Mr. Speaker, I want to say right at the beginning that I am sharing my time with the really effective and remarkably hard-working member of Parliament for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
There is no secret that we will be supporting the bill because of the NDP amendments. Historically, for the first time since Confederation, we now have provisions for most Canadian workers to have sick leave. The NDP amendments also force the government back on what it was trying to do, which was to cut back on the amount of money that will go to families who are desperately trying to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads.
For those reasons we will be supportive, but we deplore how the government took it to the precipice, the very edge of the cliff. At a time when so many Canadian families are struggling, they left over a million Canadian families not knowing on Sunday night, as the emergency benefits expired, whether they would actually have the wherewithal to feed their families. That is what I deplore, that the government did not think about what the impacts of its actions and its lack of action would be for the many, many families across the country impacted by its decisions over the last few weeks. The Prime Minister wanted to avoid the controversy of the many scandals that we have seen erupt around COVID funding, but the government did not think about the impact on regular Canadian families. We deplore that.
I would like to devote most of my brief few minutes today to another deplorable fact, which is the government's treatment of people with disabilities.
We will recall that, as the pandemic hit, the government took about four days to put in place an aid package, not for people with disabilities or seniors, or anyone else, but for Canada's big banks. It was for $750 billion, an unbelievable amount. Three-quarters of a trillion dollars in liquidity supports was provided to Canada's immensely profitable banking sector. There were no conditions attached to that. It was just a massive handout of largesse and support for the banking sector. Since then, of course, we have seen banks in Canada racking up, during a pandemic when people are struggling and businesses closing, over $50 billion in profits so far. That is just in the last six months.
We see how the government can act with alacrity when it wants to. When banking lobbyists come, there are no holds barred. It just provides the hundreds of billions of dollars in liquidity supports that the banking sector asks for. We have seen the massive increase in inequality across the length and breadth of this country because of that alacrity to always respond to the rich and the well-connected.
There are 20 billionaires in Canada who have increased their wealth over the course of this pandemic in the last six months. While so many families are struggling and so many small businesses in my riding and ridings across the country are struggling to avoid that tragic moment when they close the door, turn the key for the last time and walk away from what is often a lifetime's investment, 20 billionaires have increased their wealth by $37 billion.
Let us contrast that with the situation of people with disabilities in this country. As colleagues may be aware, I worked with people with disabilities in British Columbia. I helped to found the disability employment network. What we found was that there are so many obstacles put into place for Canadians with disabilities across this country. If we could prioritize accessibility in this country, we would be seeing a country that is vastly different from what it is now.
Right now, half of the people who have to go to food banks to make ends meet are people with disabilities. More than half of the homeless, the people who are sleeping in street corners and parks across this country, are people with disabilities. That should be a source of shame to every single one of us in the House and every single Canadian across this country.
We believed that things needed to change, so we moved immediately. In April, as colleagues will recall, we brought forward a motion. The motion was for the government to proceed without delay to provide emergency supports to people with disabilities. It passed on April 29, unanimously. Every single member of Parliament in the House said it had to be a priority.
Then nothing happened for weeks and weeks, as the pandemic increased, as people struggled, as people with disabilities who were seeing increased expenses were trying to figure how they could make ends meet for another month. The government sat for about a month and a half before it endeavoured to bring forward legislation that missed the vast majority of people with disabilities. We said this is not good enough, and in July the member for Elmwood—Transcona provided very important guidance to the minister and to the government on how to set up a system.
We achieved, in July, a bill that provided supports to most people with disabilities. To our chagrin, we found out that a vast number of people with disabilities are not even coded into the federal system. One would think that would mean cabinet and the government would act immediately. If we are missing a third of people with disabilities, let us code them into the system so that we can provide supports for all, but no, that never happened.
We still passed the legislation through the House in July. The member for Elmwood—Transcona said, if we code it now, at least the people who are registered in the federal system will get their supports at the end of August. That was good direction. That was good advice and we put the legislation through. This is phase two now. We have been waiting since April and now we are one day away from the month of October. The banking sector received $750 billion in liquidity supports in four days, and Canadians with disabilities struggling just to keep a roof over their heads, struggling to put food on their tables, have not received one cent.
This is not something that is partisan. Every single one of us in here, every single one of the members of Parliament who are listening right now on Zoom, should be ashamed of what the results have been. The most disadvantaged people in our country have not received one cent of support in the greatest pandemic that we have seen in over a century. That should shock all of us. That should make all of us ashamed, yet nothing has happened. We raised this issue continuously. We have negotiated three agreements now where the government has agreed to provide the supports. Parliament as a whole said in April, without delay, let us get this support out to people with disabilities across the country, yet nothing has happened.
I am ashamed and members of the NDP caucus are ready right now to go across the street, to go to the CRA, and start licking stamps. If there are not enough stamps on the cheques, we will send them out. If the cheques have not been printed, we will help any way we can. We want to make sure that money gets in the hands of people with disabilities immediately. There can be no excuse for any further delay. This has been the biggest shame of the pandemic: The government for six months has done nothing to support the ones who are most in need.
I will say that I am optimistic for the long term. I see disability activists stepping forward and speaking out with powerful voices like never before. I am thinking of people like Penelope, Maddie, Nunya, Mondee, Patrick and Sarah. These are disability activists who are making people, through social media, aware of what their daily lives and struggles are like. I am optimistic, despite what is a source of national shame, that eventually we will get to the point where people with disabilities will have the same rights in Canada that they have in other countries, the same accessibility. We will end the practice of ramps that end with two stairs, or deaf events with American sign language interpreters but nobody from the deaf community invited, or big signs in Braille at the entrance of colleges and universities but inside no accessibility.
We will build the kind of inclusive society where Canadians with disabilities can fully contribute, as they want to do and as they can if we eliminate the obstacles, to the growth and the betterment of our country. However, it starts with providing those supports now. The government has no excuse for delay. Let us get that support into the hands of people with disabilities immediately, so that they have the wherewithal to get through the next period of this pandemic.