Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to offer you my congratulations on being elected today. You play a central role in the work that we all do here, and I wish you well.
[Member spoke in indigenous languages]
It is an honour to rise in this chamber today and to second the motion of my esteemed colleague, the member for Brome—Missisquoi, regarding the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Canadians have delivered to the government an ambitious mandate to improve their lives, strengthen this country and bolster Canada's place in the world. Today's Speech from the Throne provides our government with a road map on how to get there. Over the next few minutes, I will speak with pride to this House about some of the details of how we plan to navigate through this road map.
First, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the people of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. They have given me the privilege to serve them in the House of Commons as their member of Parliament. I want to thank my constituents for placing their trust in me. I am grateful to my constituents from all corners of our large and diverse riding. I would like to recognize the thriving communities in Pemberton, up the Sunshine Coast and on Bowen Island. Every day I take my seat in this chamber, I will never forget why I am here: to serve the people in my constituency and to help build a better Canada.
Before going further, I would also like to give special thanks to my family, especially my partner Nicole, who have supported me in this endeavour, often doing the hard work behind the scenes, which is often a thankless job.
Indeed, I believe the Speech from the Throne has provided us all with a reminder of the responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. Millions of Canadians cast their votes in the election this October, and they have sent us all a very clear message. Canadians want their politicians to put the public interest first. They want us to work together on the things that matter to them, to their families and to their communities. They have elected a minority government with an important agenda: to fight climate change; to strengthen the middle class and help create good, well-paying jobs; to make life more affordable for Canadians; to continue firmly on the path of reconciliation with indigenous peoples; to keep our citizens safe on our streets with less gun violence; to strengthen our health care system and modernize it for the 21st century; to provide more affordable housing; to provide investments in infrastructure, public transit, science and innovation; and to secure Canada's place in the world. These are just some of the important challenges that lie ahead of us. They are challenges not just for the government, but for all parliamentarians. It is that simple. We all have a mandate to find common ground in this Parliament.
The government is ready to work hard to make historic progress in all these areas. I am confident that, with goodwill, my colleagues from all sides of the House can work together to make the changes that Canadians want. Indeed, I know we can come together as parliamentarians. I have seen it in my work before being elected to this House. As an environmental and natural resource management lawyer, I have seen first-hand what can happen when people collaborate. I have supported governments around the world to improve the management of aquatic ecosystems, as well as the governance of natural resource sectors, on behalf of the United Nations and other international development agencies. I have represented first nations, municipalities, small businesses and non-profits on environmental and corporate legal matters.
It is not unusual for people to come to the table with very different interests, but it is also not unrealistic for them to walk away with a shared agenda and common goals. It happens in communities throughout the country. It can happen here in the House of Commons. That spirit of co-operation can also happen as leaders throughout our country work together to find solutions to our shared challenges.
As someone who was born and raised in West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, I am proud that the Speech from the Throne has spoken clearly about the importance of all of our country's regions and their local needs. This government knows that the economic concerns being felt by Canadians in our regions are real. It is listening to Canadians in those regions.
On this, Canadians can be sure that the government will work with provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous groups, stakeholders, industries and Canadians to find solutions.
There is no greater challenge facing this country, and indeed this world, than fighting climate change. The science on this growing threat to our planet is clear. It is undeniable. Already we are seeing the affects: devastating floods and forest fires, coastal erosion and pollution of our oceans.
The changes to the world we know now will only grow worse, spiralling faster and faster in the coming years and decades. We are leaving a world to our children and our grandchildren that could be much different than the world in which we have grown up. We recognize this threat. We must act. We must do our best to fight this threat.
I believe strongly in this government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. I am committed to building upon this groundbreaking plan to ensure that Canadian businesses will seize upon the immense economic opportunities that are involved in the transition to the clean economy of the 21st century.
Over the past four years, our government has provided national leadership to take action on climate change. In October's election, a clear majority of Canadians voted in favour of ambitious climate action.
The Speech from the Throne has made it clear that this government will deliver. We will set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Our goal will be ambitious but necessary as we protect the environment while we grow the economy. We have already taken the lead in ensuring that there is a price on pollution throughout the country. We will continue working with our partners to reduce emissions in the years ahead.
There are many other important measures that this government will take. We will help make energy-efficient homes more affordable. We will make it easier for Canadians to buy zero-emission vehicles. Whistler is already leading the way in this in changing our transportation habits. Last month, I attended the electric vehicle sustainability summit in Whistler, B.C. to talk about how governments and companies could work together to achieve our zero-emission targets.
We will work toward making clean and affordable power available in all our communities. We will work with companies in the transition to the clean technology future. An example of this is Huron Clean Energy in Squamish, which is facing the climate crisis head on. It is just one example of the companies providing the technology and the solutions we need in our transition to the low-carbon economy. Their leadership in the field of carbon capture is turning our home riding into a hub for clean technology.
Over the last four years, our country has experienced strong growth, but too many Canadians have difficulty keeping up with the rising cost of living. Our government is determined to take action to make life more affordable for Canadians. The Speech from the Throne has identified some of the areas where we will be taking action on behalf of our citizens.
We will cut taxes for all Canadians except the wealthiest. This will provide more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians who need it the most.
We will continue to take action with significant investments in affordable housing. Too many Canadians are unable to buy their first home. We will also introduce measures to make it easier for more people to purchase their homes.
This government will take action to ease the concerns faced by workers, families and seniors. We will assist parents with the time and money they need to raise their children. We will support students as they bear the costs of higher education and skills training. We will increase the federal minimum wage. We will reduce cellphone bills by 25%. We will strengthen pensions for our seniors.
As we take these measures, we will press ahead with an economic agenda that benefits all Canadians in the years ahead.
Our government is committed to moving ahead with the new NAFTA with the United States and Mexico. We will continue to make significant investments in infrastructure throughout the country. We will work to tear down the trade barriers now faced by businesses and farmers when they look to achieve success both internationally and domestically.
As we are doing all this, our government will stay focused on growing the economy with a fiscal plan that is responsible.
The Speech from the Throne has placed a great emphasis on another key pillar of this government's agenda. Four years ago we promised to put Canada on a path toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples. For far too long our country neglected to take the actions necessary to give indigenous peoples a real shot at success. We said that must change, and we took the first steps on that road to reconciliation.
It is a long road, but we have seen real progress in just four years. Eighty-seven long-term drinking water advisories have been eliminated. There is greater equity in funding for first nations education. Parliament has passed legislation to protect indigenous languages and affirm indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held important hearings and delivered its report. However, this is just a beginning. The work toward reconciliation has not ended.
This government is committed to doing more and I will mention some examples. We will work toward eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by 2021. We will codevelop and introduce legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of our mandate. We will codevelop legislation so that indigenous peoples have access to culturally relevant and high-quality mental health care and quality health care services. We will ensure that indigenous peoples who grew up and were harmed under a child welfare system that has been discriminatory will be compensated in a fair and timely manner. As well, we will live up to the spirit and intent of treaties, agreements and other arrangements with indigenous peoples.
One of any government's top responsibilities is to provide a place for its citizens where they can feel safe and where their quality of life is good. In recent years, Canadians have increasingly seen stories in the media about deaths in their communities as a result of gun violence. Each of these violent episodes has been a tragedy. Too many Canadians have been killed. Too many relatives have grieved the loss of a loved one. Our government has pledged to act.
We will crack down on the gun crime that is haunting too many of our communities. We will ban military-style assault rifles and take steps to introduce a buyback program for the weapons. We will work toward giving municipalities that want to ban handguns the ability to do so.
In each of our communities and, indeed, within our own families, there is often no issue more important as the ability to access high-quality health care. For many decades now, Canadians have recognized that a publicly funded universal health care system, medicare, is what makes us strong as a country.
As we head into 2020, more than half a century after the birth of medicare, it is important that we all work together as Canadians to strengthen and to modernize it. The Speech from the Throne has laid out an ambitious but achievable agenda to make that happen. Our government will be working with the provinces and territories to strengthen the health care system so that Canadians get the service they deserve.
Too many Canadians cannot get access to primary care family doctors and to mental health care. We will work with provinces, territories and health professionals to change that.
The scourge of opioid and substance abuse has also cost too many lives and shattered too many families. We need to do more to help people struggling with their addictions.
Finally, it is time to bring medicare into the 21st century. Modern-day medicine means physicians are increasingly able to treat their patients through medication, and yet too many patients who fall ill are unable to afford the costly prescriptions they are prescribed and they become even more sick. This is just not fair.
As the Speech from the Throne says, pharmacare has become the key missing piece of universal health care in this country. Our government will take steps to introduce and implement a national pharmacare program so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need. I look forward to all members of this House working together to achieve this historic objective.
As we look toward improving the lives of Canadians, we must never forget that we have a responsibility to also promote our core values on the international stage. Those values include the promotion of democracy, protection of human rights and respect for international law. Our government will work in the tradition of being a coalition builder globally in these areas. We will stand up for the rules-based international order and we will renew our commitment to NATO and to United Nations peacekeeping missions. Canada's voice will be heard at the United Nations, particularly in the Security Council.
We will not forget that Canadians are a compassionate people. We will provide targeted funds for international development, including for education and gender equality.
I would like to conclude by returning to where I began my remarks. Canadians have sent us here to work constructively on their behalf. As the Speech from the Throne reminds us, our role in this democratic process is a privilege and a responsibility. Indeed, we have been reminded that we are here to serve everyone, regardless of gender, faith, language, custom or skin colour. We are here to make a better Canada. I believe the Speech from the Throne has provided us all with a road map of how to travel that route, and I would encourage members to join together and work in collaboration as we move forward.