Mr. Speaker, I rise today to request a motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of an emergency debate on the government's response to the appalling conditions in the community of Attawapiskat on the James Bay coast in the riding of Timmins--James Bay. This is seconded by my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan.
Yesterday, I went to Attawapiskat with the Leader of the Opposition and I saw that the crisis affecting the Attawapiskat people is urgent. The situation is very serious in that community. It is clear that this situation is a true emergency that requires an immediate and urgent assessment by the House.
I was in the community of Attawapiskat yesterday for the second time in a month and conditions have deteriorated significantly. It is crystal clear that when citizens in Canada are living in unheated sheds and coughing up blood that it is a situation that requires a response.
I am asking for the immediate and urgent consideration of the House as set out in Standing Order 52(6)(a).
It has been a month since the community declared a state of emergency and now after a month, Red Cross emergency teams are on the ground. Emergency Management Ontario has been doing an independent analysis of the situation facing the families. There has been an outpouring of national concern, including this afternoon when the Ontario Public School Board called on all schools in Ontario to help the community of Attawapiskat. Yet we have seen very little response from the federal government except at this late hour to call for third party management.
There can be no doubt that the responsibility to act on this catastrophe and this failure of infrastructure and the basic needs of the community is the ultimate responsibility of the federal government, specifically that of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which is one of the principal requirements set out in Standing Order 52(5) for granting an emergency debate.
Mr. Speaker, this issue just cannot wait. Winter has already arrived on the James Bay coast and the families of Attawapiskat are not equipped to deal with the current temperature. We saw many children living in unheated shacks, tents and condemned buildings.
We cannot wait on this issue. Canadians are watching us. Winter has set in. In James Bay yesterday it was -20°. Families are ill-equipped to deal with the plummetting temperatures, which was why we watched Red Cross officials bring in sleeping bags to help with the conditions.
In this Canadian community children are living in unheated sheds. Families are living in makeshift tents and condemned structures. This deplorable state of affairs has caused a national outcry.
It is time for us to look at the situation in Attawapiskat and turn our attention to what we should do as the Parliament of Canada to respond to our Canadian citizens, people who look to the government to protect them and help them in times of emergency.
I thank you in advance, Mr. Speaker, for your consideration on this urgent matter.