Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Orléans.
I appreciate this opportunity to take part in this very important debate, which is taking place in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Marylène Levesque.
Before going any further, let me offer my sincere condolences to the victim's family and friends. Our thoughts are with them and with all the victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
Fundamentally, what happened on that day should never have happened, and it is gender-based violence. I want to take my time to shed light on gender-based violence in Canada, which takes place far too often in the country and is completely unacceptable.
In Canada, gender-based violence continues to take place at an alarming rate. Between 2008 and 2018, over 700 women were killed by a current or former legally married or common-law husband or other type of partner.
In 2018 alone, a total of 164 women and girls were killed in Canada.
The reality for indigenous women and girls is even worse. In 2018, the rate of homicide was nearly seven times higher for indigenous women and girls than of their non-indigenous counterparts.
What is more, 32% of women in Canada have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in public.
In my riding of Brampton West, the region I represent, in the region of Peel, half of all homicides in 2019 were domestic related, specifically related to gender-based violence.
These statistics represent women. They represent women with families, women with futures, either taken from them or forever altered because of the long-term impact of gender-based violence.
I could go on and on. Gender-based violence has lifelong impacts on an individual's physical, mental and sexual health. The effects are serious and long term and impacts not just their families and friends, but entire communities.
Despite progress, gender-based violence persists as an intolerable and preventable problem in Canada, one that our government has taken concrete steps to address.
In 2017, we launched “It's Time: Canada's Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-based Violence”, the first strategy of its kind. The strategy has invested $200 million in federal initiatives to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families and promote responsive legal and justice systems.
I want to thank members of the minister's gender-based violence advisory council for their tireless and wise counsel as we have worked together over the past several years to end gender-based violence. This council is comprised of survivors, front-line service providers and experts in the field from across the country.
I also want to take an opportunity to thank the countless not-for-profit organizations in the community that support women and girls fleeing violence. I would like to especially thank Hope 24/7 in Brampton West. It does incredible work to support survivors of gender-based violence.
Since 2015, our government has taken vital steps to strengthen our justice system and support survivors, including by enshrining a clearer definition of consent to clarify that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting, that only yes means yes, and to ensure that the past sexual history of individuals cannot be used to question their credibility.
We have also done this by toughening the domestic assault laws by establishing higher maximum sentences for repeat offenders; ensuring the justice system recognizes the seriousness of these offences; recognizing strangulation as an elevated form of assault; mandating the RCMP to complete the review of over 30,000 sexual assault case files that had previously been deemed unfounded in order to strengthen police accountability, training and awareness, investigative accountability, victim support, public education and communication.
We have also funded at least 7,000 shelter spaces, created or repaired for survivors of family violence, which means that women and girls fleeing domestic violence have a place to go. We have provided five days of paid leave for victims of family violence working in a federally regulated sector so that survivors have a greater opportunity to seek support, which can help with the healing process.
In 2018, we became the first government to introduce and pass legislation dealing specifically with workplace harassment and sexual violence in Parliament and in federally regulated workplaces. In 2019, we introduced the national strategy to combat human trafficking, a whole-of-government approach to address this unthinkable crime, and amendments were made to the Criminal Code to strengthen related laws.
Finally, this past December, we released data from the first-ever national gender-based violence survey. The survey of safety in public and private spaces is a first of three national surveys funded through Women and Gender Equality Canada as part of our federal gender-based violence strategy. We are also funding a survey on gender-based violence with post-secondary institutions and gender-based violence within workplaces in Canada. The data from these surveys will help improve information on the nature and extent of various forms of gender-based violence in the general population. This has improved our understanding of the experiences of survivors who have endured gender-based violence, so that we have more responsive initiatives that are better tailored to their needs.
This year, we intend to build on the work by the creation of the national action plan to end gender-based violence. As outlined in the recent Speech from the Throne, we will work with our partners so that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services, no matter who they are or where they live.
I think it is fair to say that our government has taken action on gender-based violence, to prevent it and to ensure that those who experience it have access to timely and responsive services. We are not sitting idly by while crimes such as the one that took place on January 22 in Quebec City continue to take place. We are tackling this problem head-on, and we know that until there are no more deaths like this or experiences of gender-based violence in Canada, there is always more that needs to be done.
Gender-based violence must not be tolerated. We will continue to work with survivors, community partners, the private sector and all orders of government to end it in all its forms. We also know that there is an awful lot of work that is left to do, and I look forward to working with all members in this House to make that happen.
Once again, on behalf of myself, all of my constituents and all members of this House, we send our deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends on this tragedy.