Mr. Speaker, since this is my first opportunity to speak in this 43rd Parliament, I would like to start by congratulating you on your election as Speaker.
I would also like to thank the residents of Oakville North—Burlington for the confidence they have placed in me to represent them once again in this place. I would like to thank my son Fraser and his wife Taylor for their love and support, and my family, Jill, Rob and their son Bayley, as well as my incredible staff and campaign team, without whom I would not be here. I am incredibly proud of the work done over the last four years, and I am excited to continue that work in this new Parliament.
During the campaign, I had many conversations with constituents about their expectations for this new Parliament. They, along with all Canadians, expect us to work together as parliamentarians to make sure that we build an economy that leaves no one behind, take decisive action on climate change, make life more affordable, continue down the road to reconciliation and ensure that the health and safety of Canadians remains our number one priority through action on gun control and universal national pharmacare. The throne speech affirmed our commitment to delivering on those priorities.
The residents of Oakville North—Burlington are passionate about green space, the environment and fighting climate change. During the campaign, I met with the group Grandmothers Act to Save the Planet and others who want to see us take urgent action to save the planet. Two weeks ago, I attended a climate strike in Burlington organized by Caleb Smolenaars, a student in my riding.
Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, which is why we are taking bold, decisive action. In my riding, we have made investments in Oakville Transit, Burlington Transit and GO Transit so that service can be improved and people can get home faster. We have also invested in the Crosstown Trail and other walking and cycling infrastructure. We are offering incentives to get more people to use zero-emission vehicles. I have long advocated for better cycling infrastructure. Cycling is the ultimate zero-emission vehicle, and I will continue to work with the government and stakeholders to further advance cycling.
While we have taken action by introducing a price on pollution, there is much more work to be done. We are setting a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, protecting and conserving nature and reducing plastic pollution. Not long ago I challenged local restaurants to stop using plastic straws, and today I am pleased that most restaurants have stopped serving plastic straws automatically. Halton has some of the safest drinking water in Canada, so there is no need for plastic water bottles, yet we still have much work to do to reduce our plastic use in our everyday lives.
In our last mandate, we took steps to foster a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples and deliver a better life for families and communities, but there remains much work to be done. We will take action to co-develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We will continue our work on eliminating long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by 2021 and will co-develop legislation to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to high-quality and culturally relevant health care.
In 2012, I visited the hospital in Sioux Lookout, a partnership between federal, provincial, municipal and first nation governments. This hospital provides culturally appropriate treatment and care, hospice and long-term stay care and a wraparound continuum of care that ensures better health outcomes.
We must also address the recommendations of the report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and continue to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. I am happy to see that in my community we are working with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, indigenous knowledge keepers like Stephen Paquette and Sherry Saevil, and the Sheridan College Centre for Indigenous Learning and Support and Elijah Williams to advance reconciliation. Today, the Mississaugas of the Credit flag flies permanently at Oakville Town Hall. The Oakville Community Foundation and Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre are working with indigenous leaders to move us forward on the path to reconciliation.
As a government, the health and safety of Canadians is our number one priority. Thoughts and prayers are not enough when it comes to gun violence. In my role on the public safety committee during the last Parliament, I worked with my colleagues, as well as stakeholders like PolySeSouvient, the Coalition For Gun Control, Dr. Alan Drummond and emergency room physicians and many others to strengthen our firearms legislation. I am proud of my work on Bill C-71 last year to introduce amendments to protect those subjected to intimate partner violence.
During the election campaign, I was proud to run on our record of responsible firearms legislation and investments in law enforcement, border services, and programs that prevent young people from getting involved in guns and gangs. The action proposed in the throne speech to ban military-style assault weapons, like the one used at Polytechnique 30 years ago, is long overdue.
We are the only country that has universal health care that does not have pharmacare as part of it. As former parliamentary secretary to the minister of health, I was able to work with the minister to make significant changes that will see the cost of drugs reduced for Canadians. No one should have to decide between putting food on the table and taking medication.
We know that women are disproportionately impacted by the high cost of drugs because of the precarious nature of their work. I have heard stories of women who stopped taking beta blockers after a heart attack because they could not afford them and women who stay with an abusive partner simply for the drug plan that covers the expensive medications they need. This is unacceptable. That is why our move to a universal national pharmacare program is welcome news for Canadians.
Too many Canadians have been touched by cancer. Certainly one of the highlights of my first term was the $150-million investment the Canadian government will be making in the Terry Fox Research Institute to create the marathon of hope cancer centres with its partners. Through my volunteer work with the Terry Fox Foundation, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. David Malkin and his work at SickKids with Terry Fox PROFYLE.
Cancer remains the number one disease killer of children. During this term, I will honour children like Carson, Ayverie and Teagan, who were taken far too young by this horrible disease, and support the work of Helena's Hope to ensure that our platform commitment to fund childhood cancer research is honoured.
Oakville North—Burlington is an affluent community, but that does not mean there are not those who struggle to make ends meet or who live in poverty. We must make sure we have an economy that works for all Canadians, including the most marginalized.
Affordability is an issue in my community. I have had the pleasure of working with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, which has said that our national housing strategy has been transformative for its work. Recently, Affordable Housing Halton held an event where Andrew Balahura from the Halton region talked about the work it is doing, with the help of our federal government, to support those who need a safe, affordable place to live. We must also ensure that young people can buy their first home. That is why the proposed changes to the first-time homebuyers program will make a difference in my riding.
Ford Motor Company of Canada's assembly plant and head office in Oakville are of vital importance to Oakville and the surrounding area. It will be critical to ensure its success, not just today but in the future. Small and medium-sized businesses are the drivers of our Canadian economy and we will continue to provide an environment for them to grow and create well-paying middle-class jobs.
Gender equality and ending gender-based violence remain a top priority for me personally and for our government. I have had the privilege of working with some incredible local and national organizations, like Halton Women's Place, SAVIS, CAGIS, Actua and many more. I look forward to continuing our work. I am pleased to be launching the young women in leadership program shortly, which my team and I developed three years ago to give young women career mentors in Halton. The number-one obstacle to the full participation of women in the workplace is the lack of affordable quality child care. Ensuring that women have access to child care continues to be a priority for our government.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Nairobi Summit, reaffirming Canada's commitment to the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development. I heard time and again that other countries look to Canada's leadership when it comes to empowering women, ending gender-based violence and poverty, realizing gender equality and taking urgent and sustained action to realize sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women at home and abroad.
Canadians are expecting us to listen and collaborate on the many issues where there is common ground between us. It is a rare privilege to take a seat in this place, and one that I do not take for granted. I look forward to getting to work and I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.