Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation.
The story of indigenous peoples in Canada has a history that stretches far into the past, well before the arrival of European newcomers to Canada.
Indigenous people have a fundamental role in Canada's past and are a strong pillar of our society. These are words people will hear at many citizenship ceremonies across Canada. Taking the oath of citizenship is a vital step in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen. It is recited as the final step to becoming a Canadian citizen. During the ceremony, participants accept the rights and responsibilities of citizenship by taking the oath of citizenship, after which they become a Canadian citizen and receive a certificate of citizenship.
I have had the privilege of attending many citizenship ceremonies in Surrey and welcoming new groups of Canadians to this great land. This bill is particularly important in Surrey where the largest urban indigenous population in British Columbia lives and welcomes new Canadian neighbours who have made their home in the city. It is important for both new Canadians and those who are born here to learn about indigenous peoples and their history.
Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94, proposes to change Canada's oath of citizenship to include clear reference to the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the aboriginal and treaty rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis people.
The proposed amendment to the oath reflects the Government of Canada's commitment to reconciliation and a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. The proposed amendment is part of the government's ongoing response to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The changes are an important and necessary step in advancing Canada's broader agenda for reconciliation and strengthening the country's valued relationship with indigenous peoples in Canada.
The government's proposed amendment of the citizenship oath would allow new Canadians to fully appreciate and respect how indigenous peoples are an important part of Canada's history and identity. The new citizenship oath would also reflect our expectations that new Canadians demonstrate an understanding of indigenous peoples and their constitutional rights.
There is no relationship that is more important to the Government of Canada than the one with indigenous peoples. Together, Canada and indigenous peoples are continuing to forge a renewed relationship based on the recognition of rights, trust, respect and a true spirit of co-operation. That is why across the country Canada and indigenous peoples are working together to close the quality-of-life gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
Important progress has been made. The last three budgets have provided $16.8 billion in new funding for indigenous peoples, an increase in planned spending in 2020-21 of 34% over 2015, but there is still much work to do. Budget 2019 represents the next step in the ongoing path towards reconciliation and a better future for indigenous peoples and everyone.
This bill is especially important to me as I sat on CIMM, the citizenship and immigration committee, for four years, and in this Parliament, I currently sit on the international trade committee. For the first time in any of Canada's free trade agreements, a general exception was incorporated to ensure the government is able to fulfill its legal obligations to indigenous peoples in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and other self-government agreements.
Consultation with indigenous communities during the CUSMA negotiations was one of Canada's top priorities. To make sure that indigenous people's trade interests would be protected, the CUSMA includes language that recognizes the importance of more engagement with indigenous peoples.
The CUSMA preserves Canada's traditional reservations, exceptions and exclusions in multiple areas, including cross-border trade in services and investments, natural resources, the environment, and state-owned enterprises. By promoting indigenous entrepreneurship and business, the government will help first nations, Inuit and Métis people fully contribute to and share in Canada's economic success. This is a critical part of advancing reconciliation and self-determination.
All children in Canada deserve a real, fair chance to reach their full potential no matter where they live. By continuing to work collaboratively with first nations and Inuit partners, the government is working to eliminate barriers to accessing quality health care and culturally relevant social supports that children need to succeed. Distinctions-based funding for post-secondary education will also help first nation, Inuit and Métis students better access post-secondary education and succeed during their studies.
The government is also taking action to help communities reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen indigenous languages and sustain important cultural traditions and histories. This includes the passing of Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, last year, which protects 90 living indigenous languages spoken in Canada.
While the path to reconciliation is long, the government will continue to walk with first nations, Inuit and Métis people in its actions and interactions. As I mentioned, the proposed changes to the oath we are talking about today are an important and necessary step in advancing Canada's broader agenda for reconciliation with indigenous peoples in Canada. It demonstrates to new Canadians, and in fact to all Canadians, deep respect for indigenous peoples and recognizes that the histories of first nations, Inuit and Métis people are a vital part of Canada's fabric and identity.