Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here today, on traditional Algonquin territory, to respond to the question posed by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
We have followed through on our commitment as a government to launch a truly national, independent inquiry into the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It is an important step in our journey of reconciliation with indigenous people in Canada.
Last winter and last spring, we listened to ideas on how the inquiry should be designed. There were 18 face-to-face meetings that involved one or more of the ministers of this government. They involved more than 2,000 survivors, and we received another 4,100 responses online.
In August, we named five members to the commission of inquiry, with Judge Marion Buller as the chief commissioner.
The independent commission is authorized to examine and report on systemic causes of all forms of violence that indigenous women and girls experience and their greater vulnerability to that violence. The commission will be looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why the higher level of violence occurs.
The commission is also directed to examine and report on institutional policies and practices implemented in response to violence experienced by indigenous women and girls, including police conduct.
The commission is directed to make recommendations on concrete and effective action that can be taken to remove systemic causes of violence and to increase the safety of indigenous women and girls in Canada. It is also directed to make recommendations on ways to honour and commemorate the missing and murdered indigenous girls and women in our country.
The commission began its work in September 2016, as set out in the Government of Canada Order in Council.
The commission of inquiry is one step, albeit one very important step. While the commission is doing its work, we must continue to make lives better and make lives safer for indigenous women and girls. We will help first nations, Inuit, and Métis people secure the foundation of healthy and safe communities.
We took immediate action this year on root causes, with investments in women's shelters, housing, education, and child welfare. Across the country, $89.9 million will be spent over two years for the construction and renovation of shelters and transition houses for victims of violence in provinces and territories.
Our government made a commitment to launch the inquiry and ensure that it was independent. That is exactly what we are doing. The commission has a mandate to proceed with the work that is required. It is doing that. At the same time, we are investing to ensure safer communities for women and girls across Canada. We are doing everything we need to do to ensure that women and girls are safe in this country in all indigenous regions, in all indigenous communities.
When we hear from the commission of inquiry, we will have more ideas on ways to remove the systemic problems that have contributed to the loss of so many women and girls. In the meantime, we are taking action on all fronts, and we will continue to do that.
Our government this year was not only proud to meet our commitment to indigenous communities and Canadians on the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls but was proud to make investments, investments that were long overdue, for women and girls in our communities so that they can have hope for a future where they will be safer and more secure.