Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-245. It has a lot going for it, but it certainly deserves to be debated and discussed. Bill C-245 is about developing a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada. It was introduced by our colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, and I congratulate her on this initiative.
The purpose of the bill is to encourage everyone to participate in poverty reduction. The bill talks about promoting inclusion as a way to fight poverty in Canada, which is certainly a worthy objective. Once again, I would like to congratulate my colleague on her tremendous work in preparing this bill. I would add that the excellent work she has done is in line with our government's agenda to reduce poverty in Canada. I have to add the fact that Bill C-245 is perfectly consistent with our government's direction on this issue.
We share the same vision, the vision of an inclusive society in which everyone can fully participate. However, the bill would provide for the appointment of an independent poverty reduction commissioner and also the establishment of a national council on poverty elimination and social inclusion. The bill would also amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add social condition as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
Let us be clear, the government is determined to fight poverty and the Liberals agree with the intent of Bill C-245. However, as my colleague knows, we cannot support it at this time. This position is not adversarial, but rather based on logic and common sense.
The reality is that we are not supporting Bill C-245 because some of its initiatives have already been or are about to be implemented. In other words, the work has already started. We sincerely believe that the government's initiatives were specifically designed to achieve the same objectives as those of Bill C-245.
I do not have enough time to list all current and future initiatives, but I will talk about some of the most important ones. To begin with, there is the study of poverty reduction strategies undertaken by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. The committee will criss-cross the country to hold in-depth consultations with key stakeholders and the general public.
It is absolutely vital that we wait for the committee's report and listen to what it has to say before making any important decisions, such as appointing an independent poverty reduction commissioner.
Our government made an absolutely fundamental promise to Canadians. We promised that our decisions about policies and programs would be based on facts and consultations. Today, we must keep our word, just as we have in the past and will in the future. It is as simple as that.
I mentioned the study of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. In fact, that study was part of something much bigger. I am referring to the very broad mandate of my colleague, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. He was entrusted with this mandate by the Prime Minister of Canada, who asked him to lead the development of a Canadian poverty reduction strategy that includes very specific targets as well as performance indicators that will tell us whether we are achieving the stated goals.
The minister recently appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. He tabled a discussion paper on poverty in Canada entitled “Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy”. That document was designed to open a dialogue on the subject of poverty reduction in Canada.
This is a valuable tool that will help the committee to carry out its work. It will also help us, as a government, to develop our strategy. As a result, it would be premature to make any decisions about a specific approach, such as the one proposed in Bill C-245, until the discussions and analyses are complete. That does not mean that Bill C-245 does not deserve our attention and respect, quite the contrary.
As I said earlier, the member did an excellent job on this bill, which contains many good suggestions, such as the consultations with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, indigenous communities, and many other stakeholders and partners. What we are saying is that we should consult people and listen to what they have to say before making a decision. In other words, all in good time. There is a time for everything.
It is also important to point out that last spring the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development began discussions to develop a Canadian poverty reduction strategy. He initiated this important conversation with his provincial and territorial counterparts as well as with many stakeholders in various regions of the country.
In September, our government launched the tackling poverty together project. As part of this project, the government will conduct case studies in six communities in order to obtain a regional perspective and a better understanding of poverty in communities in Canada. It will also allow us to hear directly from Canadians living in poverty and receive recommendations from organizations that deliver poverty reduction programs. The tackling poverty together project will also be a valuable tool for developing our strategy.
My point is that our partners expect a real collaborative effort from us. They expect to be consulted. In fact, they demand it, and rightly so, and that is what we are doing. Therefore, supporting Bill C-245 and its initiatives would go against the approach we promised to adopt, namely to hold consultations.
As I said at the outset, our government made a solemn promise to Canadians. We promised to do things differently, to work together, and to consult Canadians, and we intend to keep our word. I would remind the House that we are already working on budget 2017, which will also include many commitments. We made commitments in 2016, and there will be more in 2017. We are also implementing our plan for a stronger middle class.
In closing, I would like to say that we can see right away that Bill C-245 is positive because it shows that the fight against poverty is something that every party and every member in this House cares about. It also shows that, despite our different political affiliations, we can share the same vision. When we share the same vision, we can join forces and work together to achieve that vision. In this particular case, it is the vision of an inclusive society in which everyone can fully participate. It is the vision of a country in which inclusion leads the fight against poverty, and this is already quite an accomplishment.