Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about my journey this summer through my riding. It is very relevant to the budget implementation act tabled today and to what is not in the budget.
This summer I travelled my riding. It is 8,500 square kilometres. I did it by bicycle and by boat. People in my riding travelled with me, seniors, young people, leaders, chiefs, mayors, councillors. They rode with me from community to community. They came out to share what was important to them.
The reason I also did it by bicycle was because I tabled Bill C-312, an act to establish a national cycling strategy, on October 4, 2016. Members are probably wondering what the benefits are of a national cycling strategy and what that would do for Canadians.
The national cycling strategy would commit the federal government to set clear targets for the expansion of cycling-friendly infrastructure; encourage more Canadians to choose cycling as their mode of transportation; improve national safety standard measures such as side guard rails for trucks, support cycle tourism in Canada, which is one of the fastest-growing areas of tourism in the world; and increase education for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.
Why is a national cycling strategy important? We need to take small steps and a multi-faceted approach to tackle the great challenges we face with soaring health care and infrastructure costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and traffic congestion. Cycling is a sustainable transportation solution that is low cost, environmentally friendly, and encourages healthy living.
Therefore, Bill C-312 is a multi-faceted proposal to develop cycling options across our country. It addresses the social, economic, and environmental issues facing Canada today. It provides a plan for cycling infrastructure and education. It makes dollars and cents. With the rising costs of housing, gas and groceries, just to name a few, life is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many Canadians. Cycling is a sustainable solution offering to transportation, and we can make that happen. Therefore, we need to do more to make Canada a cycling nation.
I want to talk about a study that was recently done in Denmark. It shows that for every kilometre cycled, society enjoys a net profit of 23¢, whereas for every kilometre driven by car, it suffers a net loss of 16¢.
When I learned more about cycling in our country, what alarmed me was that in the Netherlands 50% of children would ride their bike to school. In Denmark, it is 40%. In Germany, it is 15%. In Sweden, it is 20%. In Canada, it is 2%. That is not because we live in this big, vast country, which one would think is the reason why. It is because 82% of Canadians live in an urban environment. In fact, 35% of Canadians live in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal alone. It is not because of our climate, because there is only a 1° difference between Stockholm and Toronto. It is because we have not made it a priority, set clear targets or made a commitment.
Let us look at the costs associated with health. I will give an example.
Heart disease in Canada costs us $12 billion a year. A recent study done in Denmark shows that the people who ride their bikes to work reduce their risk of heart disease by 40%. Imagine finding a pill that could reduce costs from $12 billion to $8 billion just by simply taking it. That is cycling. We need to set clear targets. We need to create a marketing and education approach to get more people on bikes and bring all users of the road together.
As a former municipal councillor, I know this. If the federal government puts a dollar on the table designated specifically for active transportation, for cycling, we know the province will not leave a dollar on the table. We know a municipal government will not leave $2 on the table. We know a local community group will not leave $3 on the table.
This is supported by many groups. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has endorsed the need for a national cycling strategy as has Canada Bikes. The City of Toronto recently wrote a letter of support for Bill C-312 and the need for a national cycling strategy. In my riding, Port Alberni and Cumberland have also committed to that.
There was nothing in this bill that was specifically designated in the last budget, and the budget before, for cycling in Canada. Therefore, we need to do more.
I started my journey on August 22 in Hesquiaht, which is about two and a half hours north by boat from Tofino. I was the first MP in the history of our country to show up in Hesquiaht. I was received very well. I went with Chief Lucas. The people talked about the importance of conservation on their herring, the reality of low-income assistance rates, the high cost of transportation, and the complicated failure of our government to respect their rights by the Supreme Court to catch and sell fish.
We went to Hot Springs Cove after that, and we heard the same thing. Then we went to Ahousaht. We met with Chief Louie and his council. We heard from them about--