Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand behind the amended Bill C-71 at third reading. In my riding of Surrey Centre, guns and gangs have plagued the streets. Gun violence has increased, and it has continued to increase in the last few years. This is an issue that all three levels of government are working hard to tackle.
At the federal level, the Minister of Public Safety has also announced that the federal government will spend $327 million over five years on anti-gang initiatives and gun crime crackdown, and $100 million ever year thereafter. The government also held a summit in March to identify the best ways to control and curb gun violence. I am incredibly proud to represent Surrey Centre at the federal level, and to help end gun violence in my riding.
I have worked hard fighting against youth violence since my teens, and I have seen how prevention, intervention and community engagement combined can end and control these horrific levels of violence. I was honoured to be part of the mayor's task force on gang violence prevention, which was formed nine months ago, and has recently released its final report which contains six recommendations.
I believe that the first step in tackling this issue is to improve the firearms regime in Canada. Over the last decade, it is fair to say that controls over the transfer and movement of firearms in Canada were weakened. At the same time, converted automatic firearms have fallen into the wrong hands far too often. The Governor in Council used its authority to deem certain models as non-restricted or restricted, despite the fact that they met the Criminal Code definition for prohibited firearms.
In keeping with the mandate from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice have taken action to ensure that our regime is more appropriate. Strengthened background checks, licence verification, required record-keeping by vendors, more sensible rules around transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms, and a consistent approach to classification are before us today in the form of Bill C-71.
I am pleased to see that the legislation, as amended by the committee, has further strengthened the original proposals. The original Bill C-71 aimed to enhance background checks, for example. The amended Bill C-71 has taken that miles further, by adding specific new criteria that must be considered over the life history of an applicant, namely, whether the applicant has a history of threatening conduct; the applicant is or was previously prohibited by a non-contact order and presently poses a risk to the safety and security of any person; the person was previously subject to a firearms prohibition under order and in relation to an offence where violence was used, threatened or attempted against a person's intimate partner or former intimate partner; and the applicant, for any reason, poses a risk of harm to any person.
The amendment has taken this further by clarifying that threatened violence and threatening conduct can include what is communicated online, through the Internet or other digital networks. That is a welcome addition to the current regime.
Presently, when licensing authorities determine whether a person is eligible for a firearms licence, they are only required to consider certain factors, like a history of violence or mental illness that is linked to violent behaviour over the preceding five years of the applicant's life. Under Bill C-71, these authorities would be required to consider certain factors spanning a person's entire life rather than just the past five years. This will be a positive change in Canada. It would increase the confidence of Canadians in the overall effectiveness of our firearms licensing regime, and would assure them that all firearms licence applicants will, in the interest of public safety, have their backgrounds comprehensively vetted.
I would like to point out that at this stage, this does not in any way unfairly single out those with mental health issues; it is only mandatory for chief firearms officers or judges to consider mental health treatment related to violence, or threatened or attempted violence. All of this is in the interests of public safety and all Canadians.