Mr. Speaker, Canada marks Gender Equality Week this week.
From the New Democrats' perspective and women in the grassroots movement, women continue to bear the brunt of successive failures by both Conservative and now Liberal governments to invest properly in women's true equality, the programs that would combat the inequality that they face.
Women would have more to celebrate this week if the government, with its very strong mandate from the people and very strong intentions and declarations of gender equality, had actually acted on that mandate to implement.
I am going to focus today particularly on ending violence against women. Canada made a commitment to the United Nations, and I am very proud that our country stood up with other countries, saying that yes, we will use our power to end violence against women and we will enact a national action plan to end violence against women. However, the government has not enacted a national action plan. It has a federal plan which is much more narrow.
What happens within the United Nations system is there are visits every five years by the United Nations representatives to find out whether Canada or any country that has signed on to a UN declaration or treaty is actually upholding its commitments.
In April of this year, Canada had its visit from the UN special rapporteur to end violence against women. She was only in Canada for 13 days, but she visited such an array of regions of the country and talked to such a variety of strong grassroots women's groups and front-line workers who gave her fantastic advice.
She summed up the ways that Canada has failed. First, violence against women in Canada is still a serious, pervasive and systemic problem, unfinished business that requires urgent actions. Second, women's human rights in Canada are protected in an incomplete, patchwork way. Third, federalism should not be a barrier to human rights implementation.
I had this debate in the House with the Prime Minister which was the impetus for this further debate today. He said that I should not be so judgmental and that I should recognize that Canada is having conversations at the United Nations among other partners. This is the root of the problem. The conversations do not actually enact real change for women on the ground.
The New Democrats are going to continue to press this in the most constructive way we can. Please, let us get on with the implementation. The talk is over. We know everyone would benefit from achieving gender equality. We know it is the right thing to do, but it cannot just be the celebratory stuff and it cannot just be conversations.
The national action plan to end violence against women, as I noted, is one of the failures. There is a dire shortage of shelters for women and children escaping violence. There is a lack of sustainable funding for a sufficient number of safe and confidential shelters. There is inconsistency in policy and legislation across all jurisdictions in order to promptly address sexual violence on campuses and in schools.
It is a damning report from the UN special rapporteur. What has the government done since April to put the UN special rapporteur's mind at ease?