the presentation. Tell me, the disciplinary measures that are in place at the association now, is there any public involvement?
Mr Denys: No. Right now, in the disciplinary procedures there's no public involvement. Under the new licensing proposal, there will be public involvement in both the complaints and investigations area and in the discipline area.
Ms Martel: The public becomes involved in another way in terms of reinforcing your accountability because they're going to be directly involved in at least two of the very important committees.
Mr Denys: That's right. As well, they will have membership on the council itself.
Ms Martel: I don't want to say the licensing issue is rather late, but we have de facto movement towards this now because, as you've already explained, it was certainly recommended in the class EA. But under the changes in the Crown Forest Sustainability Act in 1995, your sign-off is that much more important now than it was under the old Crown Timber Act. Where we are is really at the next logical step, for foresters in the province to be given that additional responsibility of licensing, discipline, accreditation standards etc. Would you agree?
Mr Denys: That's right, exactly.
Ms Martel: You mentioned the consultation process that you went through. Because I received the newsletter over two years, I had a chance to watch that debate in the newsletter. As the debate went on, the articles that were set aside grew as well, as you had continued consultation.
Do you feel quite confident, given the extensive consultation and given the work that the committee did, that the issues that would have been of concern or were of concern, even to members, have been addressed and that you come to the government now, or come to all members, with a proposal that by and large has quite unanimous support? Except for the amendments that David will move tomorrow, which should deal with Monte Hummel's concerns, by and large, you have addressed over that two-year period concerns of members and the public and other attached associations that this is the right way to go and the reasons why?
Mr Denys: That's right. It's been a process, as you say, that's gone on over two years. We have redrafted and drafted the act quite a few number of times to address those concerns. We're quite confident that what we have now is an excellent piece of legislation that will lead to a licensing body that will in fact serve the public interest.
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Thank you very much for your presentation. In subsection 3(2) of the bill, I want to talk about exclusions.
"The practice of professional forestry does not include acts performed in relation to the management or manipulation of forests if they are performed,
"(a) personally by individuals on land which they own and they do not affect the safety, health or welfare of the general public or the property of others."
Who determines that? Do you know? I know you've been involved in this process for quite some time. My question might be better directed to David. Who determines whether or not the forestry work someone wants to do on their own property is going to affect the safety, health or welfare of the general public?
Mr Denys: Generally, I think the way the process would work is there would be a complaint with respect to an operation that would be brought to the attention of the association. We would have to investigate and determine if those conditions were met or were violated and then proceed from there.
Mr Maves: The association would at that point be called in and make a determination whether or not this person should continue to do the forestry that they're doing on their own property?
Mr Denys: That's right. There's not going to be any notification type of process. If you're going to do forestry work and if you're exempt, you're exempt. The onus is on the owner to ensure that he's exempt based on the conditions of his exemption. He has to determine whether or not he is going to violate public safety, public interest.
Mr Maves: If it's determined that they believe the forestry that's being done by an individual who owns this property may be against the general welfare or the property of others, that landowner, he or she, will then be forced to employ a licensed member of the foresters' association or cease and desist from forestry?
Mr Denys: Yes. They would have to employ a licensed professional. Once we've determined that the exemption no longer applies, then yes, they would have to employ a licensed professional forester to continue to do that work and make the remedies.
Mr Maves: What happens in other provinces currently? Are the professional foresters' associations licensing bodies also?
Mr Denys: The two other largest forestry provinces, British Columbia and Quebec, both have licensed professional foresters in those situations.
Mr Hastings: Sir, I'm a little perplexed by the great parade with which people come before these committees regarding the establishment of new organizations. Please take this in the broadest sense of sincerity.
Mr Ramsay has in this bill sections dealing with the disclosure of bad boys and girls who might foul up in their practice and standards of forestry. There's a discipline committee and there's a registrar and the whole structure. We have that sort of thing under the Regulated Health Professions Act with all the colleges regarding their concerns.
I'm never absolutely convinced that the public is totally confident in these organizations, including your own, which is about to probably get passed, regarding the disclosure of somebody who fouls up as a professional forester. It's very clear in here, if you look at subsection 32(7), that the discipline committee may publish the name or some of the data regarding a person who has run afoul of the professionalism of this proposed organization.
I'm wondering whether you are comfortable with that particular provision of "may." If you're arguing that we need this organization for greater enhancement of professional accountability etc, then the public wants to have the capacity of understanding that there will be disclosure of a person who fouls up and gets themselves into trouble, should that ever occur. I don't know what the circumstances would be, but obviously, because Mr Ramsay has that structure in place, you must be anticipating that it could occur.
Do you feel comfortable with that particular provision on the disclosure of the investigation and the resolution of a discipline case before the discipline committee of your proposed organization?
Mr Denys: I know that the use of the terms "may" and "shall" are very much part of the drafting of legislation. Dave Curtis is here, who drafted this legislation. If I may defer that question to him, maybe he could explain why we chose to use that term "may."
Mr Hastings: It gives you a large ambit.
Mr Denys: This is David Curtis, who is a registered professional forester. As well as that, he is educated as a lawyer.
Mr David Curtis: Thank you, good to be here. I hope I can provide some assistance.
The general practice in this kind of thing is to make sure that the names are publicized. I think the statute is drafted around the need to protect the public interest. The presumption is that the names will be put out.
The committee needs to have the flexibility for situations that may violate the rights of the individual who comes before it. If there are cases where their own personal safety may be affected or if a case has not been completely decided, putting someone's name out -- procedural provisions such as this that we have in the legislation are largely borrowed from existing statutes. This is the practice in Ontario, to do things this way. It simply gives the discipline committee the capability to protect the individual's rights when the need arises.
As I said, we have to be open with this. The hearings will be open, to the extent possible. There is a member of the public on the discipline committee and this sort of thing. That is the presumption.
Mr Hastings: But the presumption is to protect the rights of the individual here.
Mr Curtis: Well, the --
Mr Hastings: But you trot it out. I've seen this with other organizations that were enhancing and advancing the public interest. I think what's happening is the reverse. If you'd simply say it's for the protection of the individual rights of the person being disciplined, I'd understand that. I think you're cloaking it -- I mean this in all sincerity; I've seen it with another organization -- as enhancing the public interest. I don't think it does personally. I think it protects the rights of the individuals, which needs to be done, but it doesn't say that in the bill as far as I can read.
The Chair: I'm going to interrupt. That's our time. Thank you for coming to give assistance to answer that question, and thank you very much for your presentation.
WESTWIND FOREST STEWARDSHIP
The Chair: We now call representatives from Westwind Forest Stewardship, please. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee. When you're ready to begin, please start by introducing yourself for the Hansard record.
Mr John Walker: Thank you for the opportunity to make a presentation. My name is John Walker and I'm the manager of an incorporated, not-for-profit, community-based organization headquartered in Parry Sound.
Westwind is a holder of a sustainable forest licence issued by the Minister of Natural Resources for an area known as the French Severn Forest. Our licence covers the crown land between the French River in the north, the Severn River in the south, Georgian Bay to the west and Algonquin Park to the east.
Westwind was incorporated in April 1997, and following a year of negotiating and business planning was issued the sustainable forest licence in May of this year.
Westwind, as an SFL holder, is unique in all of Ontario in that we are a not-for-profit company. The board of directors is predominantly members selected from the public of the Parry Sound and Muskoka area. The minority of the board membership is comprised of individuals recommended by the variety of large and small forestry companies that harvest wood in our area. I would say that we're truly an alternate delivery mechanism.
As holders of the SFL, our responsibilities include all forest management planning requirements, all forest operations plant compliance activities, all forest renewal activities and the collection and reporting of a variety of forest and related values information. These responsibilities are all legislated under the conditions of our licence by the Crown Forest Sustainability Act which, as you know, received royal assent almost exactly four years ago.
All of the costs of delivering these responsibilities are borne by the forest operators in our area. As I mentioned, they range from big players such as Tembec and Domtar to very small family businesses whose livelihood is dependent on their ability to sustain harvesting operations in an affordable way.
As you well know, our very location in the province, and the fact that we're three to four hours from a population of seven million Ontarians and northern Americans, presents a fishbowl opportunity or challenge, if there ever was one.
The reasons Westwind is extremely interested in the passage of Bill 71, respecting the regulation of the practice of professional forestry, are several. Taking off from Mr Ramsay's question, being a not-for-profit and community-based group, we feel somewhat vulnerable from time to time with regard to "big government and big industry." I emphasize the quotes because I don't use that in a derogatory sense but primarily to compare big government, big industry with a small organization such as ours.
We don't have the resources to do anything but rely on sound professional judgment and experience of the foresters from within our own staff, government bureaucracies and private industry. Having all practitioners of the profession in a regulated, licensed environment will surely level the playing field for small organizations such as our unique venture. The appropriate checks and balances will be more assured than at present.
The practice of forestry is both an art and a science. I know this first-hand from my personal experience over the past 30 years. You are all aware of many of the controversies surrounding our practice. Indeed, the current Lands for Life initiative is serving to once again remind us of these issues. I also know from first-hand experience that the type of forestry practices introduced in our forests by the professionals from the Ministry of Natural Resources are second to none in the world. Continuing incorporation of best science, along with a host or a core of people having 20 or more years' local experience, has led to this world-class status, yet the controversies continue.
We as an organization know that education, show-and-tell, field trips and so on are the best way to demonstrate to the public that we are professionals, that we know what we're doing. Indeed we, and I speak on behalf of the board of directors in Westwind, have initiated a series of local seminars which are becoming sold out as we announce them. In this regard, we as foresters wish to have, and I personally feel we deserve to have, the recognition that a regulated licensing function will bring. I further believe that over time such a mechanism will go a long way to bringing understanding and thus acceptance to the profession. Consequently, a less confrontational environment will prevail.
I'm aware of the concern of the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay with respect to Bill 71. Indeed, he kindly shared these with me and other foresters in a letter dated November 27. Mr Grimmett is concerned about limiting participation in the profession, as well as overregulating the forest industry. While I respect these concerns, I don't quite share them in their entirety. Those folks I work with who may not quite meet the established criteria to be licensed by the association nevertheless welcome the move to recognition by way of licensing. Indeed, many of them are anticipating with some eagerness finding out what they will need to do to either broaden their experience or expand their knowledge in order to become recognized. They will finally have something concrete to work for.
With respect to overregulating the industry, I refer back to my earlier point and say again that Westwind, in the Muskoka-Parry Sound region, is committed not only to a healthy forest but a healthy industry. We believe that a regulated licensing system will go a long way to enabling both on the crown forest under our sustainable licence. We're already in our short lifetime gaining some recognition as lobbyists -- those are Mr Grimmett's words -- for both ecologically sustainable forest practices and for a vibrant, healthy, sustainable industry.
Early in 1999, Westwind Forest Stewardship hopes to be the first organization in Ontario, and indeed in Canada, to be associated with the delivery of a variety of forest certification mechanisms under the banner of the internationally recognized Forest Stewardship Council.
Certification is sometimes referred to, as you know, as green stamping. We are pursuing a partnership with the Rain Forest Alliance, who are accredited FSC, Forest Stewardship Council, certifiers. We will also become knowledgeable about, and promoters of, other recognized but different certification systems such as the CSA system and the international standards organization certification system.
Initiating certification into the Ontario forest scene will ensure two things. First, it will benefit our industry's position in an increasingly sensitive global market. Second, and as important, it will significantly contribute to our continuing commitment to sustainable forest practices. The government, in my view, has an opportunity here to support the whole forest certification exercise by passing this bill, thus ensuring our forests and the values contained within and dependent on our forests are being managed by licensed professionals.
The Chair: We have two minutes for questions from each caucus. We'll begin with Ms Martel for the NDP.
Ms Martel: Thank you for coming today. I was curious about your comments with respect to the two benefits of certification, specifically the first one, which was to benefit the industry's position in the global economy. Certainly, as you look at other jurisdictions and how good or how poor their forest practices may be, not only do we put industry at risk but any number of workers and their communities as well, depending on what we're doing. I wonder if you could just elaborate on the advantage that you see for Ontario to be a leader, because of licensing, in the global market with respect to the products that we are putting out there and the value that's attached to them because of the standards and because of the people behind the standards who are practising in our forests.
Mr Walker: I, along with several members of the board of directors, have recently attended some deliberations with the folks in the US who are accredited to deliver certification. It's my belief that if we can add to our tool bag, the fact that our foresters are licensed professionals will go a long way to add a level of credibility to the certification that we will deliver. We will follow the standards as set forth by the international organization, but having that licence will enhance our tool bag relative to our certification.
Certification of forest products is catching on, it really is. It's not necessarily being driven by big industry or by large consumers, but it's being driven by a demand at a grassroots level. Ontario's being in a position to join that certified wood and products stream can do nothing but benefit all of us.
The Chair: To the government.
Mr Maves: Thank you very much for coming and making your presentation. What percentage of forests right now that are forested are crown land, roughly?
Interjection: About 85%.
Mr Walker: I can only speak with certainty about my own forest. In my particular forest that we look after it's about 50%.
Mr Maves: I'll follow up on the question that I asked the previous person. Is there an exclusion to practice for someone who, on their property -- the other 15% -- is doing some forestry? The previous presenter, when I asked this question, said that if someone complains that they think some improper forestry is being practised on that person's own property, then this new association can come in and make a determination, yes or no, as to whether forestry is being practised properly and then tell them that in order to continue, they have to hire someone with a licence. This is my understanding of this. There doesn't appear to be any kind of appeal mechanism. The forestry body that's going to be set up will be, in effect, a police department of forestry which is going to occur on individuals' privately owned properties.
Mr Walker: That was not my understanding of the reading of the bill. I'm sorry. I defer to David, but it's not my understanding that policing on private land would occur, by any stretch. Certainly professional advice could be offered and, in my opinion, it would be up to the owner of the land to take or reject that opinion. In some instances, and in our instance in particular, the regional municipality of Muskoka is attempting to put through a brave bylaw regarding sustainable forestry on private land. Indeed, as that evolves and matures, it may include something like that, but that would not be, in my view, the association's approach to dealing with forestry matters on private land, on a unilateral basis.
Mr Ramsay: It's good to hear about your organization, because as you know and most of us who are very concerned about forestry, as we have forests and forest workers in our ridings, understand, in many areas such as yours and in the areas of Timiskaming and Nipissing that I have interest in, these non-profit or co-operative organizations have been formed now where the forest companies have gotten together and formed these basic co-ops and non-profit organizations to hire a professional team of foresters to do the forestry work for them.
What I think is so interesting about it and so beneficial about the new way is that instead of the competing interests that you used to have and companies trying to beat up the bush for their own species and maybe age classes they particularly needed for their operation, now we can look at the whole forest area and manage the forest for the best of the forest and have a rational direction of wood to the appropriate plant or mill.
It's frustrating for me as a northerner who is beginning to understand this, because I accept those limitations. I'm on a big learning curve. I wish all our school children across this province could go on these open houses and these tours. I wish every Ontarian could do that because we see such inflammatory rhetoric in the media from time to time about how our forests are managed. While I think there were tremendous sins done in the past in this particular industry, as there were in a lot of other industries, we have now come to learn about how we treat the environment with regard to this industry and mining and other resource-extraction industries and do a great job today. I wish we could do more on that educational front. I know the industry is trying to do it. I think through organizations like yours, you're going to be able to accomplish that right at the grassroots level. I commend you for that.
The Chair: On behalf of all members of the committee, I thank you for coming before us this afternoon.
Mr Walker: Thank you for the opportunity.
The Chair: Now calling representatives from Tembec Inc, please. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee. Please begin by introducing yourself for the Hansard record.
Mr Jim Lopez: My name is Jim Lopez. I'm a vice-president for a division of Tembec's forest products group. Personally, I work and live in North Bay, Ontario.
I'd like to tell you for just a minute a little bit about the background of our company so you understand where I'm coming from. I'm here representing a member of the industry, not necessarily the whole industry. Tembec operates 10 mills within Ontario with over 2,500 employees in the province. The company operates a total of 21 mills throughout Canada and has 6,000 employees in the country. The company is currently one of the largest operators on public land throughout eastern Canada, with operations stretching from Manitoba to New Brunswick.
I've worked with the company for over nine years now. I am not a professional forester. I have no affiliation with the OPFA. I'm here today to maybe give you just an industry professional perspective on the legislation in front of you that's being debated.
Our company has been recognized recently by a number of environmental groups as one of the leading forest managers in the province, and we've been recognized in some publications as such. Also, I'd like to point out that Tembec has been one of the first companies within Canada to receive FSC certification, which John Walker discussed earlier, for our forest management practices on private land in Ontario. As such, I'd like to point out that the company is quite proud of our forest management practices. We're quite proud of what we've accomplished, and we're interested in any legislation that's going to continue to advance sustainable forestry throughout Ontario.
First of all, I'd like to make several key points. One is we believe Ontario has one of the most progressive pieces of forest management legislation in the world in the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, a piece of legislation that we believe is second to none in Canada and maybe throughout the entire world. Quite frankly, we think Ontario should be proud of it and boast this piece of legislation, because it bodes well for the future of forest management on public land in this province.
We believe also there is community of foresters in Ontario who are very professional and highly committed to the sustainability of the forests in this province. It's exciting. It's interesting to see the passion that our foresters have for managing the forests while still contributing to positive growth in the forest industry and employment in the forest industry in this province.
The licensing of professional foresters is about establishing some standards for foresters, because these people are on the front line of forest management in this province. Therefore, we think a set of standards should be held up to these people if they are to manage our resources for the future. We believe licensing professional foresters is also another important step in establishing the credibility of Ontario in the critical eye of the world community towards forest management.
As we know, there's increasing public awareness in Ontario, Canada and indeed throughout the world for forest management practices, and there's now increasing accountability on governments and companies to practise sustainable forest management. Companies are increasingly aware of potential boycotts of our product, potential bad publicity, bad advertising by what we call ENGOs throughout our marketplace, threatening the very viability of our operations. So we think it is a time for foresters, companies and indeed the government to become more proactive in ensuring that we hold high standards for forest management practices in our province and that indeed we're proud of them and put those standards forward for the world to see.
As was mentioned earlier, many of the forest management activities over the last several years have now been transferred to sustainable forestry licences, like Westwind and others, and forest products companies. This means we're responsible for planning, tree marking, regeneration and public consultation. As well, there are a number of other activities that used to be carried out by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the past. If we're going to have this happen, we have to make sure that we have professionals carrying out these activities on the front line.
We believe this act would be a measure to help narrow the gap between crown land and private land forest management over the long term. This may be a somewhat controversial statement, but we believe there is a large gap between the management of private land as opposed to crown land. There is no standard for private land management right now in terms of forestry practices. While we are not encouraging the government to legislate this, we are encouraging the government to make sure that there are professional, licensed foresters out there who are available for people who have private woodlots who want to practise forest management on these private woodlots. We think making these professionals available to those individuals would go a long way.
Another point I'd like to make is that it's interesting to note that the debate in Ontario has subtly shifted away from forest management practices to more discussion on protected spaces. Maybe this is what the member was referring to earlier with the letter from Monte Hummel, when he talked about this act falling short in addressing the concerns on protected spaces.
We believe it's a matter of debate that has come out in the Lands for Life process on how much space should be protected from any industrial or commercial activity. It's not a debate on whether the industrial or commercial activity is carried out on crown land sustainably, it's simply a matter of how much should be to the exclusion of that. While some people look at this as a negative type of debate, we look at this as a very positive type of debate, because we're no longer talking about, "Do we have sustainable forest management practices?" We believe that we do, and it's becoming increasingly recognized by the ENGOs that we do also.
I'd like to point out that licensing is not a threat to our company. We do not feel this is going to impede our ability in any way to carry out our business in Ontario. Lastly, we'd like to recommend that the government should proceed with the passing of Bill 71. I'll be happy to take your questions now.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have about two minutes for questions from each caucus. We begin with the government caucus.
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): You mentioned the number of mills you have throughout Ontario and across Canada. What sort of product do you harvest? What do they process?
Mr Lopez: It's an extremely wide variety, from hardwoods like maple, cherry and oak, poplars to all types of conifers, white pine, red pine, spruce, jack pine.
Mr Ouellette: Mostly slicer mills or veneer mills?
Mr Lopez: We have no veneer mills in Ontario; we have one in Quebec.
Mr Ouellette: When you mentioned the words "sustainable forest management," managing forests for different purposes becomes clear. Obviously, for an industry, the type of forests that are managed are quite different from what would be a natural progression, moving from a coniferous to a deciduous forest. What sort of practices do you envision that an association would promote? Some of the concerns are that we're going to only manage to make sure that the industry is self-sustained. Are there other aspects that management would progress with?
Mr Lopez: First of all, I'd like to point out that technically I'm not professionally qualified to address that, so I'll just give you my opinion. When I interact with professional foresters within my company, professional foresters within the government and other professional foresters involved in forest management, I believe there's a very strong, watchful eye there towards making sure that there is fibre available for mills and jobs throughout Ontario. But increasingly important in their eyes is also the management of a balanced ecosystem there. It's just marvellous to talk to them about the types of things we do in going in and planning a particular cut, considering things like goshawks' nests, wildlife habitats of different sorts, to make sure that we are not overly infringing on these habitats.
Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much, Mr Lopez, for your presentation. I think you really hit on the nub of the issue, why a bill such as this is really timely, and that is that the whole forestry debate, as you've said, has really moved away from the discussion of forestry practice to protected spaces. I think that's because there is a general lack of confidence in the population that we are, government and industry, managing the forests properly. Therefore, the uninformed reaction is that, because of that, we have to have more protected spaces; that's the only way to have a sustainable environment, if we just basically rope off more and more land so that industry doesn't get to it.
Those of us who have learned and grown with the industry over the years have seen how the industry has moved to more and more sustainability. We understand that the industry is as interested as anybody is in sustainability and that we now have the ability and are carrying out a very sustainable forest operation in this province. As you've said, this is now being recognized internationally. This is just one more step, having this bill, to give the public confidence that our forestry practice in Ontario is second to none. I agree with you, it's world class for sure.
Mr Lopez: Your point is excellent in terms of the perceptions of the public. I wish every citizen in Ontario could have attended the round table meetings that we had in the Lands for Life process, because I think the people who went into those who were not from the industry, and particularly people who weren't from the northern part of the province where the industry practises, had a very different perception of what actually happens in the bush. I think when they walked away from the public consultations and the little subgroups that we put together there, most of them had changed their minds. They came away with a much better understanding of the sustainable forestry practices that we have on crown land in Ontario.
Mr Ramsay: Do I have another second?
The Chair: Yes, very briefly.
Mr Ramsay: I know on these tours we'll be out in the bush and the tour guide will say, "We're in a clear-cut." People look around, and there are trees all over the place. They see trees that are left to regenerate the area naturally and where the industry comes back in 20 years and takes those seed trees out as the new forest grows. I think people still remember the old pictures from British Columbia of hillsides absolutely devastated, and they think that's what forestry is today, and it isn't.
Mr Lopez: That's correct.
Ms Martel: Thank you, Jim, for coming today. I appreciate the comments on the CFSA, and I will tell the leader, who was the former minister, what you had to say. I'm sure he'd be interested.
I was interested in your comments with respect to licensing as a mechanism in the long term to lessen the gap between forest management on private woodlots and forest management on crown lands. I'm wondering, how much wood does Tembec buy off private woodlots?
Mr Lopez: From private woodlots, we probably buy in excess of 200,000 cubic metres annually in Ontario.
Ms Martel: Are your comments with respect to lessening the gap being made as a result of practices you've seen on private woodlots as a result of having to purchase off private woodlots to feed your mills?
Mr Lopez: When you look at the private wood industry in Ontario, it's a fairly small world, so you're aware of the practices that are going on. A lot of people who have woodlots don't even live on those woodlots; they have them as property up north somewhere and are interested in generating revenue off of those woodlots but may not be well informed as to proper forest management practices. So the first fellow who comes along and makes him the best deal would get that, whereas if he were more informed about licensed professional foresters being available to practise forest management on the woodlots, he may be encouraged to utilize these professionals.
The Chair: On behalf of all the members of the committee, thank you for coming before us this afternoon. We appreciated your words of advice.
ONTARIO FORESTRY ASSOCIATION
The Chair: I now call on the representatives from the Ontario Forestry Association, please. Good afternoon, and welcome to our committee. When you're settled and ready to begin, please start by introducing yourself for the Hansard record.
Mr Rick Monzon: Madam Chair and members of the resources development committee, thank you for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to address the committee on this very important piece of legislation. My name is Rick Monzon. I'm the executive director of the Ontario Forestry Association, and I'm a registered professional forester in Ontario.
The Ontario Forestry Association supports Bill 71; it supports a bill which will provide the profession of forestry with the power to license registered professional foresters in Ontario and will promote high standards of sustainable forest management.
The Ontario Forestry Association, for those of you who may not know, is a not-for-profit landowner-based association with over 1,500 members across Ontario. Its mandate is to raise awareness and understanding of all aspects of Ontario's forests and to develop a commitment to stewardship and forest ecosystems. In doing this, we promote the need for a balanced perspective.
We have a variety of objectives. Those are printed on the handout, and I will not go through them all. It's sufficient to say that we develop and implement educational programs; we design and implement products; we do promotional activities; we have done and continue to do some direct reforestation and afforestation; and we continue to take a public stand on major forest issues in Ontario, a stand that we hope reflects a balanced view.
Our key program areas, the key clients that our organization serves, are landowner education and advice on woodland or woodlot management. These are southern Ontario landowners, by and large. Also, we're very involved in the delivery of balanced forestry and environmental education programs for elementary and high school students across Ontario.
Southern Ontario is a primary area of concern for the Ontario Forestry Association, given the interests of our landowner members, but all of Ontario is of concern to us with respect to the activities that are related to sustainable forest management and education.
In southern Ontario, OFA objectives speak to the support of sustainable forestry, conservation and the need for a balanced perspective. In both northern and particularly southern Ontario, the Ontario government is now moving out of the direct management of forests. Municipalities have some authority here with respect to the Trees Act and the development and implementation of tree-cutting bylaws. But in southern Ontario, direct landowner assistance, in terms of advice and on-the-ground work activities, has been withdrawn.
The Ontario Forestry Association has been, and continues to be, involved in assisting landowners to manage their private woodlands in a sustainable manner through educational materials and forest management program administration. The latter is best exemplified by the managed forest tax incentive program, otherwise known as MFTIP, which is administered by the Ontario Forestry Association and the Ontario woodlot association. MFTIP is a voluntary Ontario government program that provides lower property taxes to participating landowners who agree to conserve and manage their forests through the preparation of a forest management plan. Professional foresters are involved in the preparation of forest management plans for landowners for both MFTIP and other purposes. Professional foresters are also involved in the provision of a wide variety of consulting services on both private and public lands.
In carrying out these activities, it is important that landowners are aware, and continue to be aware, of the sustainability aspects of the activities taking place in their woodlots, and it is important that professional foresters understand their obligation for the promotion of the highest standards of sustainable forest management. It is important that landowners are aware of this obligation and that landowners understand that they have recourse in the event that the highest professional standards are not maintained. It is important that accountability be established and enforced.
In southern Ontario, anyone can describe themselves as a forestry consultant. Consultants also include professionals and technical people from a number of other disciplines: biologists, ecologists, planners, naturalists. They are in business as individuals or as staff of companies and agencies, and they are not usually subject to professional standards. It is critically important that these standards be set and that landowners understand that there is an independent professional body with the power to license professionals and monitor performance. The OFA does not suggest that all forestry consultants be licensed by the OPFA; we do subscribe, however, to the concept of a registered professional body to license professional foresters and to hold them accountable for their work. Other disciplines would be exempt.
In southern Ontario, in our experience, all landowners are concerned about their forest properties; all have a sense of responsibility and pride of ownership. In addition, there are now more baby-boomer-generation landowners, who are concerned about the environment, who want to manage the right way and who are looking to conserve the woodlots and manage them on a sustainable basis for a variety of purposes. Landowners want to do the right thing. Our recent experience with MFTIP indicates that landowners take great pride in developing quality forest management plans and working with qualified consultants.
In southern Ontario, the southern Ontario woodlots are in rough shape; many have been purposely high-graded, many have been neglected and most are producing far below their potential from the standpoint of sustainable development. Whether they are being managed for wood products or environmental protection, most are far below potential. This has been going on for a long, long time, and the situation will continue to get worse if no action is taken. Long-term impacts involve environmental degradation -- I've indicated a number of examples of this: loss of topsoil, reduced water quality. There's a variety of economic considerations: fewer primary sector forestry jobs, fewer secondary and tertiary jobs and less employment in recreation due to the lack of high-quality and biodiversity-rich woodlands. There are social considerations: fewer high-quality woodlands for passive and active recreation, loss of critical earth- and life-science values.
Will licensing make a difference? We believe it will. Foresters involved in private land forestry will promote and implement high standards of sustainable forest management. This action alone will make a difference on private lands, when foresters are directly involved. The development of these high standards will also set the bar for others involved in this type of work. It will set a higher standard of excellence, and this will appeal to private landowners. In addition, landowners will have recourse in the event of poor workmanship and sloppy practices. The Ontario Professional Foresters Association will then be positioned to inspect work relative to standards and determine if sanctions are required. The end result will be an increased value of the private forest estate through sustainability, biodiversity and improved growing stock. The OFA believes this is good public policy. The accountabilities will be clear, as foresters will be required to adhere to professional standards set and administered by an independent licensing body.
Our recommendations: The Ontario Forestry Association supports this bill. We believe it's good public policy; it will be good for Ontario, for the public forests, for the private forests and for the landowners. We urge that this committee support it as well.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have time for two minutes of questions from each caucus. We begin with the Liberal caucus.
Mr Ramsay: Thank you for your presentation. I'm very pleased to see a perspective coming from private land forests. Having lived in northern Ontario now for 26 years, a great amount of our land is crown land, and it is a very different situation in the north than it is in the south. But the forests that are left in southern Ontario are extremely important to our economy in the province and to the environment. Your presentation increased my knowledge of how private landowners in the south feel about their forests. I'm also pleased with the incentive programs that the Ontario government does have in place to encourage proper forest practice of private forests in Ontario.
I agree with you; I think the vast majority of private owners want to manage their forest in the most sustainable manner. I'm glad you brought that forward. I'm very glad you support this bill and recognize that licensing is going to increase not only the awareness but I think the confidence in the work that the professional forester does, both on crown land and on private land. Thank you very much.
Ms Martel: I think I'm confused, so let me just ask these questions. Right now, under the MFTIP -- I know the whole acronym but I won't say it out -- professional foresters are involved, so they have to sign off.
Mr Monzon: That's correct.
Ms Martel: These would be people who are members of the association, by and large, who would be using the designation RPF now, right?
Mr Monzon: Yes.
Ms Martel: So those folks are already involved in assisting people with management of private woodlots.
Mr Monzon: That's correct.
Ms Martel: The only way I can see this working in terms of making the situation better on private woodlots is if people were turning away from people who are putting themselves out only as forestry consultants versus people who are now actually signing off, who in effect are members of the association, can have disciplinary actions taken against them, already have to adhere to high standards of expertise and make sure they are involved in ongoing educational issues etc. I'm not here to be dismayed by your support because I'm supportive too, but what I'm clearly not understanding is why and how it is that merely through licensing, things are going to get better on private woodlots. Do you know what I mean?
Mr Monzon: There's no standard at this point developed for management plans, for the standards of management plans. I say that in recognition that under the managed forest tax incentive program the government has established a standard that the plan has to meet. However, within the development of that plan there are many technical components of that. To use a hypothetical example, if you have a 50-acre woodlot, you can have a plan done by a professional which will come out as a class A plan and you will also have a plan which will come out as a class C. Both would be acceptable under managed forest tax. My concern and the concern of the Ontario Forestry Association is that we want to see the class A. It will be the development of the professional and technical standards within the body of the plan where the significant difference will be made.
We also believe that private landowners, and I tried to make this point in the presentation, are becoming more and more concerned about the quality of their woodlands. They want to take care of them. They want to manage them in the right way. We have found an increasing sense of pride on behalf of private owners who feel that they have a really first-class plan. They are very proud of it, they like to show it off and they're looking continuously for ways to make it better. Does that help?
Ms Martel: I think so. Thank you.
The Chair: We have three questions from the government side.
Mr Hastings: Mr Monzon, does your organization believe that this bill should have been sent to the Red Tape Commission for examination? That would be my first question. Second, has your organization, through its board of directors, ever supported a municipality that wanted to stipulate and set up a bylaw in terms of protecting heritage trees on private property in urban settings?
Mr Monzon: The answer to the first question is no, we have not looked at this from the standpoint of being required to go to the Red Tape Commission.
From the standpoint of a bylaw with respect to heritage trees, in my recollection, to be honest, I cannot say for sure. I don't know that we have or we haven't. Certainly we have been called upon from time to time to make comments on tree-cutting bylaws that are put forward by municipalities. I'm just not aware whether or not the issue of heritage trees has come up.
Mr Ouellette: Just to follow up on that, as one of the founding members for the South-Central Ontario Forestry Association, we heard a number of different incidents, and in the past I've heard of an actual case from Ontario Hydro where individuals had chained themselves to a tree because they were going to cut down a heritage tree. The foresters tried to explain that it was actually a telephone pole with lines and the wires were covered in ivy, but these are different things.
One of my concerns is that forest management is always after the fact, so to speak. In the past two weeks, and I know it was very specifically two weeks ago, I was reviewing a red pine plot and it had developed into what I usually see in southern Ontario as a monoculture. The problem I find is that a lot of woodlot owners have no idea of the potential within those specific areas. How does this association intend to address those, to develop those monocultures into developing forests, and how is it going to benefit that segment of the community?
Mr Monzon: One of the ways we do that is through a series of workshops and/or seminars that we hold, or work with other organizations to hold, to bring that awareness to the forefront with respect to landowners. As an example, we have an annual conference coming up in February and one of the workshops at that conference will be red pine plantation management.
The larger issue, I believe, is one of awareness and trying to get the information to landowners as to what needs to be done. In doing that, we do work ourselves and we do work with private land stewardship co-ordinators through the Ministry of Natural Resources. We have done some work with some of the municipalities and some of the people in the municipalities who are responsible for tree cutting -- tree commissioners etc -- and we have done some work with some of the local mills, but it's a large problem.
I think in many instances we forget where the establishment of the monocultures came from and how it arose. If you go back to the 1910s and 1920s when a lot of southern Ontario was essentially being blown away, as it had been farmed out, that's when the monoculture became established through the planting of Scotch pine, red pine and some Jack pine, but mostly red pine, and that continued through to the 1970s and 1980s. It's not something that's practised a lot now. In the plantings that we have done, and we've done over six million trees in southern Ontario in the past several years, the majority of the landowners wanted not a monoculture; they wanted a mixture of hardwoods and softwoods. They wanted it in a manner which met their particular objectives. It's a difficult one to deal with because, as you're aware, if you leave a 25-year-old red pine plantation too long it gets more and more difficult to manage as opposed to becoming easier. But the issue is awareness and education.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation this afternoon. We appreciate your point of view.
GRANT FOREST PRODUCTS
The Chair: I now call representatives from Grant Forest Products, please. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee. When you're settled, please begin and start by introducing yourself for the Hansard record.
Mr Bob Fleet: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention. My name is Bob Fleet. I'm a registered professional forester.
By way of a brief introduction, I graduated from forestry at the University of Toronto in 1980. It seems like yesterday. I worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources from 1977 until 1994. Obviously, if you look at the year of graduation and when I started work, there were some summer jobs in there that I've included. I work now with Grant Forest Products and I have since 1994. My title and capacity at Grant Forest Products is the vice-president of woodlands.
I have a very brief presentation for you, and hopefully you have some questions for me.
Some information about Grant Forest Products: It's a Canadian-owned, northern-Ontario-owned private company. We own and run two oriented strand board mills in Ontario, one in Englehart, Ontario, and the other in Timmins, Ontario. These two mills consume two million cubic metres of crown aspen every year. To put that into perspective -- I'm rounding, of course -- two million cubic metres of crown wood is approximately 9% or 10% of the provincial allowable harvest.
Of the board that we make, 95% is exported to the United States, so that market and our company are intertwined. Our company is very important to the balance of trade for this province in terms of being largely an exporting manufacturing company.
We have approximately 600 direct employees in Ontario with a few in Michigan, and we have about another 600 what I would call indirect employees. Those would be people who get a paycheque from somebody other than Grant but work almost exclusively for Grant Forest Products; so about 1,200 employees at least.
I came this afternoon to tell you that I support Bill 71. In my view, it complements at least two existing pieces of legislation. One is the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and the other is the Environmental Assessment Act. Those are two pieces of legislation that, having spent my working life in Ontario in forestry, I am fairly familiar with.
One of the reasons I support Bill 71 is because it reinforces both the provincial and national objectives of forest sustainability, which in my view is in the public interest.
Another thing that is extremely important to me is that this Bill 71, at the end of the day, identifies an accountable person, and that would be the registered professional forester. What it will do for me is it will tell me, or I will know, that when I hire a forester I am hiring somebody who is competent and acting to at least a prescribed minimum level of conduct. That is becoming more and more important to me, as a person responsible for the consumption of 10% of Ontario's allowable harvest, because with the transfer of responsibility for forest operations out of the government environment and into the private sector, everybody -- the government, the public and private people -- has to know that Ontario's forests will continue to be managed sustainably.
The final point I'd like to make -- it's not on the overhead -- in terms of one more thing that's important to the company is that, as I mentioned, our markets are almost 95% American. That would be in the neighbourhood of about $250 million a year of annual sales in American money. One thing that's becoming increasingly important in the international market is the ability to certify your product using the Canadian Standards Association or a host of certifications that are available and starting to be demanded by the more prudent consumer. I see this bill as helping our company obtain certification of that Ontario wood that we use to make our product as well.
That's really all I have to say this afternoon. I'd love to entertain any questions.
The Chair: We begin with the NDP caucus and we have slightly over three minutes per caucus for questions.
Ms Martel: Thank you for coming today. You've come a long way. Let me ask you, does Grant have a sustainable forestry licence?
Mr Fleet: We actually have no sustainable forest licence in our name, but we are shareholders of three or four sustainable forest licences where there would be more than one company which is the holder.
Ms Martel: So you yourself would not be directly signing off forest management plans themselves as a consequence; it would be the other companies that you have a relationship with.
Mr Fleet: It would be a partnership company, the shares of which would be held by our company and a number of other companies in the vicinity of our mill, which would hire a forester who would write a plan, who would sign off. Indirectly that person would be an employee of our company.
Ms Martel: So while this might not affect you directly, it would have at MNR, so I feel OK about still asking the question. Under the current scenario, as a registered professional forester and I'm assuming a member of the association, if a complaint were brought against you under the self-certification process that's in place now, there would be some penalty that would be attached to you for work that is not well done or for work that is very poorly done that puts forest or wildlife habitat etc at risk. Is that correct?
Mr Fleet: Do you mean a penalty by my association?
Ms Martel: Yes.
Mr Fleet: I guess there could be. I don't think I've heard of one.
Ms Martel: If you were at MNR, or before when you were at MNR -- I'm assuming you worked in the bush and worked as a professional forester -- what penalty, if any, would there have been against you for work that was improperly done if a public complaint were brought? Would there be any penalty?
Mr Fleet: I'd be guessing at the penalty. I suppose the association may have been able to revoke my certification.
Ms Martel: What would that have meant to you in clear terms?
Mr Fleet: Under the old?
Ms Martel: Before this bill was passed.
Mr Fleet: It would not have meant a great deal.
Ms Martel: The fact that you would have a licence or have to be licensed now, or people you were hiring would have to be licensed now, and if that is revoked they would probably not work in the province, is really what is at the heart of most of this bill. You are much more accountable or professional foresters are much more accountable for their work because if the work is shoddily done they run a risk of not being able to be employed in the province.
Mr Fleet: I think you put it very well.
Ms Martel: So in terms of your work now outside of the public sector and with a private sector company, the ability for that to happen is just as important because so much of the government's responsibilities for forest management have now been shifted to the private sector. If you are not able to compete in the global market and people don't want to buy your products because they don't like your forestry practices, that's also going to have a direct impact on you and the people who are employed by Grant and the communities that are sustained by Grant.
Mr Fleet: Absolutely.
Ms Martel: So we should be supporting this because of the fact that the licensing and the ability of the association to revoke it is so much stronger than whatever penalty might be in place now if someone who goes out and says they are a registered professional forester indeed does a shoddy job.
Mr Fleet: Yes. I want to be careful with my answer only in the sense that I agree mostly with what you say. The difference is that previously having the certification revoked would not necessarily have led to loss of employment and under this regime it would. I think that's the point you were making and that's why it is important.
Ms Martel: Certainly for the public seeing that, the public understanding that is the remedy, that's a much stronger position for them in terms of wanting to know about accountability.
Mr Fleet: Yes.
Mr Ouellette: Thank you for your presentation. You mentioned that annually you devote two million cubits --
Mr Fleet: Cubic metres.
Mr Ouellette: What percentage would come from small cutter-skidder operations, say in your Timmins office? Do you contract out to individuals to bring in, to purchase wood?
Mr Fleet: At Timmins we purchase all of the wood from five or six other large companies, but many of those companies do in fact use what I would describe as the independent cutter-skidder to bring the wood to the mill.
Mr Ouellette: So you wouldn't know what percentage would come from the --
Mr Fleet: No. I'd be comfortable saying 20% at least of that 800,000.
Mr Ouellette: What impact would you think the change would have on the small cutter-skidder operations, if any? Would you expect anything to reflect further down at that level? With the changing dynamics of the forest industry they're becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of participants in it as technology changes with your forwarders etc, and participation out there -- I'm just wondering about the impact of the small operations.
Mr Fleet: In the part of the world where we draw our wood from, I don't see it having too much of an impact on the small operators per se and, more important --
Mr Ouellette: So when I talk to some of your suppliers tonight it will be OK to say that you don't see any impact on them at all.
Mr Fleet: No, that wouldn't be the case. There will be an impact but I think it will be a matter of degrees.
Mr Ouellette: I know some of your suppliers in the area up there. One other question: Was your operation the one that had the fire two years ago?
Mr Fleet: The Timmins mill burned to the ground two years ago, but at that time we didn't own it; we just acquired it in September. It was someone else.
Mr Ouellette: As an impact on the industry -- as I mentioned, the technology changes -- would you see it as increasing the number of participants in the forestry industry or decreasing it, or basically staying the same?
Mr Fleet: At the forest management -- analysis, planning, long-term sustainability, wood determination -- it's going to inevitably end up in an increase in the number of players.
Mr Ouellette: OK, thank you. Those are all the questions I have, Chair.
The Chair: Mr Hastings, did you wish to question?
Mr Hastings: Mr Fleet, I'm wondering about the licensing standards. Do you believe, if this piece of legislation had already been passed, that this organization would have had a greater impact in the Lands for Life debate?
Mr Fleet: I don't know that the results brought forward by the round table may have been different, but I think there might have been some better information floating around in the public about why the result was the way it was, had the legislation already been passed.
Mr Hastings: Because you would have as an organization an enhanced professional status among the participants.
Mr Fleet: Yes.
Mr Hastings: One final question: You have read the bill, I presume, in great detail and thought about it. Do you have any concerns regarding the role of the registrar and his or her powers under the investigation section of part VIII regarding reasonable and probable grounds that a member is guilty of professional misconduct etc? Do you believe there ought to be some built-in safeguards either within the bill itself or through regulation? Do you find it a little scary, in other words?
Mr Fleet: I don't find it scary from the perspective that I think I conduct myself as a forester at a high standard; therefore it doesn't scare me. If it were scary to somebody, hopefully they'd deserve to be because they might not have been conducting themselves to the highest standard they should have.
Mr Hastings: You're not concerned about what could be interpreted as reasonable or probable grounds for a fishing expedition, as I've seen in other similarly related sectors but outside this sector?
Mr Fleet: I would have to go back and read it again to give you an answer. I don't mean to skate on it but I'd just have to go back and reread that.
Mr Ramsay: Bob is a constituent of mine. I welcome you to Queen's Park and these committee hearings. I appreciate very much your attendance here.
We've heard from a lot of presenters today, and you've reinforced that in your presentation, that by setting the bar high, by licensing of foresters, it will maybe arm you and your company and this very important industry with some armament that we need in a more highly politicized industry because of the increasing public interest and scrutiny of what your industry does and how it manages the forests.
Do you see that as helping to accomplish that like certification does, that in this case the licensing of foresters will help our industry and help our province to convince the world that the forestry practice you're carrying out today is done in a very sustainable manner?
Mr Fleet: Yes. That's one of the major reasons why I'm here today to support the bill.
The Chair: On behalf of all the members of the committee, thank you for coming today. We very much appreciate your insight into this.
The Chair: Our final presenter this afternoon is Donohue Inc. Good afternoon and welcome. We have your brief, so if you'll begin by introducing yourself, please.
Mr François Dumoulin: I would like first to thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for this opportunity to present Donohue's view on Bill 71.
My name is François Dumoulin. I'm a 20-year member of the Quebec Order of Forest Engineers. I hold a bachelor's degree in forestry from Laval University and a master's degree from the University of British Columbia. At Donohue I'm the corporate director of forestry.
In a few words, my role is as an internal adviser to Donohue's top management and to professional foresters in our four woodlands divisions in Quebec. I also represent Donohue on provincial and national forestry and industry committees.
A bit of background on Donohue: Donohue is one of the world's leading producers of newsprint, lumber and market pulp. Donohue has operations in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Texas. We are involved in forest management in both Quebec and Ontario.
Donohue's operations in Ontario: First on the mill side, we have one newsprint mill in Thorold. It uses about 80% of de-inked pulp and 20% of thermomechanical pulp made out of wood chips. We also have Donohue Recycling. It's one of the largest handlers of recycled blue box materials in Canada and it's based in Toronto.
On the woodlands side, we manage three sustainable forest licences and we are also shareholders of a partnership that manages a fourth licence. To manage these licences, we've got on staff seven registered professional foresters. They recently delivered three forest management plans. All three Donohue SFLs underwent successful independent forest audits in the last two years.
Our foresters were active in the Lands for Life public consultation process and some of them were also members of the teams that developed the forest management planning manual, the forest information manual and the Ontario Forest Industry Association code of forest practices.
Why is Bill 71 a good thing for Donohue? First, you've got to look at the context. As has been said before, the government is moving away from direct forest management in Ontario, as it is in other provinces. There is an increasing demand for forest values. The public is more informed and more demanding. Clearly, there's a demand for better protection of public interests and for credibility and transparency in the forest management process.
To answer these demands, we see great potential in a self-governing professional association regulated by appropriate legislation, somewhat similar to what we have in Quebec, the Quebec Forest Engineers Act.
Allow me to say a few words on Donohue's experience in Quebec. Donohue in Quebec has 14 sawmills, three newsprint mills and two pulp mills. It's the largest licence holder in the province, with about 19% of all the annually allowable softwood cut.
We have on staff to manage these forests 45 licensed professional foresters. They are all members of the Quebec Order of Forest Engineers. This order is regulated by the Forest Engineers Act, which was enacted in 1921. The order has about 2,030 members. Its mission is clearly stated: to protect the public's interest in the management of forests. It is directed by a board of directors with regional representation. It has a code of ethics; it has a continuing education program; it has a complaints committee; it has two inspectors on staff. I've been personally inspected twice so far, so it does work. They also have a discipline committee.
In the last few weeks we had public hearings in the regions of the province of Quebec regarding the revision of the Quebec Forest Act. Clearly, we see that more responsibilities will be put on the shoulders of the foresters. They will be, as they are now, held accountable for what they do. Many stakeholders are asking for less regulation. That is to be replaced by management by objectives. The job is increasingly more complex and will be increasingly more complex. Knowledge is evolving rapidly in Quebec like elsewhere in the forestry business. It's driven mostly by increased demands on the forest.
Our registered professional foresters must incorporate this knowledge in the development of key documents of the forest act: the 25-year, five-year and annual forest management plans and the annual report. As is the case in Ontario, these plans are the blueprints for all forest management activities. They explicitly specify what will be done, when, where and why, taking into consideration a wealth of other values such as wildlife habitat, ecosystems integrity, recreation, soil protection and so on.
In conclusion, we see lots of similarities between Ontario and Quebec regarding the management of forests on crown land. The Forest Engineers Act truly works in Quebec and we believe that a similar act, Bill 71, would work as well in the Ontario context. It is a good way to ensure that forests in Ontario are well managed and that the public's interest is well taken care of. This is important for the current generation of Ontarians but probably even more important for the generations to come.
The Chair: Thank you very much; about two minutes for questions from each caucus. We begin with the government caucus.
Mr Ouellette: Thank you for your presentation. Earlier on, one of the presentations mentioned the professional foresters providing services in areas of tree marking. In my previous life I dealt with buyers from Pennsylvania and New York, and one of the common complaints was that the trees that were actually marked to be harvested were not always the best trees. In their perception, the trees that were left were higher-quality trees, obviously for seed trees for future development and future growth.
How do you envision future markings or future harvesting going on to ensure that those high-quality trees remain? In my opinion, the industry is designed to capture the best aspect of the forest. In the short term we could take the high-grade trees, as was talked about when we talked about high-grading, but in the long-term development of the forest we get into complicated matters. How would you see this as solving that situation?
Mr Dumoulin: I don't see too much of a relationship between the tree marking and the act that is proposed here. Basically, what you need is to have a good set of rules on how to perform the tree marking and to develop those rules. To make sure that they are well applied, you need licensed foresters. That's the way it works in Quebec. But the actual tree marking is performed by forest technicians. To make sure that in the future we don't end up with high-grading, you need to have a good set of rules for tree marking. In Quebec, tree marking is a tough business. It's really tough to handle that. You've got so many criteria to analyze when you're in the forest, it's amazing.
Mr Ouellette: So you don't see professional foresters as providing a tree marking service?
Mr Dumoulin: In Quebec, some licensed professional foresters provide that service. But any consulting firm that provides that kind of service needs to have licensed professional foresters on their staff to make sure the people who carry on the tree marking are well qualified to do so. But these could be technicians. It's a job you can be trained for in a given forest. Many forests are different and what you need then is someone who can deal with that.
Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much for your presentation. I very much appreciate the effort you've made in giving us this perspective from another province that, as you've outlined to us, has had this sort of legislation in effect for quite a while now, and assuring myself and the rest of the committee members that this type of legislation is successful and works very well with the industry. I very much appreciate that. Thank you again for coming.
Ms Martel: Merci, monsieur Dumoulin, d'être venu cet après-midi. Because you have told us already that for 20 years you have been a member of the Quebec Order of Forest Engineers, so you are licensed in Quebec, I would like to ask you: What are the concrete differences that you see in terms of your responsibilities, your accountability as a licensed member in Quebec versus what your responsibility and your accountability are in Ontario, where licensing is not yet in place?
Mr Dumoulin: I'm not familiar enough with some aspects of the forest act in Ontario. In Quebec, the forest management plans are key documents. Basically, they're the groupings of whatever we're going to do in the forest. Therefore in Quebec, the forest act says that these plans must be signed by a licensed forester. I suppose that's probably something a bit similar in terms of registered professional forester in Ontario.
To answer your question, I would say that in Quebec right now there's that association or that order that looks after all the foresters and makes sure that they follow the standards. If they don't, you've got no other possibility: They're kicked out of the order and they can't work in forestry. What I understand is that in Ontario they may be kicked out of the association but can still practise forestry. You may not use the same title but you're still advising people on forestry. In Quebec you can't do that. If you're kicked out, you can't present yourself as a person who --
Ms Martel: If I read part of your comments on page 3 of 4 with respect to the order, as I look at it and as you have described, there's quite an intense level of scrutiny with respect to professional licensed foresters' conduct that you've already outlined.
Mr Dumoulin: Just to give you an example, and my numbers may not be totally right, I believe that every year they send about 200 questionnaires and these questionnaires take at least a day to fill in. They cover most of the pieces of regulation that control our profession in Quebec. These 200 foresters have to fill that in and submit those questionnaires. These questionnaires are reviewed and a number of them are selected for the inspection, about 50 a year. It's quite a comprehensive process that we have in place. It's a process that is evolving. It's getting tougher and tougher as the public is asking for tougher and tougher credibility, if you want, from the foresters.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We appreciate your coming today.
Mr Dumoulin: My pleasure.
The Chair: Colleagues, that's our last presentation this afternoon, and I think I'm OK in saying a very interesting afternoon of presentations. I thank all those who are here this afternoon who have taken the time to share their knowledge and their advice with us. We really do welcome that.
The clause-by-clause consideration of this bill will occur tomorrow afternoon. Because we are doing it slightly differently and we are beginning with another bill, it's a little bit difficult for me to give you an exact time as to when we'll consider this bill. I guess we'll just have to play it by ear, so you'll have to stay tuned. My sense is that the first bill won't have a lot of amendments to it, so it may go fairly quickly. But there are always surprises. I just caution you to stay tuned. We'll do both tomorrow.
Are there any further issues which should be discussed this afternoon? Seeing none, we'll reconvene tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 following standing orders.
The committee adjourned at 1731.