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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-04 17:18 [p.14627]
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Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to support Motion No. 591 of my colleague, the member for Cardigan, regarding the Northumberland Ferry Service, which connects Wood Islands, P.E.I. and Caribou, Nova Scotia. This is very important to the member for Cardigan and for the people of Prince Edward Island.
The motion is quite simple. It seeks to:
—ensure a safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation system for Prince Edward Island by: (a) recognizing the integral economic importance of the ferry service between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island, and Caribou, Nova Scotia; and (b) committing to stable, long-term, sustainable, and adequate funding, notably by ensuring that all future contracts (i) are for no less than five years, (ii) maintain or exceed current levels of service
The ferry service between Wood Islands and Caribou is run by Northumberland Ferries Limited, or NFL, with headquarters in Charlottetown. Northumberland Ferries Limited has operated the ferry since it was established in 1941 by the Government of Canada. Since it was established, this service has continued to be one of the most important issues for the people of eastern Prince Edward Island, and to a great extent, to our entire province. It provides options in transportation.
Personally I have somewhat of a special connection to the P.E.I. ferry service because my dad was, first, a deckhand then a quartermaster with Marine Atlantic for some 32 years on the run between Borden and Cape Tormentine. That ferry run was replaced by the bridge. However, I remember as a kid being on that ferry run and seeing the trucks and the economic activities that were created on that run. Tourists would go back and forth to Prince Edward Island and the workers on those ferries would gain the economy to look after their families. The run that the member for Cardigan is pushing for is no less important to Prince Edward Island.
The Government of Canada continues to provide financial assistance to Northumberland Ferries Limited under the terms of a contribution agreement, while the company leases two ferry terminals and the vessels from the federal government. Today it is the only ferry service to the mainland.
It is said that the Conservatives have continually refused to fully commit to this ferry service, and I will explain how.
Near the end of the last five year deal, which was put in place by a Liberal government, there was a lot of speculation that the Conservative government would cut the funding and reduce the service to one vessel or eliminate it entirely.
The Council of Atlantic Premiers, which represents New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador, called upon the government to put in place a 15-year funding agreement. Only a three-year deal was put in place by the Conservative government. That was followed by a one-year extension in 2013. Last year the government extended the service for two more years. The current contract expires in March next year, just about enough time to get through the election.
Prince Edward Islanders, given the track record of the current government, do trust the Conservatives anymore? The press releases call it the Harper government, but we cannot say that in here. I see they are agitated over there, but I looked at press release after press release and that is the name on the literature. Are the Conservatives not proud of using that name in this place? I certainly would not be either.
Beyond the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the Wood Islands-Pictou ferry run, I cannot help but think of the damage the Conservative government has done in my province.
In fact, the very first act of the Prime Minister in 2006 was to cancel a fully federally funded energy cable to New Brunswick that would have given us energy security.
As well, in our seasonal industries of agriculture, fishing, and tourism, the changes to EI alone take $16.5 million out of our economy, right out of workers' pockets.
In agriculture specifically, the government has cut AgriInvest by one-third. It has cut AgriStability and undermined the safety net for farmers, not only in Prince Edward Island, but right across Canada. It has cut the researchers at the agriculture research station. The temporary foreign workers changes it has made have impacted all three seasonal industries. Fish plants are without workers. Processing, especially in the beef processing sector, is short of workers. That is affecting our economy.
In the tourism sector, tour companies are finding it difficult to get foreign interpreters and are understaffed as a result.
Cutbacks to Canada's summer job program are affecting both industry and students. Visitors' GST rebates are gone. Canadian tourism investments are gone. Canada Post is reduced. Literacy funding is cut. Environmental concerns are ignored.
All those things impact my province beyond the Pictou-Wood Islands ferry, so how could we expect Prince Edward Islanders to trust the Conservative government?
Beyond that, federal government offices are closed, immigration is transferred out of the province, the Canadian Coast Guard is cut back, DVA is reduced and its jobs cut, the DVA district office is closed, ACOA funding is cut. That is only a short list, so it is no wonder that islanders do not trust the Conservative government when it comes to the future of the Wood Islands-Pictou ferries.
We cannot trust the government. Short-term contracts are not enough. The operators of the ferries and the people and business people in Prince Edward Island and Pictou County, Nova Scotia, need stability.
This is not only an issue for P.E.I.; it is also important for Nova Scotia. In fact, only a few days ago, the island's evening news political panel commentator, Paula MacNeill, remarked that no one in eastern Prince Edward Island would be disappointed to see the member for Central Nova leaving, as he has:
...not been very helpful in supporting, enhancing or modernizing the Northumberland Ferries, which is an absolutely vital economic link for eastern P.E.I.
Not only is it vital for eastern P.E.I., it is vital for our entire province as well as Nova Scotia. It brings an estimated $27 million of economic benefits to the island every year, as well as $12 million to Nova Scotia. It is critical for the island's tourism, business, and transportation sectors as well as for those same sectors in Nova Scotia.
A document put together by the four Atlantic provinces called “Charting the Course: Atlantic Canada's Transportation Strategy 2008-2018” highlights the ferry services integral to the economy of our Atlantic region. It lists Wood Islands and Caribou as strategic marine ports and service centres for cargo and passenger movement.
Alonside that, we see the lack of trust in the government to provide a five-year contract. That is what the member for Cardigan is calling for. That is what my colleague from Charlottetown called for as well. I would ask members in the House to support the member for Cardigan in this motion, because if there is good economic activity in Atlantic Canada between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, it also rolls into a benefit for all Canadians. I ask for members' support for the motion by the member for Cardigan.
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View Tilly O'Neill Gordon Profile
CPC (NB)
View Tilly O'Neill Gordon Profile
2015-06-04 17:28 [p.14628]
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Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this essential ferry service. First and foremost, I have to emphasize that this private member's motion fails to recognize what this government has accomplished to support this ferry service.
The member for Cardigan is seeking a commitment from this government to ensure long-term, sustainable and adequate funding for the Wood Islands-Caribou ferry service. However, this government's track record irrefutably demonstrates a commitment to these objectives, a commitment sustained over a long period of time. Even more so, I do not hesitate to point out that our record is very clear, and that residents of Atlantic Canada have been well served by our continued support for the eastern Canada ferry services.
Our track record warrants being repeated so that no doubt is left in the minds of Canadians regarding our government's commitment to the ferry services operating in Atlantic Canada.
Since 2006, our government invested significantly in eastern Canada ferry services. From a total of approximately $250 million, over $100 million was allocated to the Wood Islands-Caribou service. The remainder of this total went to two other regional ferry services, namely the Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia and les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec to Souris, P.E.I. ferry services. I am sure we can agree that $250 million is a significant sum.
Moreover, our government invested $44.6 million to purchase a replacement vessel for the aging MV Princess of Acadia, the recently named MV Fundy Rose. We expect the MV Fundy Rose will be in service in 2015, after completion of some refitting and outfitting work. While the MV Princess of Acadia has provided the service for 44 years, it should be noted that the MV Fundy Rose vessel will offer improvements with respect to comfort and amenities, and has a more positive environmental impact.
As another example of our government's support, in 2013, this government invested almost $13 million to replace the main engines on the MV Holiday Island, an investment that has allowed for a more efficient service while reducing the risk of unanticipated mechanical breakdowns. This funding also went toward improvements to shore-based infrastructure on both sides of the Northumberland Strait.
We have heard the opposition demand that a longer-term deal for at least five years be put in place, which maintains or exceeds the current service that is provided.
I ask members to recall that, coinciding with our July 2014 funding announcement, our government stated its commitment to examining options for a long-term approach for the delivery of eastern Canada ferry services, including the Wood Islands-Caribou service. This work is currently under way and will provide the next steps in ensuring the sustainability of these ferry services.
Ferry operators and the provincial governments are being engaged, and we believe that our collective efforts will lead to a ferry service that best serves local communities and demonstrates this government's great sense of responsibility to Canadian taxpayers. This is the government's focus, and this is an important one if we are to achieve a sustainable ferry service.
A common theme heard from the other speakers was the importance of the Wood Islands-Caribou service to the tourism sector of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. In 2008, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency estimated that the ferry service provided annual benefits of $20.7 million to Prince Edward Island and $12.4 million to Nova Scotia. A significant number of tourists use the Wood Islands-Caribou service as a point of entry to Prince Edward Island, especially during the peak season of July to August tourist season. In July and August, visiting tourists using the ferry as the point of entry to the island represent 19% of total tourist visits.
This is a considerable amount of traffic using this ferry service, and we want to ensure that the local economy continues to be able to leverage tourism to facilitate prosperity in the long term. These are important components to foster sustainable and prosperous communities.
While it is clear the Wood Islands-Caribou ferry service plays an important role in supporting tourism in Prince Edward Island, it also creates an important linkage to Cape Breton Island. The existence of the ferry allows tourists to easily move from Prince Edward Island to eastern Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton. The ferry service has a long history of support from local communities. Over the last half century, there have been times when it appeared that the ferry service might no longer receive support. However, the ferry service continued uninterrupted.
Our government understands that marine transportation is a significant part of Canada's history. Our government understands how ferry services allow for greater economic development and the building of stronger and more integrated communities. Our government understands also the benefits that ferry services provide. As we have said before and continue to say, support for the Wood Islands-Caribou ferry service will continue under this government. Support for a sustainable economy that meets the diverse transportation needs of the island's businesses will continue, and support for our local communities and economic development will continue as well.
However, our government will not support Motion No. 591. Rather, we will continue to support our ferry services and examine options for a long-term approach for the delivery of eastern Canada ferry services.
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View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-06-04 17:35 [p.14629]
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The hon. member for Cardigan will now have his five minutes of reply.
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View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2015-06-04 17:35 [p.14629]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties for being involved in this very important debate. It is a very important issue for eastern Prince Edward Island. In fact, it is a very important issue for all of Prince Edward Island.
I want to thank my hon. colleague from Malpeque. I hope he did not annoy the government too much. I think he kind of straightened out a bit of what the facts were. He takes a slightly different path than I do.
I also want to thank my colleague from Dartmouth. She certainly had words to indicate how important the ferry service was, or is. We certainly do not want to use the past tense on the ferry service that is so vitally important to the economy of eastern Prince Edward Island. I just wish she could speak to her colleagues and indicate how important it is so that they could support this motion.
It is disappointing that the government has indicated that it will not support the motion. This vital ferry service needs to have the support of the Government of Canada, and unfortunately, the ferry and the people of Prince Edward Island and eastern Nova Scotia do not seem to have the support of the government.
The government has to support this critical transportation link with action, not empty words. Supporting this motion would be such a positive step forward and a true indication of the government's support. However, it does not seem to see fit to support the motion, and that is a shame.
I am thankful that my colleagues in the Liberal Party and the opposition have indicated that they will support the motion. I certainly want to thank my hon. colleague from Malpeque for stirring up the place and waking everybody up here and indicating how important this Wood Islands-Caribou ferry service is. My hon. colleague from Charlottetown, who spoke in the first hour of this debate, also indicated its importance and gave his full support. That is so heartwarming for us.
Both members spoke passionately, and they understand the issue. They understand how important it is for the economy, not only for the economy of eastern Prince Edward Island but for the economy of Prince Edward Island as a whole and for sure for Pictou County, Nova Scotia. It is vitally important for Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
My motion is a very simple one. I am asking for stable funding by ensuring that all future contracts are for not less than five years. I believe it only makes common sense to provide some stability to the people of Prince Edward Island, and eastern Prince Edward Island in particular, and to Pictou County, Nova Scotia. This is vital for the Pictou County area.
Second, I am asking that the current levels of service be maintained or exceeded. It is absolutely useless to run a ferry service on a part-time basis. The service has to be provided for the public. We have to make sure that we have the vessels there to run the service and to make sure they operate in a timely fashion so that we do not affect the economy of eastern Prince Edward Island.
It is not unreasonable for the people of Cardigan to expect more stable support from the Government of Canada to ensure that the Wood Islands-Caribou ferry service has a long-term contract, which would provide stability and hopefully would maintain or exceed the current levels.
As has been said here by everybody, including my hon. colleague from the Miramichi, tourism would be affected drastically if this was not funded, as would agriculture. All members would have to do is ask Tom Carver, Morley Annear, or Red Trainor of M&M trucking just what it means when they are even trucking lime. We have to make sure that we have the proper service.
Once again, I ask my hon. colleagues from across the way to please show some support for eastern Prince Edward Island and Pictou County, Nova Scotia. All we need to know is that the government is committed to this service and is committed to the economy of eastern Prince Edward Island and Pictou County, Nova Scotia. I ask them to look at the words the member for Miramichi said.
It is no good to just say the words. It also has to support it with action and funding. If we do not have the action and funding, it will hurt or have a very negative effect on the economy of eastern Prince Edward Island.
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View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-06-04 17:40 [p.14630]
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The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 10, 2015, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2015-05-27 17:27 [p.14246]
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It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 444 under private members' business.
Call in the members.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2015-05-27 18:10 [p.14247]
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I declare the motion defeated.
It being 6:10 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.
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View Kirsty Duncan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kirsty Duncan Profile
2015-05-13 18:13 [p.13863]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Motion No. 444 because we absolutely need a national action plan to end violence against women and we need a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls immediately. Our party, the Liberal Party, has been pushing very hard for both of these fundamental issues.
I am profoundly saddened that such a motion is even needed in this millennium, in the year 2015, and that such a motion is needed to make the current government act. The motion is indeed needed because the level of violence that women and girls experience in Canada has changed little over the past two decades; that is, the current response to violence against women and girls failed to significantly lower the levels of violence they experience. I thank the member for Churchill for bringing this forward.
Civil society, including the YWCA and the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters & Transition Houses, has been clear. In order to build a Canada where women and girls are not subjected daily to violence simply because of their gender, our governments must take a new approach.
Canada needs a coherent, coordinated, well-resourced national action plan on violence against women. This will require the leadership of the federal government, along with the co-operation of provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, as well as on- and off-reserve first nation and aboriginal governments.
The process of constructing a national action plan will be key in determining the plan's success. There are many individuals, organizations, communities, and researchers working diligently to end violence against women. In my riding of Etobicoke North, I want to recognize the extraordinary life-saving work of Ernestine's Women's Shelter, a touchstone in our community, and all of those who work and volunteer for the organization.
The government must draw upon the diversity and depth of knowledge and experience offered by these communities, organizations, and individuals, and the final national action plan must clearly reflect the findings of those communities, organizations, and individuals.
Canadians should know that the rates of self-reported spousal violence in 2009 are the same as in 2004. We know from our daily lives that gender-based violence remains rampant. The facts support this conclusion: half of women in Canada—half—have suffered physical or sexual violence.
I do want to briefly touch upon sexual violence.
According to a 2013 Statistics Canada report that relied upon police-reported data, women aged 15 to 24 experience the highest rates of sexual violence in the country. Women reported 460,000 incidents of sexual assault to social service providers in 2009, but less than 10% were reported to the police.
I have asked the Minister of Status of Women to put the issue of sexual assault at Canadian post-secondary institutions on her next federal/provincial/territorial meeting agenda, as an estimated nearly one in five women are likely to be sexually assaulted as students.
In our country, on any given night, 4,600 women and their 3,600 children are forced to sleep in emergency shelters as a result of violence. On a single day, 379 women and 215 children were turned away from shelters in Canada, usually because they were stretched to capacity.
Exactly when did we, as a society, become accustomed to violence? Why do some men still respond angrily when the issue of gender-based violence is raised? Why does the government respond to a long-standing serious crisis in our country in a fragmented and piecemeal fashion?
Violence against women and girls is abhorrent. It is a human rights violation, with devastating and serious impacts that may last generations.
Each year in Canada, violence and abuse drive over 100,000 women and children out of their homes and into shelters. Women in Canada continue to outnumber men nine to one as victims of assault by a spouse or partner.
Girls between the ages of 12 and 15 are at the greatest risk of sexual assault by a family member. The human costs of violence are incalculable.
There are also economic costs. According to a study by the Department of Justice, violence against women costs Canadian society $7.4 billion each year, including $21 million in hospitalizations, visits to doctors and emergency rooms, as well as $180 million in related mental health costs.
On August, 2013, the Minister of Health spoke at the meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, or CMA, where she announced she would make ending family violence the theme of her tenure. She repeated a similar message at the most recent meeting of the CMA in April 2014. I know her work in this area, but Canadians are still waiting for a national action plan to end violence.
Under international law every country has an obligation to address violence against women. The United Nations has called on all countries to have a national action plan by 2015. Other countries have developed such a model, such as the U.K. and Australia.
Currently, Canada has no comprehensive national plan or strategy to deal with violence against women. Initiatives at the federal level lack co-ordination, rely too heavily on the criminal justice system, and fail to acknowledge the gender dimension and root causes of violence against women.
Although Status of Women Canada lists ending violence against women as a priority area of their funding program, the rates of violence have yet to change. Does this not lead to questions about the effectiveness of the funding models at Status of Women Canada?
This results in underfunded and inadequate services that do not reflect women's lived realities, or effectively prevent violence and reduce impact. National action plans provide a framework for strengthening the systems that respond to violence against women. They establish national standards and call for collaboration between all levels of government, civil society, survivors and service responders. They put women's knowledge, experiences and needs at the centre.
A national action plan in Canada would help ensure: consistency across and within jurisdictions in policies and legislation; shared understanding of the root causes of violence against women; consistent approaches to prevention of and responses to violence; collective pursuit of the most appropriate solutions; and co-ordinated, clear and effective services, and systems for survivors that respect and respond to diversity.
Other needs include: new commitments and clear targets; effective prevention mechanisms; universal coverage of response mechanisms for survivors; review of all justice mechanisms, including policing, prosecution and offender management practices; efforts to strengthen social policies that affect women's vulnerability to violence; support for reliable data collection; and I could go on.
The time has come that we no longer talk about reducing violence against women, but actually end emotional, financial, physical, psychological and sexual violence. To do this there needs to be a concerted and sustained effort to develop a national action plan to end violence against women and girls, with real consultation with those women who are fleeing violence, with shelters and support services, with the provinces and territories. We need a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls immediately.
It is time for all of us to stand up and say that violence against women is not okay and that the time for action is now, so that no women will ever again face violence at the hands of a man.
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View Peggy Nash Profile
NDP (ON)
View Peggy Nash Profile
2015-05-13 18:23 [p.13864]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate this evening on this very important motion, Motion No. 444, to create a national action plan to address violence against women.
I would like to thank my colleague from Churchill who has been tireless in her advocacy for this national plan and who is standing up strongly for an inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women. I would like to salute her and thank her for all of her hard work.
It is really shameful that we even need to have this debate. Clearly, we need a national action plan to address violence against women and girls in this country. It should not be necessary because for so many years this is something that has been urged for, both domestically and internationally. Even the UN has been calling for Canada to adopt this plan.
The rates of violence against women and girls in Canada is persistently and shockingly high, especially for doubly-disadvantaged, indigenous, racialized, LGBTTQ women, and those with disabilities. These calls for a national action plan come from all feminist women's organizations across the country. The government, clearly, needs to respond in creating this plan. It is fundamentally important for women in this country.
Let me just quote a credible, long-time activist organization, one that provides services for women in Canada, which is the YWCA. Ann Decter, who is the director of advocacy and public policy, wrote, “Canada needs a national action plan on violence against women that will set national standards for prevention, support services, legal services and access to justice and crucial social policies, such as access to safe, affordable housing. A National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women needs to be part of the plan. M-444 provides for all of this, and as such, has our full support.”
Therefore, what is called for is clear. Women's organizations are speaking with one voice on this and it is long overdue that our government take action.
I want to give a couple of recent examples of what is happening in my city of Toronto.
On May 8, we had the murder of Suraiya Gangaram who was 31 and a single mom of three daughters. Her alleged murderer had threatened to kill her last year. He was out on bail and required to stay away from her. Nevertheless, he killed her and then threw himself in front of a train, but lived and, of course, will stand trial for this murder. However, she is now deceased and her three daughters are left without anyone to care for them.
Just last year we had another horrible, tragic case of 43-year old Zahra Abdilla who was murdered as were her two sons. They were killed in their home in Toronto. What was particularly tragic was that Mrs. Abdilla had been in a shelter for two weeks. She had been fighting to get custody of her sons, but could not afford a lawyer and had no options. There was no second-stage housing for her to go to with her sons, so she returned to her abusive husband and their home. She was killed and her husband subsequently committed suicide.
These are just a couple of the many examples of murder, but there are all kinds of other horrible situations of sexual violence and abuse.
In my own community of Parkdale—High Park, about a decade ago, a woman, Rosie McGroarty, was bludgeoned to death by her partner. It was a particularly gruesome case. I will not go into details, but it was again a situation that brought home the terrible reality of the kind of violence that far too many women are facing.
These are extreme examples, but the reality is that half of all women have experienced an incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, and of course, an issue that has been all too prevalent in this House has been the call for an inquiry into the more than 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in this country and a call for the government, finally, to take action.
Instead, the government has cut many women's programs. We have certainly seen a failure to act in terms of funding for housing, affordable housing, second stage housing. The government cut and abolished the court challenges program. It slashed the budget of the Status of Women Agency by 70%. It took the word “equality” out of the Status of Women Agency's mandate.
It erroded pay equity legislation, blocked the NDP bill on trans rights. In case after case, whether it is failing to create even one child care space in this country, failing to have a national housing strategy, the government has failed women in this country.
I want to salute the many community members across this country who are trying desperately to fill in the gaps and are taking action. I want to salute, for example, in my own community the Redwood Women's Shelter, which is a safe haven for women who are leaving an abusive relationship, which is one of the most difficult things for a woman to do, especially if she has children. However, Redwood and its wonderful staff and volunteers provides emotional, practical and social support for women and their children while they are in that safe haven. It has a very high success rate: 80% of the women who are fortunate enough to find support at Redwood Shelter do not go back to their abusive relationship.
I want to salute the Parkdale anti-violence education group. I have worked with them to create a scholarship in the name of Rosie McGroarty, the woman who was very brutally murdered in our community. I especially want to salute Parkdale Community Legal Services and its community outreach person, Peggy-Gail Dehal-Ramson, who has been a real leader in working with women who have faced violence and are trying to get their lives back on track. She has provided really inspiring community development work with so many women in our community.
These community organizations exist across the country along with a small army of volunteers. Women, primarily, but some women and men who want to try to eliminate this terrible situation of persistent violence against women and girls need government leadershp.
In closing, I want to be very clear what it is that we want. We want the Government of Canada to finally commit to the creation of a national action plan to address violence against women. We want it to do this in consultation and partnership with the provinces, territories, first nations, Inuit and Métis, governments and communities. We want broad consultation in all regions to include these front line service providers, housing advocates, legal advocates, law enforcement personnel, survivors and marginalized women advocates. This is long overdue.
I salute my colleague for bringing this motion forward and I challenge all members in this House to adopt this motion and finally take definitive action to help women and girls across this country.
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View Susan Truppe Profile
CPC (ON)
View Susan Truppe Profile
2015-05-13 18:33 [p.13865]
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Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate on the motion before the House today, put forward by the member for Churchill. It deals with the very important issue of ending violence against women and girls. Our government takes the issue of violence against women and girls very seriously, and we have taken a multi-faceted approach to addressing it. Allow me to take a few moments to discuss some of the actions that we have taken.
We have made communities safer for all Canadians by enacting over 30 measures into law since 2006. For example, amendments to the Criminal Code made under the Safe Streets and Communities Act that came into force in 2012 promote safety and security. They also assist in holding criminals fully accountable for their actions through increased penalties for violent crimes, including child sexual offences, and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences and house arrest for serious and violent crimes.
Another example is Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, which came into force in March. It provides for a new Criminal Code offence, the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which prohibits the sharing or distribution of nude or sexual images without the consent of the person depicted.
We have supported the needs of victims with Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, which received royal assent on April 23. This bill provides rights for victims of crime, many of which will benefit women who have experienced violence. For example, the bill gives victims the right to have their security and privacy considered, the right to be protected from intimidation and retaliation, the right to request the protection of their identity if they are a complainant or witness in a criminal justice proceeding, and the right to request testimonial aids.
Another recent example is Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. This bill would address forms of family violence that are predominately perpetrated against women and girls. It contains proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, creating a new form of inadmissibility to Canada for those practising polygamy. It includes proposed amendments to the Civil Marriage Act to codify the requirement for free and enlightened consent to marriage and to introduce a new national absolute minimum age for marriage of 16. The bill would also introduce proposed new offences in the Criminal Code related to forced or underage marriages. It would extend the offence of removing a child from Canada to include removal for the purpose of a forced or underage marriage abroad, introduce a new forced or underage marriage peace bond to prevent these marriages from taking place, and limit the application of the defence of provocation so that it would not be available in honour killings and some spousal homicides.
These examples highlight the leadership role of our government in responding to violence against women and girls by establishing a strong legislative framework to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account. These legislative actions are a critical element of the multi-faceted approach that we have put in place to reduce and prevent violence against women and girls.
I would now like to describe some of the actions that we have taken beyond legislation. The Government of Canada has allocated more than $140 million since 2006 to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system through initiatives delivered by Justice Canada. Last September, we launched the latest phase of the stop hating online campaign to combat cyberbullying. This is a national awareness campaign to protect our children and youth from cyberbullying. On February 20, the Government of Canada announced a 10-year $100-million investment to prevent, detect and combat family violence and child abuse as part of our government's commitment to stand up for victims.
On April 1, the Government of Canada began the implementation of its action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls. We also continued collaborating with aboriginal leaders, aboriginal communities and other levels of government to get the most out of our respective action plans.
Our government also believes in giving communities the tools to help end violence against women and girls. That is why we have increased funding to Status of Women Canada, including the women's program, to record levels. In fact, we have invested over $162 million in more than 780 projects through Status of Women Canada since 2007. This includes over $71 million in projects to specifically address violence against women and girls. These efforts include a number of different calls for proposals for projects in rural and remote communities and in post-secondary campus communities.
Another call for proposals is helping communities respond to cyber and sexual violence. More than $6 million has been invested in these projects through Status of Women Canada so far.
My view is that we must continue taking actions like the ones I have described today, and therefore I will not be supporting this motion. However, we must continue working together because we know that no single individual, organization or government working alone can address the problem of gender-based violence.
We have made this issue such an important priority because we know that helping women and girls live violence-free lives is the right thing to do. However, we also know something else. We know that enabling women and girls to live free of violence removes a barrier to achieving their full potential for themselves, their families and their communities. Doing that will move us closer to equality in our country, which is something we all wish to see.
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View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2015-05-13 18:39 [p.13866]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Churchill for bringing this motion to the floor. I am pleased to speak in support of Motion No. 444 to look at a national action plan to end violence against women in our society. I would think that all Canadians want to see an end to violence because we know what the impact is upon all women, whether it is violence in the home, sexual harassment in the workplace or sexual assault. No matter what the case may be, it does pose many barriers for women to be able to progress and move forward and live a life without fear, stress and restraint. Those things are very important.
In 2015, it is unimaginable that any woman has to endure sexual assault or sexual misconduct in the workplace. It is unbelievable that any woman has to endure violence within the home and feel there is no avenue for escape, and feel that there are no other options available to her. We live in Canada. We live in a society where we look after those who are important to us, those people whom we represent.
In 2015, we should not have women marching in the streets asking for initiatives to end violence against women. However, unfortunately, that is where we are and that is the society that we are living in. It is very saddening that we even have to bring this motion to the floor of the House of Commons for debate, to call upon members of Parliament from across Canada to support a strategy like this. It is a strategy that should already be in place. We should be looking to end violence against women and not just to develop a strategy at this stage.
Unfortunately, this motion is needed. It is needed so that the level of violence against women and girls in Canada can be eliminated, so that what we have seen over the last decades will be no more. That is what all women and children out there want to see. They want to see a civil society where they are free to grow, learn and examine every opportunity that is open to them, and where they are not subjected daily to violence because of their gender.
In a country like Canada, we have the resources to not only develop a national action plan on violence against women, but we have the resources to ensure that the plan works, to ensure that resources are available to all communities, towns, cities and people who need it. However, it cannot happen without leadership. I listened to the member opposite on the government side talk about the initiatives that her government has brought forward to help women in society and the changes the Conservatives have made within the justice system to ensure greater penalties to those who commit the crimes of violence against women and girls.
No one is disputing that. What we are asking for is more, because we know that more can and should be done. There are a lot of communities around Canada where women are violently abused within their homes and have no place to seek refuge. There is no shelter. There are no programs that cater to the violence that they endure. The women do not often see a way out.
Last night, I sat in a session viewing the film Highway of Tears that talked about the many missing women and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
One woman who spoke at the launching of the film talked about 21 years of enduring violence from the person she had married, her spouse. Twenty-one years feeling there was no refuge, that there was nowhere to go and 21 years of enduring violence and feeling she had no way out. Is that we want for the next decade in this country? I do not think so.
What we really want is a coherent, coordinated plan that works, that brings resources to the people who need it. We need women to feel safe and secure in their homes, safe and secure to raise their children and to live their lives. There are so many women who do not have that option and we often fail to recognize that.
When we talk about an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in this country, it is not talk. There are 1,021 women missing or murdered in this country. Some of them on the Highway of Tears that I have spoken about, some of them in other regions of Canada and some of them from my home. It is not acceptable for the Government of Canada to say it will not do an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. The message we are sending is that it is not that important. That is wrong.
How do we ever end violence against women if we are not prepared to get to the root of where these problems come from? Whether it is in aboriginal communities or non-aboriginal communities, what message do we send to the perpetrators of violence against women when we say we do not want an inquiry into over 1,000 Canadian aboriginal, indigenous, Inuit, Métis, first nations women who have died or gone missing?
The message is not a good one that we send. We do not end violence against women by ignoring these issues and assaults. We end violence against women by acting upon it. We are not going to end violence against women just because we increase the sentences of those who commit the crime. That is one very small part of it.
What about the reoffenders? What about the guy I met in a correctional centre who was serving his sixth sentence for violent assault against his wife? It was his sixth time in the lock-up for violently assaulting his wife. It is okay if we add three or four months more onto his sentence, but have we really ended violence against that woman?
These are the questions that we have to ask ourselves when we look at issues like this. This is not a statistic. It is real and it is happening. I am not the only person who can stand in the House of Commons today and tell the many stories of violence against women that should be prevented, that should be ended, and the need that we have to do that. There are so many other members of Parliament who can do the same.
While I thank my colleague from Churchill for bringing this motion forward and standing up for this issue, I also want to encourage all members of Parliament to support this and do everything they can as a parliamentarian to enact this strategy and ensure it has the resources that work. We must really put our efforts into ending violence against women in Canada.
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View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2015-05-13 18:49 [p.13867]
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Mr. Speaker, it is my absolute privilege to stand in support of the motion by my colleague, the member for Churchill, the official opposition critic for aboriginal peoples. She continues to be a staunch advocate in whatever portfolio she is in. I know she represents many Métis and first nations in her constituency, and she does them proud, not simply in speaking for them but in being a voice here and sharing their stories and desires.
This motion put forward by my colleague, remarkably, does not simply ask for a coordinated national action plan to address violence against women but asks that it be done in direct collaboration with the provinces, the territories, civil society, first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and their representatives. This is something we do not see happening under the current government. It is time we brought everyone together who has some power in this country. We need every order of government to come together, including indigenous peoples, to address this inequity, and inequity it is.
When we listen to the speeches that have been given on this important motion, we hear about the vulnerability of the women of this country—elderly women being the poorest of the poor, indigenous women being the poorest of the poor—simply because they are born into an indigenous community. My province and my city have, sadly, experienced a very high proportion of this violence. Between 1980 and 2012, Statistics Canada reports that over 740 of the almost 6,500 female homicides in Canada occurred in Alberta. Almost one-half of those were aboriginal women. This does not include the many aboriginal women and girls who remain missing.
The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, of which I am proud to say I was one of the co-founders, advises that 700 to 900 clients a year come to them. Shockingly, these range from the age of three years and up. This is a matter that affects Canadian women of every age. The centre advises that one in three girls will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. This has to stop.
The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters advised me that despite the pressing need, including on aboriginal reserves, there has been no increase in funding for shelters for women who are victims of violence since 2007. As we are here today, only two of those communities have shelters, despite the violence they face.
It is a national problem. Women's shelters have been under-supported everywhere. In Alberta, as I said, there are only two second-stage shelters for abused women and their children to adjust to a more secure life. The majority of women seeking safe shelter do not fall within the government definition of the chronically homeless, so they do not have access to the shelters that many men do, and there has been no new money committed for housing. The shelter enhancement fund remains, unbelievably, $130,000 a year for all of these women suffering this abuse.
I intend to focus the remainder of my remarks in support of Motion No. 444 on addressing the critical situation faced by aboriginal women in our society who are seeking violence-free lives. I again commend my colleague, the member for Churchill, who has spoken not only for action to address violence against all women but has stood time after time in this place begging the government to listen to the first nations people of this country and initiate a national inquiry, which is long overdue.
Nationally, aboriginal women make up only 4% of our population yet are 16% of those murdered and 11% of those missing. The RCMP has advised that these statistics likely miss many cases. However, it is critical, in understanding the need to take the action set forth in her motion, to recognize that we are not just speaking about mere statistics. We must realize that these more than 1,100 missing and murdered aboriginal women are someone's mother, someone's sister, someone's daughter, and someone's friend and neighbour.
Missing since February of this year in my province is Misty Potts, a 37-year-old mother from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. She has her master's in environmental sciences and is an outspoken advocate against environmental degradation and the impact on aboriginal people, yet she is a victim of violence.
Missing is Shelly Dene, from Fort McMurray and Fort McKay, since August 2013. She is a mother and a student.
Cindy Gladue, 36 years old, was a homicide victim. She was a mother of three, and it took first nations people taking to the streets of Edmonton for the government finally to agree to appeal the acquittal in that case.
Because of the rising number of cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women, every aboriginal woman is left feeling vulnerable and at risk.
Katherine Swampy, an aboriginal woman from Alberta, bravely ran for office in Alberta for the New Democrats. This is the story she shared with us. She said that the comment she received in social media that hurt her the most was a Facebook message that said:
I support Katherine Swampy and I support the NDP. It's just too bad she has a higher chance of turning up missing than she does of winning this constituency.
It is a sad state of affairs in our country. She said that really struck a nerve, because a childhood friend had been murdered in Calgary just months before.
Her concern is well founded. The Action Coalition on Human Trafficking, an Alberta-based group addressing human trafficking that has been engaged in a project funded, interestingly, by Public Safety Canada, in 2013 and 2014, identified that aboriginal girls and women are easy prey for human traffickers due to poverty, drug addiction, and mental health problems. It reported that 15% of sex trafficked cases are aboriginal women. It is very, very sad.
The current government says that we do not need special action, but even the public safety department is saying that there is a concern about aboriginal women, so we should be acting on those findings and taking action.
This national inquiry my colleague has called for is supported by the former Treaty 6 Grand Chief Mackinaw; the current Treaty 6 Grand Chief Bernice Martial; the Canadian Human Rights Commission; the Native Women's Association of Canada; the Assembly of First Nations; all 48 Treaty 8 chiefs, by resolution; the Inter-American Commission, which is an affiliate of the Organization of American States; and all of the Canadian premiers. I am pleased to say that the Alberta premier-elect has reversed what Jim Prentice had said. She says that she is joining all the premiers in supporting the call for an inquiry.
What more do we need to show the current Conservative government that this inquiry needs to proceed?
I personally can attest to the many frigid winter evenings that aboriginal elders, leaders, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and cousins have marched in support of the long-desired and long-awaited national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. I have been privileged to join them.
The government complains that most of this violence is happening within families. Well, the aboriginal families understand that they need to do their part, and I am proud to say that I am wearing a piece of moose hide, which was gifted to me by the friendship centres today. It is part of an action the aboriginal men of Canada are taking called “I am a Kind Man” to encourage all first nation men and boys to honour, respect, and protect women and children.
As Tanya Kappo, an Alberta first nation woman, mother, and lawyer has commented, a national inquiry would examine the underlying causes of missing and murdered aboriginal women. It would provide the opportunity to examine the roles played by our justice and police systems and the role of the residential school legacy so as to prevent and reduce these vulnerabilities.
As Ms. Kappo shared two years ago at my public forum, she worked hard to raise her children and to become educated as a lawyer, yet when she left the forum that night, she too would be vulnerable to attack.
What more must be done by aboriginal girls and women in this country for us to finally address this travesty?
In closing, I encourage every member of this place to take the opportunity to view Walking With Our Sisters, the more than 1,100 pairs of moccasin vamps that show us clearly all of those lost souls.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2015-05-13 18:59 [p.13869]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to take part in the debate on Motion No. 444, presented by the hon. member for Churchill. In my remarks I will be addressing the components of the motion that touch directly on the mandate of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. First, I will address the proposal for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls. Second, I will address the proposal for strategies that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of different communities, with specific attention to aboriginal women.
Let me begin by emphasizing our government's continuing deep concern about missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada. We regard all acts of violence against aboriginal women and girls as abhorrent and intolerable.
As the House will appreciate, reducing violence requires a collective effort by all sectors of society involved, including government at all levels, aboriginal organizations, the judiciary, the police, and aboriginal communities themselves. We saw just such a gathering on February 27, 2015, when representatives of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, aboriginal leaders, and affected families met in Ottawa for the national round table on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The objective of this round table, coordinated by the Assembly of First Nations, was to work toward better prevention, safety, policing, and justice measures to address, in a concerted and collaborative way, violence against aboriginal women and girls across the country.
Allow me to reiterate that crucial point. We are all involved, and we all have a role to play in finding a solution to these heinous acts of violence that cause individuals, families, and communities such terrible grief.
Aboriginal organizations and family members have told us that what is needed now on this issue is action rather than inquiries, and that is exactly what this government is providing. Several families and witnesses who appeared before the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, of which I was a member, expressed the wish that the committee's report include recommendations that would make a real difference in the lives of aboriginal women and girls. In fact, there have already been over 40 studies related to the issue of violence against aboriginal women and girls, and every one of those studies urged action.
As the House is aware, the RCMP national operational overview, released on May 16, 2014, provided critical information on the nature and extent of this issue. The report reaffirmed earlier findings on key vulnerability factors for aboriginal women and girls and common factors among perpetrators. It is the most comprehensive account of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada to date and was compiled with the assistance of Statistics Canada and 300 policing agencies across the country.
The action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls, which our government released on September 15, 2014, builds on the knowledge gathered through our previous investments and the many studies and reports on this issue, including the RCMP's national operational overview. This action plan, therefore, has an extremely solid and well-considered foundation. It thoroughly reflects our government's conviction that strong, concerted action is needed on this issue now. Moreover, it responds to all 16 of the recommendations identified in the report of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women.
In developing the action plan, the Minister of Status of Women met with leaders of several aboriginal organizations and communities as well as with a number of individual victims and families. These discussions identified the following priority areas: preventing violence by supporting community level solutions, supporting aboriginal victims with appropriate services, and protecting aboriginal women and girls by investing in shelters and continuing to improve Canada's law enforcement and justice systems. The action plan includes a new investment of $25 million to support our work on these three priorities with aboriginal communities and stakeholders and provinces and territories. In total, the range of measures focused on this issue is nearly $200 million.
The investment in shelters through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's family violence prevention program is an important component of the action plan. This program supports 41 centres throughout the country. These shelters offer women and their children a safe and welcoming environment in times of crisis. Most provide culturally sensitive counselling and programs, such as family violence prevention, parenting and life skills training, traditional healing programs and mental health support.
As of April 1, the budget for the family violence prevention program increased to $31.7 million per year, with an additional $1.3 million available for family violence prevention activities both on and off reserve. In addition, the program allocates funding to the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence to provide a national coordinating role by supporting shelters and their staff through training forums, gatherings, research and collaboration with key partners.
Specific measures set out in the action plan to prevent violence include the development of more community safety plans on and off reserve across Canada. This initiative allows communities to take ownership of the issues and develop culturally sensitive, local solutions. The action plan also supports projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse by raising awareness and building healthy relationships.
As I noted earlier, reducing violence is a task that requires the contributions of many committed partners. In that regard, our government's efforts complement equally important work being done by the provinces and territories, police and the justice system, as well as aboriginal families, communities and organizations, to address violence against aboriginal women and girls.
We will continue to work closely with these partners, carrying out concrete measures that will bring about a real difference to aboriginal families and communities. Only concerted action, rather than more studies or public inquiries, will enable us to tackle this intolerable situation.
To conclude my remarks, I would like to focus on the second component of the motion relevant to the mandate of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, mainly the proposal for strategies that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of different communities, including specific attention to aboriginal women.
I am pleased to remind the House of the range of programs our government has available to help meet the needs of aboriginal women. These include pre-employment support, such as literacy and life skills training. These initiatives will enhance the employability of eligible first nations women.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada also recognizes the needs of aboriginal women who are aspiring entrepreneurs. The department has in fact exceeded the initial commitment of $1 million in funding for aboriginal women in economic development, announced in 2010, in support of the implementation of the federal framework for aboriginal economic development. To date, we have committed to fund 21 projects totalling more than $2.6 million in direct support of aboriginal women in their entrepreneurial careers.
In addition, through the urban aboriginal strategy, the department assists aboriginal women off-reserve to develop the skills they need to join the labour market. Of course, there are aboriginal skills and employment training strategies, the skills and partnership fund and the first nations job fund, all of which aim to increase the participation of aboriginal people, including women and girls, in the job market.
Our government is dedicated to supporting brighter, safe, secure futures for aboriginal women and girls throughout the country. I can assure every member of the House that we will continue to pursue relentlessly, with all our partners, the imperative objective of reducing violence against aboriginal women and girls.
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View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
View Niki Ashton Profile
2015-05-13 19:08 [p.13870]
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Mr. Speaker, I am exceptionally proud to stand here and be part of the movement to bring a national action plan to address violence against women in Canada. I would like to thank my sisters and brothers in the NDP who have joined me in championing this critical issue.
Since the beginning of my time as an MP, in every region of the country I have heard from women who have experienced violence. These women are survivors and they are strong. I am honoured that they took it upon themselves to share their stories with me because they hoped that I and that we could make a difference. I want to thank all the people who placed their trust in me and our team to bring their voices forward in the House. I hope every parliamentarian will recognize that it is in his or her power right now to make a difference for women who have survived violence, women who live with violence, and women who dream of growing up and living in a world free of violence.
Women are strong as hell. All studies, statistics and common sense prove that when women are secure and thriving, so too are their families, their communities and our societies. When women are empowered to advocate for themselves and take up space in politics and business and activism, we see all people everywhere reap the benefits. This is the Canada in which I want to live.
Therefore, with the support of many, I have placed before the House a proposal to create a national action plan to end violence against women. The YWCA, the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters & Transition Houses, DAWN Canada, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Families of Sisters in Spirit along with quite a few other major national anti-violence organizations have done tireless work to coordinate consensus and awareness around a national action plan, and I want to thank them for their work.
I have travelled across our country to talk to women and to hear from organizations on the ground about what a national action plan could mean to them. Everywhere I went, I heard similar stories about underfunding, lack of coordination and the frustration of not being able to see change at the systemic level.
In Victoria, B.C., we heard from Victoria Pruden at the Bridges for Women Society. She said:
We at Bridges for Women Society wholeheartedly support the call for a national plan of action on violence against women. Every day we see not only the human cost of violence to women and children, but the economic costs of violence and trauma to Canadians...we need a national action plan NOW.
Jenny Wright, the executive director of Marguerite's Place in Newfoundland, who works on the other end of the country bringing justice and safety to women, particularly sex workers, shared a similar message. She said:
Years of funding cuts and closures, and silencing of women's organizations are in themselves a pervasive form of violence against women. Federal policy must act to strengthen women's organizations and to secure sustainable funding, so they do not continue to be casualties of the fluctuations in our economy, political agendas, and our laws.
I am deeply grateful to the movement of like-minded women, to the movement of feminists who are pushing for this change. I would remind the members of the House that a national action plan has been enacted with great success elsewhere in the world, in countries like Australia and the United States. The vote on this motion could be the first among many positive steps toward healing and empowerment.
I have been east, west, north, south. I have been in urban centres and rural communities. I have been to first nations and Métis communities. What is clear is that we must listen to women. We must listen to their stories of intersectional oppression, to indigenous women, disabled women, women of colour, refugee women, queer women and trans women. They are all facing major systemic challenges, which leave them increasingly vulnerable to violence. There is much work we can do to help. All we need to do is listen to their words.
The need for action of this kind is one of the most urgent issues facing our country. I hope we can see past our partisan aspirations to take real action on this front. Let us not waste more time, and let us stand up in support of a national action plan to end violence against women.
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View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-05-13 19:13 [p.13871]
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The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 27, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
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View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
View Niki Ashton Profile
2015-04-28 18:11 [p.13158]
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moved:
Motion No. 444
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should develop, in collaboration with the provinces, territories, civil society and First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their representatives, a coordinated National Action Plan to Address Violence Against Women which would include: (a) initiatives to address socio-economic factors contributing to violence against women; (b) policies to prevent violence against women and policies to respond to survivors of violence; (c) benchmarks for measuring progress based on the collection of data on levels of violence against women over time; (d) independent research on emerging issues that relate to violence against women; (e) a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls; (f) strategies that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of different communities including specific attention to Aboriginal women, women with disabilities, women from minority groups and young women; (g) participation by community and other civil society organizations, including support for those organizations to participate in the implementation of the national action plan; and (h) human and financial resources earmarked specifically to carry out the program of action set by the plan.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to rise to support Motion No. 444, a motion to create a national action plan to address violence against women.
It is a privilege to move such a motion in the House.
It is my great privilege to sponsor this motion, which is the only meaningful legislation to address violence against women that Canada has seen in decades. Now the need for action is urgent. The next steps are clearly laid out by feminist anti-violence advocates across our country. They are asking for a national, coordinated, comprehensive action plan that works in partnership with provincial, territorial, and indigenous governments.
It is my sincere hope that, with this motion, we can resolve together to set Canada on the path toward sustained and substantive equality for women and girls, because we know that without freedom from violence, women cannot achieve equality and, without gender equality, women will always remain vulnerable to violence.
I would like to begin my speech by thanking the advocates, front-line workers, survivors, and community members who have taken time out from their extremely busy schedules and busy lives to meet with me as I travelled from region to region over the past three years. These remarkable people have dedicated themselves to confronting the violence women face every single day, and they deserve honour and gratitude from the House and from all Canadians.
It is due to the extraordinary efforts of this chronically underfunded and under-resourced sector that women find safety, support, and justice. While the needs of women vary quite a bit between regions and communities, the majority of people I met with had a very singular message to deliver to their federal government: violence against women is a crisis in Canada and it is getting worse, not better.
This crisis is fed by systemic gender-based discrimination and women's inequality. Likewise, the way forward for our government is to empower women to address that inequality. To do nothing is to perpetuate it. To do too little is to perpetuate it. To ignore the voices of survivors, family members, evidence-based researchers, and front-line service providers who know what Canada can be doing right now is to willfully neglect the safety of women in our country.
What would a national action plan do to change the landscape of anti-violence services for women? Ann Decter, the director of advocacy and public policies for YWCA Canada says:
Canada needs a national action plan on violence against women that will set national standards for prevention, support services, legal services and access to justice and crucial social policies, such as access to safe, affordable housing. A National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women needs to be part of the plan. M-444 provides for all of this, and as such, has our full support.
Not only has the federal government not done enough to recognize, treat, and prevent violence against women, but for the past several decades under the Liberals and the Conservatives, the governments have adopted policy that actively places vulnerable women further at risk.
For example, when the Liberals came to power in 1993, they cut off federal investment in new social housing projects. In 1996, the Liberal government announced the end of the national affordable housing program. By the late nineties, it had created a serious housing shortage that has directly resulted in the increased vulnerability of women who must leave situations of domestic violence. Indeed, a lack of affordable housing is the number one reason why women cannot functionally escape the violence they face.
Needless to say, the Conservatives have continued to abandon their responsibility to deal with housing problems, and it is Canadian women who continue to bear the brunt of this burden.
When the Liberal government downloaded legal aid onto the provinces and cut off all earmarked funding, it created conditions in which women now find it nearly impossible to seek justice and safety through the courts.
When the Conservatives elected to forbid funding to any research or advocacy, Canada fell into a state of having little to no data regarding violence against women. This is a very serious problem, and only a national action plan could begin to solve it.
Kate MacInturff, one of Canada's foremost feminist voices writes:
The difficulty of collecting data about violence against women has been a barrier to progress in ending that violence. However, the data that does exist tells us three things very clearly: this problem is big, it comes at a high cost, and we are making little or no progress in putting a stop to it.
It was the Liberals who were at the helm when poverty conditions on first nations grew worse and worse. Under a majority government, funding for first nations education on reserve was cut. The Conservatives have done nothing to fix this gap. The Auditor General reports that schools on reserve are underfunded by 30% compared with schools off reserve.
We now see indigenous women facing extreme rates of violence that correspond directly to extreme rates of poverty, housing shortages, and a lack of economic opportunities. Make no mistake, the systemic and long-standing underfunding of first nations is a form of racial discrimination against indigenous peoples.
Dr. Dawn Harvard, the interim president of the Native Women's Association of Canada wrote to me and said:
It is crucial that a National Action Plan assess the root causes in order to address Violence Against Women.
The fact that many Aboriginal women were killed by someone who shares their ethnicity is something that holds true for most victims of homicide, regardless of their ethnic origin. Therefore, we cannot write off this issue, by saying it is Aboriginal men killing Aboriginal women, and therefore, is not a federal responsibility or there is not a need for an inquiry or any of these kinds of excuses that seems to be inferred.
We also know that there continues to be non-Aboriginal men that are extremely violent toward Aboriginal women, and that Aboriginal women experience more severe forms of violence by these offenders than non-Aboriginal women so there continues to be racialized hatred and devaluation exhibited against Aboriginal women and this needs to be addressed.
Dr. Harvard went on to say:
A National Action Plan can also create a mechanism for investigations into misconduct and discrimination within the criminal justice system and police forces and needs to establish a mechanism for investigating allegations of misconduct or discrimination within the federal, provincial or territorial components of the criminal justice system, and hold accountable those entities who commit acts of misconduct or discrimination.
M-444 is very clear: a national action plan to address violence against women must include a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. Almost every governing body in Canada, along with the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women's Association of Canada, and many indigenous people, are in agreement that a national inquiry, done properly, is necessary to treat the root causes this tragedy. Only the Conservatives disagree, and they alone stand in opposition to real, substantive action.
Meanwhile women continue to disappear and women continue to be killed. Where I'm from, in northern Manitoba, every single community has been affected by the tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women. The tragic cases of women from our riding, including Lorna Blacksmith, Leah Anderson, and Tina Fontaine, who were murdered in the last few years, have led many Manitobans to speak out and organize. The story and bravery of Rinelle Harper inspired action back home and across the country. For me and for our north, this fight is personal to all of us, and we will not stop until there are no more missing and murdered indigenous women in our country.
While denying the call for a national inquiry and litigating against those who seek to correct funding discrimination against first nations children, this Conservative government repeatedly ignores calls from the UN and other international human rights organizations to take action to address the systemic discrimination, racism, and violence endured by indigenous women and their families.
The relationship between Canada and first nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples is now in a state of crisis. My colleagues in the NDP, including our leader, know there is a different way forward. We are committed to a national inquiry. We are committed to a national action plan. We are committed to a housing strategy that includes indigenous communities both on and off reserve, and we are committed to forming a nation-to-nation relationship that will take all of us forward.
For me, as the member of Parliament for Churchill and the aboriginal affairs critic for the NDP, this is not a theoretical pledge but the first steps toward healing and reconciliation. When we speak about violence against women, it is crucial that we understand the intersectionality that can compound the risk of violence, and advocates across the country know this to be the case every day.
Although violence happens to all women, regardless of class, race, sexuality, or gender identity, it is important to recognize that inequality in all its forms can increase violence in the lives of women. The most effective way to end violence against women is to address the root causes of inequality. Canadian women earn 72% of what men earn and work one-third of minimum wage jobs. We need to address the economic inequality and the feminization of poverty that we are seeing across our country.
Racialized women are often the target of discrimination, stereotyping, and harassment. We need to address racism in Canada.
Many immigrant women are facing isolation and lack of access to anti-violence services. Women are made increasingly vulnerable to abuse when their immigration status is tied to their work visas or their marriage status. We must address the violence faced by immigrants, refugees, and temporary foreign workers who are women.
We must confront transphobia. Earlier today, outside on the lawn of Parliament Hill, trans folks and allies gathered to voice their outrage that the current government will allow Bill C-279 to be destroyed by an unelected Senate. Transgender women face some of the highest rates of violence in the country. Of all marginalized peoples, trans folk immediately require the explicit right to live free of discrimination.
I am proud of the work we have done in the NDP. We have repeatedly brought this bill forward and will continue to do so until this vital piece of human rights legislation is enshrined once and for all.
Disabled women face disproportionate rates of violence. Queer women, women who are lesbians, face disproportionate levels of violence. That intersectional understanding of the violence they face is critical in moving forward with a national action plan.
After speaking to hundreds of women and advocates about this motion, I can say that the one point I heard repeatedly was that anti-violence services cannot continue to function with few or no resources.
The Canadian Network of Women's Shelters & Transition Houses recently published its 2015 shelter voices survey. It found that, on a single day, shelters in Canada welcomed 122 new women residents and 81 child residents. However, on that same day shelters were forced—and are forced—to turn away 302 women and 221 children seeking shelter, due to a lack of resources. It is heartbreaking and infuriating for the service providers. I have been told first-hand from multiple sources that most front-line staff are actively subsidizing the government with free labour.
Let us be clear. This is about the money. Governments choose to prioritize funding, and the violence against women sector is simply underfunded and has been for decades. It has not been prioritized by Liberal or Conservative governments. In the meantime, we are the ones giving voice to the need for a national action plan.
This issue is as personal as it is political for me, my colleagues, and my community. We have seen women, feminists, across the country make history to draw attention to the violence they face on campuses, on social media, in the workplace, and on our streets. Parliament must sit up and pay attention to the conversation women are having on the ground, in classrooms, online, and everywhere. It is our right as women to demand action from the government, and it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to respond and take action.
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View Joy Smith Profile
CPC (MB)
View Joy Smith Profile
2015-04-28 18:26 [p.13160]
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Mr. Speaker, I heard over and over again talk about the root causes of inequality. During committee review of Bill C-36, we heard many compelling testimonies from a broad cross-section of people impacted by prostitution and human trafficking, and none more so than aboriginal women and children. There is a clear link between murdered and missing aboriginal women and prostitution and human trafficking.
During its testimony, the Native Women's Association of Canada was clear that it wanted Canada to target the buyers of sexual services, the men who buy sex from vulnerable aboriginal women and youth. In fact, NWAC stated that it wanted the bill to pass to tackle the demand and said that criminalizing pimps and buyers would be a huge step.
When we talk about the root causes of inequality, tackling the demand for prostitution and human trafficking is part of the steps we need to take to end the travesty of murdered and missing women. Why did the members, at every step of the bill, vote against it?
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View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
View Niki Ashton Profile
2015-04-28 18:27 [p.13160]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to bring the focus back to the need for a national action plan. A national action plan is necessary because of the reality that too many women, including indigenous women, in Canada face. It has been appalling to see a government seek to make women, including sex workers in our country, more vulnerable through its dangerous legislation.
If the government really wanted to act to put an end to violence against indigenous women, or any women, it would begin by saying yes to calling for a national inquiry. It would begin by investing in housing and eradicating poverty. It would begin by building respectful relationships with indigenous communities and respectful relationships with those who work so hard to empower women across the country.
Sadly, the government is doing nothing. All the while, more Canadian women are placed in more and more difficult and vulnerable situations. It is time to act.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2015-04-28 18:28 [p.13161]
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Mr. Speaker, violence against women is a very important issue that we all recognize needs to be given a great deal more attention. I am a bit disappointed in a number of the remarks that portray the Liberals and Conservatives as bad, yet the NDP is on a super high horse. The member needs to get off the super high horse and reflect on the province of Manitoba.
If we look at the serious root causes on a per capita base that lead to violence against women, it is no higher in blame on a political party or a government than the Government of Manitoba. Examples of that would be children unnecessarily being put in jail and issues related to CFS.
If we are to come to grips with the issue of violence against women, we not only need to see a strong federal government, we also need to see a government that is committed to working with provinces and other stakeholders to have that national action plan. Would she not acknowledge the importance of that?
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View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
View Niki Ashton Profile
2015-04-28 18:29 [p.13161]
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Mr. Speaker, if the member had listened to my speech, it was more of a history lesson of the way previous Liberal governments had served to marginalize indigenous communities in our country.
I invite the member to come and visit the northern part of our province and see schools that are mould infested, schools where people do not have enough textbooks to use, where there are not enough specialized teachers to work with the kids. He should visit houses where there are 17 people to a house. This did not just start in the last five, six or seven years. This has gone on for decades and it has been Liberal governments that have failed our indigenous peoples.
Let us bring it back to violence. We know that one of the greatest factors in the vulnerability of women is poverty. Therefore, when there are extreme rates of poverty, in fact, third world living conditions that exist in too many first nations, in Manitoba and across the country, then we have the high rates of violence.
I hope the member and his party learn from the kind of leadership that we have shown in the NDP. We need a national action plan and comprehensive investment. We also need to learn from the history, including the history of the Liberals, that has served us all so poorly.
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View Joy Smith Profile
CPC (MB)
View Joy Smith Profile
2015-04-28 18:31 [p.13161]
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Mr. Speaker, I am so thankful for this opportunity, because I have such good news for the member across the way.
Over and over again, I have heard her say that we have need for an action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls. It just so happens that in my hand is an action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls. It is an excellent action plan. It addresses a lot of the issues that were brought forward not only in her speech, but in speeches in Parliament throughout the duration of this discussion.
When we talk about an action plan to address family violence, there are many factors to it. I want to go over a few aspects of it, because it is here.
All the members opposite have to do is simply support the people who are trying to implement the action plan. In the plan, there is a five-year action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls, and it is under three pillars.
The first is preventing violence by supporting community level solutions. That talks about housing, schools, counselling for victims and supporting aboriginal victims with appropriate services. It talks about the increased shelters that we have across the country for victims of violence. Protecting aboriginal women and girls by investing in shelters and continuing to improve Canada's law enforcement and justice systems is integral to this action plan for which the member opposite has called. All she has to do is read it.
The action plan is the Government of Canada's response to the recommendations of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. We keep hearing about how we should have a national inquiry. I, too, have visited many reserves and aboriginal communities across the country. I took with me a lot of the reports that had been already been done. Forty reports have been done, examining the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. There has been study after study done. We know what the problem is. Through this action plan, we have taken action to improve the situation and the violence against women, particularly aboriginal women.
On top of this, which is so important, is the Victims Bill of Rights Act. Often, when an aboriginal woman, or any woman, has become a victim, she goes into a courtroom and she does not get information. She does not get protection. She is not able to participate against her perpetrator or even have a right to restitution. Under our government, this has all changed. Now women have the right to information about the criminal justice system and the available services and programs. They have a right to protection. They have a right to have their security and privacy considered at all stages of the criminal justice process and to have reasonable measures to protect them from intimidation and retaliation.
I have been in courtrooms, watching victims give testimony as their perpetrators were intimidating them with a cold stare, by shaking their head, or with all of this innuendo in front of them. The victims have a right to protection against this kind of thing. They have the right to participation. They have a right to convey their views about decisions to be made by criminal justice professionals and have them considered at various stages of the criminal justice process. They have a right to that. They are the victims, and our government has brought that in.
These women have a right to restitution. They have a right to have the court consider making a restitution order for offences where it is easy to calculate the financial side of it. The financial side of it is only a very small part. It is what happens to them, the post-traumatic stress disorder, the fear and all those things.
Our government has addressed all these things in this action plan.
The is Canada's action plan. Members across the House can embrace it. They can do something about it. They can find out about the victims' fund and protecting aboriginal girls, about supporting shelters on reserve and the DNA-based missing persons index. There are so many things in this action plan that cover virtually all the questions, queries and demands I heard this evening.
On February 20, the government announced a 10-year $100 million investment to prevent, detect and combat family violence and child abuse as part of the Government of Canada's commitment to stand up for victims. It is not only people in the House, but it is people like Sheldon Kennedy, who created the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. Victims are brought in to his advocacy centre, which is right beside the children's hospital. The police are also housed in that unit, as are the social workers and the support systems for those children.
It does not matter whether they are aboriginal children, Polish children or French children, any child who is abused, as well as victims of human trafficking, can be a part of that service. It is one of the best centres I have ever seen, I would dare say, the best in the world.
Under our government, the investment would support victims of violence through a multifaceted approach to better equip health professionals with the information and training they need to support victims of domestic violence.
Today, in my office, I had a victim tell me about her experience going to a hospital and how terrible it was because the health professionals were not equipped with information and training, which they now will be under our government. The health and well-being of victims of violence as will enhanced access to mental health counselling for victims of violence is included in this plan.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is one issue that we see more and more with victims of violence. Under our government, under this very special action plan to combat violence against women, access to mental health counselling for victims of violence is there. It is very important.
There is also the support and enhancement for organizations and partnerships that provide integrated services to victims of violence.
On April 1 of this same year, our government began implementation of its action plan to address family violence. The action plan takes immediate and concrete action to prevent violence, not only to be a reactionary piece of it or a problem-solving piece of it, and to support victims and protect aboriginal women and girls through new and ongoing commitments, totalling approximately $200 million over five years.
When I hear about a lack of funding, our government has taken giant steps toward stopping human trafficking and violence against women and children. There is new funding of $25 million over five years beginning April 1 this year. That is really strong. There is ongoing funding of $158.7 million over five years, beginning in 2015, for shelters and family violence prevention activities. That is very important. It is something that has not been here. It is written out and implemented so clearly.
We talk about the economic security of women. An allocation of $5 million has been included for dedicated resources through the Status of Women Canada to improve the economic security of aboriginal women and promote their participation in leadership and decision-making.
This is a phenomenal action plan. No longer do members have to call for a national action plan, we have an action plan. It is right here with all the components that can be used, embraced and supported by all members of the House.
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View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
2015-04-28 18:40 [p.13162]
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Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak in support of the motion put forward by my colleague from the NDP, the member for Churchill, regarding the critical issue of violence against women.
The motion calls for the development of a national action plan to address violence against women and sets out a series of key components that must be included in such a plan. In hearing from the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, it is quite clear that the Conservative government has no idea what an action plan is supposed to look like. I thank the member from the NDP for actually laying out what some of the things might be, including the essential component of partners that would do this with us, instead of somebody sitting in a den somewhere writing an action plan, like clearly happened with the trafficking action plan that is the joke of the world.
As the chair of the Liberal women's caucus and as the Liberal Party's critic for aboriginal affairs, this is an issue of particular relevance to my parliamentary responsibilities, but also has a huge resonance with my previous life as a family doctor at Women's College Hospital, which set up the first sexual assault care centre, and every year on December 6 honours the lives of the women who have been lost in Ontario at the hands of a spouse or former spouse.
This is an issue that cuts across socio-economic status, cultures and religions, and Liberals believe that all must work together to end it. I truly believe this could and should be an issue that cuts across party lines and I am disappointed that the member for Churchill continues to try to turn this into a partisan issue. It cannot be that.
In August 2013, the Minister of Health spoke at a meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, where she announced she would make ending family violence the theme of her tenure. She repeated a similar message at the recent meeting of the CMA in April 2014. The motion offers the minister and her government an opportunity to match those words with real action.
Every year in Canada, violence and abuse drive over 100,000 women and children out of their homes and into shelters. In Canada, women continue to outnumber men nine to one as victims of assault by spouses or partners and girls between the ages of 12 and 15 are at the greatest risk of sexual assault by a family member.
As appalling as these statistics are, the level of family violence faced by indigenous women and girls is even more shocking. It is really important that the government understand that the rate of indigenous women being killed by a spouse or former spouse is less than in the non-indigenous community. Therefore, I have been particularly appalled by the message being given by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development as though it means that somehow these women who are missing and murdered are less important.
Indigenous women and girls are dramatically more likely to be victims of homicides or to go missing in Canada. Last year's RCMP report identified almost 1,200 indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered since 1980. Further, while only 4% of women in Canada are indigenous, this demographic accounted for 8% of female homicide victims in 1984 and a staggering 23% by 2012. The crisis for indigenous women has been getting worse and now almost one in four female homicide victims in Canada is indigenous.
As the Liberal Party of Canada's aboriginal affairs critic and a longtime advocate for such a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, I would like to speak specifically about this part of the motion we are debating today.
I have my own stand-alone motion calling for a national inquiry that will be debated in the House in the coming weeks and I hope the member for Churchill will help me with that. The Prime Minister's insensitive comments last summer that we should not view this as a sociological phenomenon and his shocking admission during one of his year-end interviews that missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are not high on his radar provide a disturbing and disappointing window into how he views this national disgrace.
The truth is that only a national inquiry would have the credibility, scope and resources to address the systemic problems underlying the violence, provide the accountability to ensure implementation of its recommendations, and bring justice and reconciliation to the victims and their families.
The Prime Minister's stubborn refusal to call a national public inquiry is in stark contrast to the overwhelming consensus that one is needed. Grieving families, indigenous leaders, victims' advocates, civil society, the international community, and every provincial and territorial premier have all urged the government to call a national public inquiry. It is time to call that public inquiry now.
What has been the response of the Conservative government to ongoing violence against women? The government consistently dismisses the importance of prevention and refuses to address and adequately resource the programs that are in place to deal with this tragic issue.
The Conservative government campaigns about cracking down on violence against women and girls, citing tough-on-crime measures like eliminating house arrest for sexual assault or toughening penalties for the trafficking of date rape drugs, or as we have heard just now, a DNA databank, which is after the woman is dead. What women and families in this country want to hear is how we are going to prevent and stop this epidemic in both the indigenous and non-indigenous communities. While some of these measures may be positive, they do not replace a comprehensive action plan and amount to little more than tinkering at the margins of a national crisis.
Even more appalling was the government's attempt to hide its inaction by repackaging a laundry list of existing inadequate funding and programs as a new, what the member for Kildonan—St. Paul called “very special”, action plan for family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls last fall.
Unfortunately, the current government has stubbornly refused to work with its partners, the provinces and territories, civil society and aboriginal leaders and communities, to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to deal with violence against women.
In 2008, the United Nations released a UN Framework for Action, which identified five key outcomes as benchmarks for the campaign to be achieved by all countries by this year, 2015. It is reprehensible that the government has rejected the UN recommendation to adopt and implement a multi-sectoral national plan of action that emphasizes prevention and is adequately resourced.
Unlike Canada's federal government, the national Australian government demonstrated the leadership to work with its partners, state governments and local communities, to develop a comprehensive 12-year national plan to reduce violence against women and their children. Released in 2011, this multi-jurisdictional and comprehensive approach is actually four action plans which represent distinct phases, and each builds on each other over 12 years. They are designed so that the Australian government and civil society can look back at what has been achieved and refocus subsequent action plans on what actions will make the most difference in the future.
This is the kind of long-term, properly resourced and co-operative approach that we must adopt here in Canada.
Today's motion offers an opportunity for all the parties in this House to come together and agree on a sensible and effective path forward. The motion clearly outlines what the necessary components of an effective action plan to end violence against women here in Canada must include.
Those elements include initiatives to address socio-economic factors contributing to violence against women; policies to prevent violence against women and policies to respond to survivors of violence; benchmarks for measuring progress based on the collection of data on levels of violence against women over time; independent research on emerging issues that relate to violence against women; a public inquiry; strategies that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of different communities; participation by community and other organizations; and human and financial resources earmarked specifically to carry out the program of action set by the plan.
It is time for the government to replace the rhetoric about violence against women and girls with an effective and comprehensive action. This epidemic of violence must end and the Conservative government, which claims to be tough on crime and to stand up for victims of crime, cannot continue to ignore the ongoing national disgrace of violence against women.
I urge all members to support the motion.
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View Mylène Freeman Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mylène Freeman Profile
2015-04-28 18:51 [p.13164]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support my colleague from Churchill's Motion No. 444 to develop a national action plan to address violence against women.
I congratulate the member for Churchill on her work and her dedication to fighting violence against women. She and so many others are doing inspiring work to tackle this problem.
The Canadian Network of Women's Shelters & Transition Houses defines violence against women as follows:
Violence against women is a form of gender-based discrimination, a manifestation of historical and systemic inequality between men and women, and the most widespread human rights violation in the world. It refers to any act, intention or threat of physical, sexual or psychological violence that results in the harm or suffering of women and girls, including restrictions on their freedom, safety and full participation in society. It is inflicted by intimate partners, caregivers, family members, guardians, strangers, co-workers, employers...and service providers. It occurs in the home, at work, in institutions and in our communities. [Violence against women affects all of us.] Women’s experiences of violence are shaped by multiple forms of discrimination and [unfair] disadvantage, which intersect with race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigrant and refugee status, age, and disability.
By refusing to address or even recognize the systemic nature of violence against women, the Conservative government's minister is perpetuating the situation. Women are still being subjected to the most violent manifestations of inequality simply because they are women. The federal government could help them, but it does not.
The Conservatives' record on violence against women is simply atrocious. The Conservatives' failure to act is nothing more than negligence, particularly when it comes to the intolerable rates of violence that aboriginal women experience.
Since they have been in power, the Conservatives have been blatantly attacking the equality of women in Canada. They did away with the court challenges program. They cut the budget of Status of Women Canada by 70% and also took the word “equality” out of its mandate. They banned research and advocacy in the programs funded by that organization. They introduced a number of bills and motions against abortion. They passed regressive legislative measures with regard to income equality, measures that even went against the recommendations of experts. They refuse to allocate sufficient funding to combat violence against aboriginal women and conduct a national public inquiry, when everyone in Canada is calling for them to do so. They are blocking the NDP's bill on transgendered rights. They are refusing to allocate funding to development assistance and to abortion and family planning services, even in cases of forced marriage and rape committed as an act of war. They are constantly reducing funding for social programs, which harms all women. They are attacking the unions that protect good paying jobs for women and proposing programs, such as income splitting, that will reduce the number of working women, at the expense of a national child care program that would ensure the financial security of women.
This erosion of equality makes women more vulnerable to violence. Violence against women is systemic and widespread in Canada. It is a sociological phenomenon. The number of violent crimes is decreasing, but the number of rapes and sexual assaults remains stable. Women are 10 times more likely to be victims of sexual crimes and three times more likely to be victims of criminal harassment.
Whether they are at school, at work or at home, this is a reality that all women live with in one way or another, simply because they are women. It is an oppressive and systemic violence that affects half of our population.
Although violence harms all women, those who are dealing with multiple forms of oppression have more obstacles to overcome, and any solutions must recognize and take into account the thousands of oppressive forms that discrimination and marginalization can take.
We are living in a time when many disciplines are recognizing the effects of the inequality created by various systemic problems. The more oppression there is, the more vulnerabilities we see.
Aboriginal women, women from visible minorities, older women, LGBTTQ women, and women with disabilities are the most affected to the extent that we might call them the most targeted populations. The intersectionality of oppression is very clear when we talk about violence against women.
Fully 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who was the victim of sexual or physical assault, and in Canada 50% of all women experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence by age 16.
Canada has no plan to combat violence against women. It is clear that this is a national problem and it is important to point out that most of these crimes are not reported. A national plan of action would provide a framework for consultation and for strengthening the systems that prevent and respond to violence against women. For this plan to work, there will have to be a consultation process with the people, organizations, communities and researchers who have worked tirelessly to put an end to violence against women. The call for a strategy is coming not just from the NDP, but also from women's organizations across the country and even from the UN.
Without a strategy, services are disjointed and lack coordination and consistency. According to the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters & Transition Houses, without a national plan, responses to violence are often fragmented and inaccessible and can even undermine rather than enhance women's safety.
We need to tackle the underlying problem of inequality, which helps perpetuate this violence. That is why we need a national child care plan, because creating accessible and affordable child care spaces, as Quebec did, would help improve gender equality in Canada.
We need a plan for affordable housing and ongoing commitments to invest in a national housing strategy so that women do not have to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and being homeless.
We need to reduce and eliminate the wage gap and take measures such as making EI more accessible, increasing the minimum wage, creating a national strategy to reduce poverty and dropping the age of eligibility for the GIS back down from 67 to 65. All of these things affect women more directly than men.
Budget cuts made by successive Liberal and Conservative governments have only made matters worse for women in Canada. In 1999, Canada ranked first on the UN gender inequality index, but now we are ranked 23rd.
Meanwhile, every night, 4,600 women and their children are forced to sleep in shelters to escape violence. Many are even turned away because the shelters are already at 100% capacity.
Nearly 2,000 aboriginal women, 1,181 to be precise, disappeared or were murdered between 1980 and 2012. 
A national strategy to address violence against women in Canada is absolutely crucial. We need to reduce and eventually eliminate it. This has been an urgent matter for some time now, and we need to deal with it immediately.
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View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
2015-04-28 18:59 [p.13165]
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Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I rise to respond to the motion brought forward by the official opposition regarding missing and murdered aboriginal children.
My riding in eastern Ontario includes the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan and I am proud of the working relationship that I developed with Chief Kirby Whiteduck and his band councillors, Jim Meness, Daniel Kohoko, Ronald Benard, Jerry Lavalley, Cliff Meness, and Sherrylyn Sarazin. It is important to develop positive relations, particularly in areas like economic development, unemployment and the provision of social services.
Rural issues cross all boundaries. Renfrew County residents know how important it is to work together as we share common goals.
Fortunately for our resident aboriginal population, many of the challenges that face urban dwellers, particularly aboriginal women, are not the issues we face in rural Ontario and in rural Renfrew County and the Nipissing District community of South Algonquin in my riding.
The Government of Canada is deeply concerned about the high incidence of violence against aboriginal women and the impact of this violence on families and communities. As a member of the Government of Canada, I share our deep concern about the incidence of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
I am sure there is not a person here today who could begin to fathom the tragic losses that far too many aboriginal families have experienced in the aftermath of violent crime. All parliamentarians are in full agreement that violent crimes committed against aboriginal women and girls must be strongly denounced. Not only must they be denounced, but we must take concrete action to prevent such violence in the first place. We must protect women and girls from violence. We need to ensure that strong law enforcement and justice systems are in place to support victims and bring those who commit these acts to justice.
These actions are in keeping with the recommendations from the House of Commons Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. I am pleased to confirm it was our Conservative government that established the special committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women in 2013. The committee conducted hearings into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada. It was mandated to propose solutions to address the root causes of violence against aboriginal women and girls. In March 2014, the special committee released its report, “Invisible Women: A Call to Action”.
I am encouraged to report that this is precisely what we are doing with the September 2014 release of our Conservative government's action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls. The action plan includes a range of measures totalling nearly $200 million over five years to address violence against aboriginal women and girls. It is informed by the many studies and reports on this issue which have increased our knowledge and understanding of the nature and causes of these crimes. This includes the intelligence gathered through the RCMP's recent national operational overview.
There have already been over 40 studies related to missing and murdered aboriginal women. Aboriginal organizations and family members have told us what is needed now is action. That is what the action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls is designed to do. It prevents violence by supporting community level solutions, supports aboriginal victims with appropriate services, and protects aboriginal women and girls by investing in shelters and continuing to improve Canada's law enforcement and justice systems. With this action plan, our government uses the best tools at our disposal to prevent violence, support victims, and protect aboriginal women and girls.
Of course, a plan alone will not achieve all of the results that we need. Reducing violence requires a collective effort from everyone with a stake in this issue. It requires more than just the actions of the federal government. It requires collaboration. It requires leadership from police, the justice system, aboriginal communities, and organizations. It also requires constant engagement with those aboriginal families that have been torn apart by this violence.
At the February 2015 National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, families courageously shared their stories, and the experiences that they shared were both tragic and enlightening. They highlighted the need for better coordination and better communication, and the need for measurable and tangible actions that will demonstrate progress and results. The roundtable proved very useful in this regard, and all of the participants agreed on further actions to be taken jointly, with a commitment to a second roundtable to take place in 2016. Partners collectively committed to work toward better prevention, safety, policing, and justice measures to address violence against aboriginal women and girls across Canada.
The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada plays an important role in addressing, protecting, and preventing family violence in communities. The department funds a variety of programs and services to support better outcomes for aboriginal women, girls, and families, including family violence prevention activities, child and family services, economic security and prosperity through skills and training and economic development, along with housing and education.
The family violence prevention program is one critical component. With an annual budget of $31.74 million, the program supports the day to day operations of 41 shelters for women and their children, as well as prevention activities, which involve men and boys and women and girls. Approximately 329 communities, or 55% of all first nations, are served by the 41 Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada funded shelters.
In 2013-14, these shelters provided services to over 2,330 children and 2,850 women living on reserve. In areas where there are no shelters on reserve, first nations may access provincial shelters, crisis lines and/or transportation services to nearby shelters. The program also reimburses Alberta and Yukon for shelter services provided to women and children considered ordinary residents on reserve who access provincial shelters.
As of April 1 of this year, an additional $1.34 million is being made available for family violence prevention activities. The kinds of activities receiving funds include public awareness campaigns, conferences, support groups, and community needs assessments. Over 300 such community-based projects were funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in 2012-13. Since 2006, the department has invested $242.6 million in family violence prevention. These investments have provided shelter services for almost 22,000 children and over 25,500 women.
This is money well spent. The family violence prevention program increases the safety and security of women, children and families on reserve by providing a refuge for victims of violence.
I want to assure my hon. colleagues that our commitment extends to women and girls living off reserve. The department supports important investments through urban aboriginal strategy programming, and the strategy is delivered in partnership with the National Association of Friendship Centres.
I have appreciated the opportunity to discuss the many ways that we prevent violence against aboriginal women and children.
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-04-28 19:10 [p.13166]
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The time provided for the consideration of this item of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.
Pursuant to Standing Order 30(7), the House will now proceed to the consideration of Bill C-642, under private members' business.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2015-04-20 11:58 [p.12727]
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Does the hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
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View Brad Butt Profile
CPC (ON)
View Brad Butt Profile
2015-04-20 11:59 [p.12727]
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Mr. Speaker, this was a complete shock to me. I was not consulted on this motion. I am glad that the NDP, I am assuming, supports the motion. I wanted to have the opportunity to speak to the motion in the House. It is my motion, after all. I would be delighted to work with the opposition parties to get this motion passed, but I feel that today I am completely caught off guard. I was not consulted in any way on this and I would like the opportunity to speak to my own motion.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2015-04-20 11:59 [p.12727]
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I appreciate the intervention by the hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville. The House recognizes consent was not given on the motion that the hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek was seeking.
Hon. members will know that it is somewhat common practice that if members seek the unanimous consent of the House on certain questions, it is absolutely at the House's discretion to consider those motions. As for the opportunity for the hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville to speak to his motion, as he mentioned, I am sure that will be taken up in due course in the normal procedures that the House provides.
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View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2015-03-11 18:48 [p.12005]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support the motion in principle. The situation in Hamilton is one all of us should be paying close attention to. As steel mills close and as infrastructure spending, in particular, is not spent in the country, there is a direct correlation between the two.
If the government had not cut infrastructure spending by almost 89%, perhaps some of the companies in our country that are producing steel, and in particular the workers and the communities where that product is manufactured and is so critical to the local economy, those steel mills would not be going quiet.
That is why the integrated approach to our economic development, which includes building cities but using steel to build those cities, is so fundamental to the policies that are central to my reason for being in politics, but also central to the reasons for the motion in front of us.
A deal was struck to try to save Stelco and to put Hamilton back on a path toward a more prosperous future, but apparently it did not work. The details of that deal need to be tabled immediately. That is part of what the motion seeks to do.
The protection of those pensions is tough to do through this motion. In principle, we understand the need to do it. We understand how not only the lives of the people impacted are so critical but we also understand the expectation in Hamilton and in Southern Ontario of how those pensions integrate themselves into the local economy and help with the diversification of the local economy. When all that disappears, it is not simply a steel mill going quiet. It is a town going quiet. We cannot allow that to happen.
The way to preserve and present a better opportunity and future for the City of Hamilton is to work with the workers, with the investors in the plan, and with the cities that want to consume the steel as they build great places to live, work, play and invest. The way to do it is to work together. Instead, what we get is a quiet, secret deal in the back rooms. They throw up their hands and say, “It's the economy. It's the free market speaking”, and then the calamity arrives. We do not get a proactive and integrated approach to solving the economic challenges that confront communities like Hamilton.
Be assured, a Liberal government, the next government, will work very hard not only to protect the rights of workers but to protect the economy in southern Ontario. Having a strong Hamilton feeds into a strong Oakville, feeds into a strong Oshawa, and a strong manufacturing base that deals with the strong economy in this part of the country.
The loss of the steel mill, throwing up its hands and not getting engaged as a government is simply unacceptable, and is not right. Therefore, it is not just the anxiety of pensioners we are measuring in the motion and not just the measurement of a city and a local economy that feels it has been abandoned by the federal government, it is all of southern Ontario. It is the entire manufacturing base of the country.
We cannot just extract minerals. We must also process those minerals. We cannot just process minerals for foreign markets. We need to employ those minerals, particularly steel, in the construction of not just an economy but of southern Ontario's cities and all of Canada's cities.
The approach of the government, which is to pretend that a deal is a deal and therefore it must be a good deal and not to provide follow-up, oversight and discipline to that process, is what is failing the manufacturing sector in southern Ontario. It is what is failing cities in our country.
The cut to infrastructure spending, the abandonment of pensioners in Hamilton, walking away from industry in southern Ontario, none of this is good economic policy. It is why we are now experiencing a trade deficit. It is why youth unemployment is so high. It is why property taxes are rising so quickly, particularly around the Golden Horseshoe. The government claims to be cutting taxes, but in fact is downloading on cities. There is no integrated economic strategy for individuals, for industries or for cities in this part of the country.
Imagine if transit was being supported and built. Where would the steel come from? Imagine if new homes were being built. Imagine where the steel and other resources would be coming from. Imagine that the St. Lawrence River and the St. Lawrence system and the bridges that crisscross it were being rebuilt instead of the debate being deferred and the thumbs being twiddled on the other side of the House. Steel would be used. Hamilton would be happy. The pensioners would feel secure in their retirement.
Instead, what we get offered are things like income splitting. Income splitting does not work if one's pension disappears. In fact, income splitting gets worse if one's pension disappears and the city's economy starts to disappear with it.
It is time for a rethink on how we build this country. Simply building perfect budgets, which the government still has failed to do as it has yet to balance a budget, does not necessarily build a stronger Canada. It certainly does not build stronger cities.
We have to rethink this model. It starts by supporting places like Hamilton and by supporting motions like the one in front of us. However, it will not be finished until we get back to the real job of the government, which is to build a strong country, which takes building better provinces, which is a focus on building strong cities, but when we get down to it, it is actually building strong communities, which we know are comprised of people who can retire in dignity, can work with pride, and can contribute to the construction of a great country.
We have not seen any of that with the approach the government has shown to Hamilton and that is wrong. It is time to change that attitude. Unfortunately, the only real way you can change that attitude is to change the government.
We support this motion in the interim. We support its principles. Most importantly, we stand by the people of Hamilton, the retirees of Stelco included. It is time to protect the investment this country has made in the steel mills in Hamilton and Stelco, in particular. It is time to stand up for Hamilton, stand up for cities, and more importantly, stand up to the government, which has ignored this crisis and is only making it worse by its indifference.
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