Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that, at this point, we are not making any decisions. The second reading vote is simply about sending the bill to committee.
We just heard that the Prime Minister and his cabinet will vote against the bill because they vote against all private members' bills. By definition, those bills are not part of the government's agenda. They have even voted against Liberal private members' bills.
However, I sincerely hope that the other Liberal members will be able to vote freely because a second reading vote is an opportunity to show openness. In his mandate letter, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development was instructed to lead the development of a poverty reduction strategy. That is exactly why I introduced this bill. I wanted to contribute to the process.
Tony Martin and Jean Crowder held consultations for nearly 10 years. I took their findings and turned them into this bill. I wanted to contribute to the government's deliberations on developing a poverty reduction strategy even though I am well aware that a committee is in the midst of a study on poverty as part of that process.
Voting in favour of Bill C-245 at second reading does not mean that it will be put to another vote next month. We will have time to read the report that comes out of the study on poverty and see the results of the minister's work on the poverty reduction strategy. We are simply asking that Bill C-245 be allowed to contribute to the process and the discussion on what needs to be done.
Similarly, I have discussed the issue with the two Conservative poverty critics, and we managed to agree on certain amendments. Earlier I heard my colleagues talking about human dignity and I heard them say they would like to see full employment. We agree completely, but we are well aware that full employment is not going to happen overnight.
In the meantime, this bill does not create any new programs or offer any concrete solutions. I am the first to support concrete solutions, as I have worked in community-based organizations my entire life. Clearly, concrete solutions on the ground are what is needed to lift people out of poverty. However, this bill is simply saying that a poverty reduction strategy requires specific targets.
Where do we want to be in five or 10 years? We need to measure the effectiveness of our poverty reduction measures every year. For example, we have to ask ourselves whether the government's actions from the past year helped reduce the level of poverty or caused it to increase. We need to check on our progress because, unfortunately, a growing number of people are ending up in poverty.
Canada's food banks issued their report last week. They made it clear that a growing number of families are using food banks. By all accounts, the actions we are taking are causing poverty levels to increase, not decrease. We have to keep a check on our progress.
I urge hon. members from both sides of the House to vote in favour of Bill C-245, so that it can be given consideration by the committee that is studying poverty and by the minister, who is tasked with developing a poverty reduction strategy.
I introduced Bill C-245 because I fundamentally believe that we can work together. Poverty is not a partisan issue. Every one of the 338 members of the House can see it when they return to their ridings. There is poverty in every one of our regions. The face of poverty is the same everywhere in the country. We need to work together and that is why I introduced this bill.