Mr. Speaker, today we mark World Tuberculosis Day. Tuberculosis still affects over nine million people worldwide. While many in Canada view this as an illness of the past or of somewhere else, the fact is that it continues to affect many in our own country.
First nations and Inuit communities struggle with high rates of TB. This is very much the case in my own constituency in northern Manitoba. In fact, TB rates for indigenous communities are 10 times higher than those in non-indigenous communities and the rates are not decreasing.
In Manitoba, indigenous people make up 65% of all cases, despite being only 14% of the population. In the far north, indigenous people make up almost 100% of all the cases there.
This is not by accident. Determining factors behind the spread of TB are all too familiar: overcrowded housing, mould-infested infrastructure like schools, extreme food insecurity and most fundamentally, poverty. All of these factors are a result of the ongoing colonial approach of the current and prior governments, an approach that has involved systemic underfunding all along the way.
As we mark this day, we call on the federal government to be a global leader in the fight against TB abroad as well as at home.