Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this important debate on the concurrence motion before the House today.
I will be splitting my time with the parliamentary secretary for aboriginal affairs.
We are here to address the report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. I was honoured to chair the special committee and I would like to thank the other members of the committee from all parties for their dedicated work on this report, as well as the organizations and individuals who made submissions and appeared as witnesses. Most of all, I would like to thank the families who came to tell us their heart-wrenching stories. They have done a great service to Canadians by bringing even more attention to what is a serious issue and a complex problem.
Let me say at the outset that our government has made it very clear that these abhorrent acts of violence against aboriginal women and girls will not be tolerated in our society. These violence crimes must be strongly denounced by the communities in which they occur and by all Canadians. Canada is a country where those who break the law are punished, where penalties match the severity of crimes committed, and where the rights of victims are recognized.
What the committee heard from the families is that they want justice. The reality is that far too many aboriginal families have felt the effects of violent crime and have had to live with the consequences. This is unacceptable and that is why our government continues to take action to address this problem. This report is about solutions. It is about actions and that is why I am very proud to support the report and the action plan.
I want to talk about economic action plan 2014 investing an additional $25 million over five years to continue efforts to reduce violence against aboriginal women. On September 15, the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women launched the Government of Canada's action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women. This action plan was developed in response to the 16 recommendations identified in the report of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. It also builds on lessons learned from the government's previous investments, as well as the many studies and reports on this issue, including the RCMP's national operational overview, a thoughtful and thought-provoking report released earlier this year.
In developing the action plan, the Minister of Status of Women also met with leaders of several aboriginal organizations and communities, as well as a number of individual victims and families. The action plan sets out concrete actions in three areas: to prevent violence, to support victims, and to protect aboriginal women and girls from violence. It includes the new funding of $25 million over five years beginning in 2015-16, as well as renewed and ongoing support in a number of important areas. I would like to tell the House about some of those areas.
The $25 million specifically includes $8.6 million over five years for the development of more community safety plans off and on reserve across Canada, including in vulnerable communities with a high incidence of violent crime perpetrated against women as identified in the RCMP report that I mentioned earlier. It also includes $2.5 million over five years for projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse by raising awareness and building healthy relationships.
This is one example that I think resulted directly from evidence heard at the special committee, that the cycles of violence would continue if we did not stop them in their tracks. The committee heard over and over again from aboriginal organizations, aboriginal leaders and families that the cycle must stop, so this government is taking that seriously and that was worked into the action plan. The funding also includes $5 million over five years for projects to engage men and boys and empower women and girls in efforts to denounce and prevent violence.
This was another theme that came up over and over again, engaging men and boys off and on reserve to understand that the cycle had to stop and that these behaviours could no longer be tolerated or encouraged. There are programs in effect and we are committed to funding those programs to engage men and boys. There would also be $7.5 million directly for victims and their families for support as well as $1.4 million to share information and resources among community organizations and to report regularly on progress made.
I am particularly proud that part of the 2014 funding commitment, $1.3 million per year, would go to a DNA-based missing persons index. This is extremely important. We heard from many of the witnesses at committee that we needed a central database of missing persons. This would help law enforcement, the RCMP and police, to investigate the crimes and find the perpetrators more quickly and efficiently.
The member for Trinity—Spadina mentioned in his speech funding for shelters. I am particularly pleased that there is funding of $158 million over five years for shelters and family violence prevention activities. That is through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Perhaps the parliamentary secretary will tell us a bit more about that in his comments.
One of the other issues that came up a couple of times was economic security for aboriginal women. I think one of the most obvious and relevant actions that this government has taken on this front is the passage of Bill S-2, matrimonial property rights on reserve.
When I tell women in my riding of Mississauga South that until the House passed this bill, women on reserve did not have the right upon dissolution of a common law relationship or marriage to own property, they cannot believe it. Frankly, it does not seem right that in a country as great as Canada that this would be the case. We identified this as a problem because when one does not have a home, one cannot have economic security. That has all changed, and now women on reserve have the same rights that every other Canadian woman has enjoyed for many decades.
Taken altogether, these measures outlined by the minister in the action plan represent a total investment of $196.8 million over five years, so it is no surprise that many stakeholders have endorsed this action plan. Chief Ron Evans of the Norway House Cree Nation said:
This comprehensive Action Plan responds to the needs and recommendations made by stakeholders across the country in developing a concrete and action-oriented plan with significant resources and funding for implementation.
I think that is a fancy way of saying that the committee listened. The committee heard from the witnesses and made recommendations that were then implemented into the action plan. We are finding those solutions and taking the necessary action to help women and to solve this very tragic situation in Canada.