Derek Nighbor (President and CEO)
Mahima Sharma (Vice President, Innovation, Environment, and Climate Policy)
Countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland continuously demonstrate that responsible governance and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive but, in fact, complementary.
As momentum builds to advance greener construction practices and materials around the world, the House of Commons unanimously backed landmark legislation last month that will secure Canada's spot alongside global frontrunners at the helm of sustainable progress.
The forest sector has long touted the benefits of new and innovative building materials as a means of reducing our collective carbon footprint. For the past six years, MP Richard Cannings of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, BC has determinedly encouraged federal lawmakers to actively consider the merits of wood-based construction materials – and introduced a private members’ bill to that effect.
Finally, in late September, Bill S-222 was passed with a definitive vote of 326-0. This is a clear indication of consensus across Canada’s political spectrum to embrace and promote sustainable building materials like wood.
While concrete and steel sectors will continue to play a significant role, Bill S-222 helps ensure wood gets considered at the front end of building design and procurement decisions – not as an afterthought, but as an equal partner to other building materials.
As a result, we can achieve climate resiliency and a lower carbon footprint by sourcing a sustainable product that is renewable, that Canada has in abundance, and that will support Canadian jobs and promote self-sufficiency for generations to come. With an increasing 10% of Canada’s wood supply now directly managed by Indigenous peoples and communities, there is an opportunity to accelerate economic reconciliation in tandem.
For far too long, Canada's federal procurement processes have been hamstrung by traditional approaches to construction materials, neglecting the potential of innovative wood products and their capacity to reduce our carbon footprint at large scale. The new lens on procurement decisions for federal infrastructure will create opportunity for Canada’s forest sector and its people while showcasing Canadian innovation to the world.
There are now some 800 mass timber projects in Canada either completed or underway – with hundreds more under consideration or in design development across the country. And Canada isn’t alone in this journey. A year ago, the Biden administration accelerated its Buy Clean agenda which prioritizes the purchase of low-carbon construction materials by the American government.
Aside from the environmental benefits, this development has the potential to play a role in addressing the ongoing housing crisis that has gripped both countries in recent years.
As it stands, Canada needs to build over 9 million affordable housing units by 2030 to cater to the increasing demand. Our current trajectory falls significantly short, underlining an imminent and growing crisis. The Canadian forest sector can deliver efficient, cost-effective, and climate-resilient solutions for this housing challenge.
Embracing wood products, especially mass timber, allows for precision manufacturing, modularity, and prefabrication. These features mean faster construction times, and significant savings in labour costs, which is especially vital in addressing housing shortages promptly.
Contrary to certain assumptions, mass timber buildings have also shown excellent resistance to both fires and earthquakes. This means safer housing options in regions prone to such natural disasters.
The unanimous support for Bill S-222 sends a powerful signal – that government leaders recognize the role sustainably-sourced Canadian wood products will play in building greener institutions and communities.
We welcome the government’s timely support for a unified path forward that advances the environmental, social, and economic benefits of sustainable Canadian forestry while affirming Canada's place alongside nations championing a greener future.
FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, paper, and forest bioproducts producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. As an industry with annual revenues exceeding $73 billion, Canada’s forest products sector is one of the country’s largest employers operating in hundreds of communities, providing 205,000 direct jobs and over 600,000 indirect jobs across the country. FPAC and its members are committed to collaborating with Indigenous leaders, federal and provincial governments, labour partners, community groups, and other rightsholders and stakeholders to secure and advance the sector’s environmental, social, and economic potential for the long-term.