Madam Speaker, everyone in the House should feel the urgency and the necessity of tackling intimate partner violence and gender-based violence. As has been said, every six days in Canada, a woman is killed from intimate partner violence. This fact is not new, yet the Liberals, and the Conservatives before them, have not addressed it adequately. New Democrats refuse to stand idly by while countless individuals, primarily women and girls, face physical and psychological trauma and fear for their lives on a daily basis.
Intimate partner violence and gender-based violence are not just private matters; they are systemic issues rooted deeply in ingrained inequalities and power imbalances in Canada. It is women, especially those from marginalized communities, who experience the worst of this violence.
We also know that individuals with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by this kind of violence. People with disabilities experience higher levels of intimate partner violence, and they face unique barriers to accessing support and escaping abusive situations. As the NDP critic for disability and inclusion, too many times I hear from residents who say that there is not enough research done on this, that there is not enough data on this and that there is not enough investment from the government in understanding the impact of domestic violence on persons with disabilities. Therefore, I encourage the government to invest in more research on violence against persons with disabilities, all genders.
I also want to note that indigenous women face higher levels of violence and that the current government has failed to meaningfully tackle the horrific levels of violence experienced by indigenous women, girls and 2 people. The Liberal government could immediately address some of that violence by investing in housing.
In 2019, the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre presented a report called “Red Women Rising” at the Metro Vancouver indigenous relations committee. The presenter said that no woman should be homeless on her own land. That really stuck with me, and I hope the Liberals will make the investments needed to ensure that every single indigenous woman and every single indigenous person has a home to call their own.
We cannot achieve an equitable and just society until we address the underlying structures that enable and perpetuate this kind of violence. As a New Democrat, I am committed to dismantling these systems of oppression and creating a society where everyone lives free from violence. All New Democrats are committed to that. A society where everyone has a home and has access to full and universal health care and pharmacare is also something the current Liberal government needs to move on immediately.
I want to acknowledge the work of survivors, frontline organizations and advocates who helped to make Bill C-332 a possibility. I also want to thank my colleagues: the MP for Victoria, for bringing this important piece of legislation forward; and the MP for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, for his work on criminalizing coercive and controlling behaviour. We would not be here without the commitment of those people.
Coercive and controlling behaviour is a form of abuse that so many people, especially women, have experienced and that many are experiencing today, living in fear in their own homes. It is a form of domestic violence that, rather than a single instance, is a repeated pattern of behaviour by the perpetrator. This pattern often includes physical violence and sexual violence, but in many instances, it starts with other types of abuse, like humiliation, threats and attempts to take away the person's support systems and independence. Often, that means limiting transportation options, like taking car keys or intentionally damaging vehicles, and also controlling their access to communication, like taking or breaking cellphones. It also often involves limiting access to bank accounts, passports and immigration documents.
We know that 95% of people who report physical abuse also report coercive control; they correlate. We need women and girls to know what these abusive red flags are and to know what this kind of abusive behaviour is and that it is unacceptable. It has terrible impacts on the person's mental health. It often means they live in fear of violence all the time. Too frequently, it ends in tragedy.
These stories are all too common. Coercive control is not only a serious issue on its own but also so often it is precursor to physical violence. This is an opportunity to stop physical harm before it happens.
I want to take a moment here to recognize an organization called BOLT Safety Society, a youth-funded, not-for-profit, building safer and equitable communities. I have known the women in this organization for many years. I am happy to say that my office in Port Moody—Coquitlam is called a safe hub. It is a place where women and gender-diverse residents can come and get information about support groups in our community and also to get a wellness kit, if they need it.
I want to thank BOLT Safety for their work, and I want to thank them for raising the issue with young women and diverse genders of what coercive and controlling behaviour looks like. Coercive control is one of the most common risk factors for femicide, even in cases where there were no instances of physical violence before the murder.
Passing this legislation gives victims and police the tools they need to prevent some of the most tragic examples of intimate partner violence. It is time we said, “enough is enough”. Years ago, the justice committee recommended criminalizing coercive and controlling behaviour in Canada, but the Liberal government, despite its claims to be feminist, has not acted. It continues to delay and disappoint.
All parties should listen to survivors, listen to frontline organizations, make sure we support those who experience this kind of abuse and give victims the tools they need to leave the situation.
I am urging every member in the House to take immediate action to protect women and victims of intimate partner violence, and to support this important bill. This is one important step in tackling gender-based violence and working to eradicate intimate partner violence from our communities forever.