Mr. Speaker, sorry, it is from the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, my colleague.
Mr. Speaker, in addition, I would like to thank the right hon. Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity to do so.
I want to also take this chance to congratulate each elected member of the House and recognize that we could not be here without the support of some very important people in our lives. I would like to thank my parents; my husband, Tejinder Sahota; and our son, Nihal, for their encouragement and support.
It is a great honour and a privilege to serve my constituents of Brampton North here in the 42nd Parliament. I want to thank them for putting their trust in me. In return, I am committed to serving them with the utmost integrity, humility, and hard work.
I was raised in the city of Brampton. I attended its schools, played in its parks, and made my closest friends there. It is where my family has chosen to make our home. I know first-hand how vibrant and full of promise the city is. I believe it reflects the true potential of Canada from coast to coast to coast. Brampton embodies the diversity of Canada with its growing population of 600,000, making it Canada's ninth largest city. It is home to Canadians from various backgrounds, with 50% of its population having been born outside of Canada. More than 65% of Brampton's population are from visible minorities, speaking upwards of 80 different languages, including Punjabi, Portuguese, Urdu, Spanish, Gujarati, Hindi, and so on. Over the last 30 years, I have seen this community time and time again come together and strengthen its diversity in unity.
His Excellency spoke about how the Canada we know and hold dear today is an accumulation of the diversity and experiences of its people and the way they treat each other. That is why our government is steadfast in its commitment to welcoming and integrating 25,000 new Canadians from Syria. These refugees have faced extreme hardship and tragedy. We will ensure that, like all Canadians, they have a fair and real chance to succeed. It is the Canadian thing to do.
Similarly, our first nations and indigenous people right here at home have also faced extreme hardship and injustice. The disappearance and death of nearly 1,200 indigenous women and girls is an ongoing national tragedy and must come to an end. Therefore, we will immediately launch a national public inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada.
During this last election, Canadians resoundingly refused to play into the politics of fear. I have received numerous emails and phone calls from my constituents expressing their support for our government's international actions. We will continue to reinforce and strengthen our relations with our allies and work with them to fight against terrorism.
Our government will renew our commitment to UN peacekeeping operations and strengthen our reputation for environmental stewardship. Canada will lead by example, once again, and in order to lead, Canada must invest in its future by investing in infrastructure.
Our government's historical infrastructure commitment is critical to the prosperity of cities across Canada, like my own. The transit infrastructure spending will not only help alleviate traffic congestion in my community, but it will also allow people to spend more time with their loved ones and bring jobs closer to home.
The development of social infrastructure is the foundation of a strong society. One of our core Canadian values is to take care of those who are vulnerable. In Brampton, the wait time for affordable housing is a shocking 10 years. This is unacceptable, and our government is invested in taking a leadership role to help build more housing units, refurbish existing ones, renew existing co-ops, and provide greater funding to support municipalities. This approach will assist those who need it the most, especially struggling, low-income families, single-parent families, and vulnerable seniors.
To offer greater flexibility in child care needs, we will create the Canada child benefit to put more money back in the pockets of middle-class and low-income families. This will lift 315,000 Canadian children out of poverty. Together with social infrastructure, this will act as a vehicle in uplifting the status of women, along with giving children a head start in life and offering families the flexibility that is needed in the 21st century.
Universal health care is a hallmark of our nation, and we cannot fall behind in building upon it to meet the growing demands of Canadians. While remaining at the forefronts of innovation and research, the government will work with the provinces and territories on a new health accord.
Just as important as investing in transit and social infrastructure, Canada must plan for the future and invest in green technologies. Canadians share a deep love for the outdoors and a sense of responsibility to protect our environment for future generations. Therefore, we will be working with the provinces to take action on climate change, invest in clean technologies, and create clean jobs.
Our government firmly believes that a clean environment and a strong economy can and do go hand in hand. The middle class is the heart of the Canadian economy. The best way to grow our economy is by strengthening the middle class and helping those working hard to join it. The end goal is to ensure that Canadians can manage the cost of living. After knocking on countless doors and listening to Canadians, I know this is their number one priority, and it will be the number one priority of this government.
The middle class has not seen a decent pay raise in 30 years and is struggling to make ends meet. In the face of rising costs, this is why our first act of business will be to introduce and pass legislation to implement a tax cut for the middle class.
As previously mentioned, we will also create the Canada child benefit to ensure that it helps those who need it the most. It is only when the middle class thrives that all Canadians thrive.
The Governor General mentioned that Canadians gave us a clear mandate to govern, but we cannot achieve this mandate without support. We are committed to working across the aisle and partnering with our provincial and local counterparts to achieve the best for Canadians.
In Ontario, our mayors, our city and regional councillors, and our MPPs have welcomed me and my colleagues with open arms. I look forward to co-operating on numerous matters, including enhancing the Canadian pension plan, to provide more income security for Canadians when they retire, so they can do so with dignity as they are the ones who have worked so hard to build this nation.
We will also work with the provinces and territories to make post-secondary education more affordable, so that it is still possible in a country like ours for people of all socio-economic backgrounds to achieve the Canadian dream to send their sons and daughters to world-renowned schools without taking out a second mortgage, and so that our youth are not discouraged from pursuing higher education and attaining the skills they need to compete in this global economy.
His Excellency raised the importance of restoring trust in our political institutions and ensuring that Canadians are given a stronger voice in Parliament. This government is determined to do just that. The year 2015 marks not only the year we have brought in a gender-balanced cabinet, but it will also be the last federal election under the first past the post voting system.
In addition to reforming how members are elected, we will reform the Senate to ensure its appointments are merit based and non-partisan, strengthening its independent role as a chamber.
Canadians are already beginning to see a more open and transparent government, and we will continue this new tone by promoting more open debate and free votes in the House, strengthening our communities and welcoming the opinions of everyday Canadians.
Canada is geographically large but united in its common goal of peace, order and good governance.
I believe that under this new government and the leadership of our right hon. Prime Minister we will bring forth an era of positive change and prosperity, put divisive tactics aside, and no longer hold on to the politics of fear.
We must not forget that diversity is our country's best asset and not our weakness. That is why I am proud to stand with a government that is making it easier for immigrants to build a successful life in Canada, reunite with their families, embrace economic opportunities and contribute to Canada's prosperity. Many of us, including me, are here today because at some point our families were welcomed as immigrants with open arms. This gave them, and all of us here today, the opportunity to be nation builders.
I encourage all hon. members of the House to support today's motion. I stand here today, a woman, a mother, a wife, and the proud daughter of immigrant parents. For me, it is both an honour and a pleasure to support the motion on the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne.