Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to a private member's bill that deserves recognition. Bill C-245 is an act concerning the development of a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada. It was put forward by our colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. I would like to commend the hon. member for the great work she has accomplished with this legislation, and for the passion I know she has for this issue.
The truth is that this bill pairs well with our government's agenda. We share the same vision, a vision of an inclusive society in which people will be able to take part to their fullest. Bill C-245 provides for the development and implementation of a national strategy to reduce poverty in Canada. It also provides for the appointment of an independent poverty reduction commissioner and the establishment of the national council on poverty elimination and social inclusion.
Lastly, Bill C-245 provides for the amendment of the Canadian Human Rights Act to add the term “social condition” as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
As a government that is determined to fight poverty, we welcomed Bill C-245. Unfortunately, we just cannot support it. Not now. It is a matter of timing. Let me explain why we feel compelled to oppose Bill C-245.
A number of poverty reduction initiatives are already being advanced by our government and are still in various stages of development. We strongly believe that they are designed to achieve the same objectives as Bill C-245.
The first one that comes to mind is the study on poverty by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, also known as HUMA. The hon. member has been attending many of those meetings along with me. This study will take the committee across the country through in-depth consultations with key stakeholders, as well as the general public. We must wait for the committee's findings. We need to hear its recommendations before making any major decisions, such as the appointment of an independent poverty reduction commissioner.
Our government made a promise to Canadians that our decisions, policies and programs would be evidence based. We have to be true to our words.
I talked about HUMA's study, but this study is just part of something much bigger. What am I talking about is the mandate of my colleague, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. He was asked by our Prime Minister to lead the development of a Canadian poverty reduction strategy that would set targets and measures to reduce poverty.
In fact, the minister recently tabled, in front of HUMA, a discussion paper entitled, “Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy”. This document opens the dialogue on the subject of poverty reduction in Canada. It includes perspectives that could be helpful as HUMA conducts its work. That will help us develop our strategy.
It would be premature to decide on a specific approach, such as the one prescribed by Bill C-245, while discussions, engagement, and analysis of these initiatives are still under way. Bill C-245 makes numerous suggestions that could warrant consideration, such as consultations with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, indigenous communities, and various stakeholders. We have to ensure that such engagement happens prior to deciding on a specific approach, including the one outlined in Bill C-245.
In fact, last spring, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development did discuss the development of the Canadian poverty reduction strategy with his provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as with stakeholders from different parts of the country. This past September, the minister officially launched the tackling poverty together project. This important research project consists of six extensive case studies across Canada. This will help us better understand the impact of poverty reduction programs in communities that have identified poverty as an important issue.
What I am trying to say is that our partners are expecting us to engage with them, and they want to engage with us too. Supporting Bill C-245 and its proposed initiatives could be seen as contrary to the approach we have pledged to take.
Mr. Speaker, could I ask for a clarification? If I do not finish my remarks, I understand that I get 10 minutes. Is that correct?