Madam Speaker, I note the issue we are taking up tonight is a great concern for the NDP members on this side of the House about violence against women. The particular focus of the original question was around women in the Northwest Territories. They experience nine times the national rate of violence against women. Eighty per cent have no access to victims services, 85% have no violence-against-women shelter that they can enter, and many of them have no phones. How can they call for help if there is no phone?
This concern has been echoed by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. It is a body that tracks Canada's fulfillment of its commitments to the United Nations in this particular area. Every five years we get a report card. This is last year's report card. It says that the committee is concerned about the lack of shelters, support services, and other protective measures for women of gender-based violence, which reportedly prevents them from leaving their violent partners. The committee recommended strengthening services for women who are victims of gender-based violence by establishing shelters throughout the territory of Canada and ensuring the availability of psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration programs. The committee also noted with concern the insufficient measures taken to ensure that all cases of murdered and missing indigenous women are duly investigated and prosecuted.
The government's response has been that although the government had promised to protect women and girls experiencing domestic abuse and violence, in the budget this spring it announced instead $20 million each year over the next five years. That is going to be spent within governments and for the RCMP, rather than a plan to directly fund services to victims. The Liberals' commitment is almost the same as their commitment to space exploration and I would have thought we could look after things at home first. Given especially that spousal violence and sexual assault cost the economy an estimated $12 billion a year, we should spend on this the way that countries like Australia do. They are way ahead of us so far as establishing a national action plan and funding victims services support.
I note also repeated urging from many parties in different provinces to fund domestic-violence leave. This means that if a woman has to leave her partner she has a few days, kind of like sick pay in her workplace, that she could take to find a new apartment to resettle her family and then be able to return to work. Risking their job and that one link to economic security is a terrible thing. Again and again, witnesses at the status of women committee and advocates and labour organizers across the country have urged that Canada establish a paid domestic-violence leave. It does not need to be used very often, but when it is needed it could help enormously. The current government has offered just three days of leave, unpaid.
I would like to hear from the minister's representative what the actionable items are that the government is taking right now that would make women in our country safer today.