Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to share this time with my colleagues from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan.
As I rise to speak in the House today, I do so with deep gratitude. I am grateful for the privilege of serving my constituents in Port Moody—Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra during these unprecedented times. I am grateful to be here in the chamber, where the dignity, dreams, lives and hopes of the people are shaped by the laws we make in this great democratic institution. I am proud to be Canadian more than ever before, because I see people in our country and in my community putting their compassion, generosity and resilience into action in a time of great need. I am humbled by the honour of serving my country in a time of adversity.
I'd like to take this time to thank the health care practitioners and staff at Eagle Ridge Hospital for their daily sacrifice. I'd like to thank the first responders and essential workers in my riding, who keep us safe and fed, and maintain a certain level of normalcy for us in a time of instability. Thank you all for putting yourselves at risk on the front lines as you take care of us. You are the heroes in this war against COVID-19.
I'd also like to say a special thank you to all who have been showing great initiative by raising support for food banks through virtual concerts and galas. I'd like to thank Share Family & Community Services and other societies and groups in my community for continuing to meet the needs of food and security for the homeless, seniors and vulnerable families. I'd like to thank individuals and groups for their efforts in making homemade masks and donating them to health care workers and seniors.
There is another demographic of vulnerable Canadians who are facing unprecedented struggle right now, and that is the business community. With so many shutdowns, revenue losses and the challenges of paying rent and utility bills, all the while facing disappointment over gaps in the emergency benefits that disqualify some business owners.... I recognize it's a process, but it's been a daunting one for several weeks. Therefore, I'd like to thank Michael Hind and the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce for doing an excellent job of keeping business owners updated on different government benefits and encouraging the people. To the sponsors of the shop local campaign to help urban businesses survive the pandemic, thank you for giving hope to our entrepreneurs. Canada needs our businesses to survive past this pandemic.
In the midst of struggle, there have also been moments of celebration. I'd like to congratulate Dr. Mary Anne Cooper, a resident of Port Moody, for receiving the B.C. Achievement Community Award. We celebrate her exceptional contributions to our local heritage and our green spaces, and her advocacy for seniors.
I'd also like to congratulate Novo Textiles, a company in my riding of Coquitlam that, without government funding, has managed to retool their factory to manufacture surgical masks. They are now supplying masks to the B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority, Alberta Health, Nova Scotia fish-processing companies, B.C. Search and Rescue, and the Port of Vancouver. In a short time, they'll be manufacturing N95 masks using a Canadian machine and Swiss-made fabric that has a strong antiviral and antibacterial effect that can kill bacteria upon contact.
This success story and the similar stories that are starting to pop up across our nation demonstrate not only their efforts against COVID-19 but also their entrepreneurial, innovative and pioneering spirit, which is the essence of the Canadian spirit. I'm so proud to see it happen right here in my own community. It was a privilege to be part of expediting the process for Novo Textiles' transition to becoming one of Canada's first manufacturers of N95 masks.
In continuing to celebrate our Canadians, I'd like to wish all members of the Dutch, Asian and Jewish communities a happy heritage month, and celebrate their history, culture and contributions that enrich and strengthen our country.
This week we also observe Mental Health Week, and I'm so glad to hear in the House many sensibilities spoken about this. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested many aspects of our human condition. It has particularly had a toll on our mental health individually and collectively. There's been a lot of shock and change, and much to grieve and process.
It didn't even dawn on me personally until I went to Vancouver International Airport for my flight here and saw the empty airport and recognized the situation we truly are in and the vulnerability of our economy. I did not see people, the crowds that I'm used to seeing, which mark a healthy industry. We are in challenging times.
I recently spoke with a non-profit organization, Not 9 to 5, that advocates for mental health awareness and support for the hospitality industry. Of the many industries hit by COVID-19 shutdowns, the hospitality industry is perhaps one of the most vulnerable. It's certainly an important part of my constituency and of British Columbia.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, substance use, socio-economic insecurity and unemployment are high risk factors for suicide and suicidal behaviour. According to Not 9 to 5, the hospitality industry already had a severe mental health crisis on its hands before the coronavirus pandemic, but now with the added challenges of isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic, a rise in suicide rates is expected.
This points me to a greater overarching pandemic. Hospitality is one industry, but Canadians at large are facing an unprecedented time of trauma, fear, anxiety and hopelessness with all the challenges of financial loss, isolation, fear of the COVID-19 virus itself and uncertainty about the future. I know many have not had a chance to grieve and come to terms with what's happening right now. In a matter of weeks and months, I don't even know what that will look like.
It is at a time like this that I feel that it is important for us as parliamentarians, and especially for the government being in a position to take action, to really consider the long-term impact of this crisis pertaining to mental health and to perhaps view the situation as an opportunity to do a reset in how Canadians perceive mental health and how we respond. It is perhaps not something that should just be left to the provinces. Instead there should be a federal framework that we can provide not only for immediate intervention but for long-term solutions.
I would ask all members across all aisles to consider what that framework would look like, to not only help Canadians through this pandemic but also set a long-term course through which mental health care is accessible and part of everyday care like physical health care.
In 2006, the Conservative government proposed legislation for a mental health act. We acknowledged the need for oversight on mental health, but it's been 14 years. We need to revisit mental health and take it to the next level. There's no better time than the present, and if necessity is the mother of all invention, let the necessity of oversight and funding for mental health care today, in partnership with all tiers of government and front-line organizations, mark its beginning.
Today there is another pandemic that is running parallel to COVID-19 and that is the pandemic of domestic abuse. In 2018 about one-third of all violent crimes reported to the police were committed by intimate partners.
COVID-19 has created a perfect storm for domestic violence to escalate. Tri-City Transitions is a women's shelter and service provider for families and victims of domestic violence in my riding, and I'm grateful that my community has an organization like Tri-City Transitions, which has programs for immediate needs and long-term restoration and has served the community for 45 years. I spoke with Carol Metz, who has worked for many years for the shelter, and in a Zoom interview, she stated that since the COVID-19 pandemic caused social distancing and shutdowns, they have opened 20 new cases. Families are being strained relationally, and even the most solid relationships are being tested.
While emphasizing the need for more long-term programs to support women, who form 80% of the victims in intimate partner violence, she also stated the need for programs to help the abusers deal with the issues that translate into their anger, violence and abusive behaviour.
While the government has stated that the funds are flowing to the bank accounts of shelters and sexual assault centres, we don't know the details of how the support is being distributed, so there is no way of determining the gaps. It is time to take a deeper look at domestic violence and deal with these issues or else we will have a whole generation of families with PTSD and all kinds of trauma. The cycle needs to end. We need to mitigate now with solutions that speak not only to immediate relief but also in the short term and long term work toward restoration.
I'm glad to see the initiatives the government has undertaken to bring more awareness, but it needs to go deeper. Counselling is a journey that needs to begin and end with consistency, and I hope some of the counselling will provide long-term journeys to help people find stability in those counselling relationships.
Moving forward, I hope that during this Mental Health Week all members will give deep thought to what mental health care should look like today and for the next generation.