Mr. Speaker, this is not a very nice subject of conversation. This is a humiliating and insulting Canadian failure. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, but a significant portion of its population has been condemned to suffer from hunger because of its ethnicity. This is not true to Canadian values.
When I became active within the NDP, Tommy Douglas was still an MP. He was no longer the party leader, but he was still there. If he had seen situations like this, he would not have been very happy. This conflicts with all of my values.
This is a dismal failure on all counts. One by one, I have looked at all of the aboriginal affairs programs audited by the Auditor General of Canada, and not one of them is working. In no case did the Auditor General say that the government did a good job. Results are systematically poor. Given so many failures with respect to an ethnic community in Canada, we have to wonder if the government is serious about wanting to work with that community.
The nutrition north program is incomplete. The Conservatives say it is excellent, but that is definitely not the case, since it does not reach everyone who needs it. How can a service be useful when someone decides that 50 communities will not have access to it? That cannot work.
The Auditor General was not satisfied with the department's analysis of its own performance. Yes, that is right, the department assesses its own performance. The Auditor General said that the department was reporting lower prices, when he actually found higher prices. In theory, this program should help bring prices down. The Auditor General said he does not understand how the department could have come up with lower prices, but no one will talk about it.
We were told that things would be fixed, but when the Auditor General asked the department whether it had asked food retailers if they were keeping the subsidies for themselves or using them to lower prices, the department replied that it could not ask them that question, under the pretext that it would breach the businesses' commercial confidentiality. Wow. It is therefore abundantly clear that the people's right to have healthy, affordable food has been tossed out the window.
However, that is not all. The department said it would fix the situation, but the Auditor General is getting fed up. He reviewed all of the promises the department had made about fixing things and found that the government was not meeting its commitments. The Auditor General told us that this government made some commitments to follow up on his recommendations, but then it did not honour them. This government's commitments are worth about as much as the commitments that the Auditor General has verified in the past.
Food insecurity in remote communities is a serious problem. I would like to cite a Statistics Canada study. We could refer to studies by the United Nations representative or other studies, but this one is quite critical.
It is a Statistics Canada study from 2008-09 showing that the situation has deteriorated ever since. It has not improved. It has gotten worse. In Nunavut, 32.6% of the population experienced food insecurity, 11.5% of which experienced serious insecurity. That does not mean going without a meal a few times a week. It means rarely eating all week. We are talking quite literally about starvation.
What is this fine government's response? When children are too skinny and seniors are trembling with hunger, the government puts them on a plane to get treatment in southern Canada, where the hospital will feed them. What a wonderful solution. That is what we call sweeping the problem under the rug. Unfortunately, this government does that far too often.
Population growth in the Northwest Territories is quite extraordinary, which is fortunate because life there is not easy. Nevertheless, the population growth there is five times greater than it is here. In 10 years, the population grew by 45%. That is quite the boom. The problem is that when a population grows by 45% in 10 years and the services do not keep pace, then a larger number of people have to share fewer things. Unless the Conservatives take themselves for Christ and can multiply loaves and fishes, it is clear that people are going hungry and will continue to suffer. The population growth being what it is, more and more people will have to share the same amount of groceries that there ever was. It does not take a genius to figure that out. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of those across the way.
We spoke about housing, drinking water and access to quality education. Nothing is working, absolutely nothing. We have reached a point where, in a report on Indian residential schools, a judge declared that this constitutes cultural genocide. The government lets people go hungry knowingly and willfully. Everyone has told the government that people are hungry. They do not go to the dump for the fun of it. They want to eat and they do not have access to good quality food. They do not have access to quality housing, they do not have access to clean drinking water and they do not have access to health care. All of this has significant consequences for their situation, resulting in a high mortality rate for very young children, a much shorter life expectancy, major health problems and addiction problems. Name a problem and they have it. The only thing that they do not have are solutions.
This motion provides a solution. It is a balanced solution, one that does not reinvent the wheel. We were already on the brink of committing genocide when we refused to help communities at risk. Obviously, doing nothing when we know that these communities are at risk is definitely an act of genocide. We would be refusing to help communities at risk without being concerned about the people who would suffer. For that reason it is important to act now. There are some people who are too focused on budget measures. The situation must be addressed by doing what the motion proposes. We will not be rediscovering the world, but just simply ensuring that everyone can benefit from a program.
We are faced with budget cuts. I would like to know how many of us would accept budget cuts that would make our children go hungry?