Mr. Speaker, drin gwiinzii. It is an honour to rise in this House as a newly elected member of Parliament. I would like to offer you my congratulations on being elected Speaker yesterday. I wish you well, and I know you will bring a steady hand to this House.
Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that today we are standing on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
I would also like to pay homage to the 14 first nations of the Yukon. This is a proud moment for the Yukon and for the people who call it their home. We are proud of the stunning beauty of our territory. We are forever committed to the caring nature that binds our northern community together, and we are deeply gratified to call ourselves members of a wider family, a family of people who call Canada their home.
In the recent election, the people of Yukon honoured me with their trust to be their representative here in Ottawa. I thank them for giving me this chance. It is a privilege to be standing here in this House on behalf of the people of Yukon.
Today I would like to say clearly, as we move forward in this Parliament, that I will do my best to fulfill my campaign commitments. I will work hard to maintain a strong voice for the Yukon and for the north in Ottawa.
I believe it is important to note the significance of what has occurred today. The Speech from the Throne has just been delivered by someone from northern Canada. Indeed, we must pause to reflect on this. Today we have a Governor General who has made it her life's work to promote and increase recognition of indigenous rights and northern affairs. The symbolism of this cannot be overstated.
Regardless of where we live in Canada, as a northern country we are all northerners at heart. We are a country that in its heart aspires for goodness, reaches for growth and looks for the better path. As we begin this Parliament, these are values we can never forget. They are values we must always adhere to.
Today's Speech from the Throne comes nearly two years after the world was plunged into the biggest health and economic crisis of our lifetime. Here in Canada we had a choice. We could retreat in fear from COVID-19 or join hands and work together to confront the challenge. I am proud to say that Canadians met the challenge. I saw it first-hand in my job as the chief medical officer of health in Yukon.
I want to take this moment to give tribute to my colleagues, my CMOH colleagues and the chief public health officer of Canada, who I worked with over the last two years. I was proud to be part of a team with them.
I saw people who did not flinch from the challenge wherever they were, from those at kitchen tables throughout the communities of our nation, to the municipal officials who kept watch over our villages, towns and cities. I saw first nation, Inuit and Métis leaders and elders, the leaders who oversaw our provinces and our territories, and those right here in Ottawa, where public servants and politicians from all parties worked together to accomplish what once seemed unthinkable.
We worked together to ensure that families had food on the table and roofs over their heads. We followed public health advisories, and we understood the need to wear a mask and keep our distance. We worked together to mobilize an immunization program that quickly saw millions of Canadians vaccinated against COVID-19.
We have shown what we can do. We can do big things, and we can do them quickly. This is the lesson of COVID-19.
As we consider today's throne speech, let us remember that this is not the time to be timid. This is not the time to back away from the challenges that lie before us just because they seem too big to overcome. This is a time to take action. It is time to get things done for Canadians.
In that regard, our government has come forward with a throne speech that presents ambitious plans to tackle big challenges. They include action on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, indigenous reconciliation, economic recovery, mental health and addiction, child care, affordable housing, diversity, and safe communities. Let us review each of these areas one by one.
As I mentioned earlier, in my work as chief medical officer of health in the Yukon, I witnessed the power of what we can accomplish when a health crisis hits us. I saw how hard my public health colleagues worked in the Yukon and throughout the country.
This throne speech clearly indicates that the government's priority remains getting the pandemic under control. Make no mistake: The best way to do that is vaccination. Our government is committed to meeting that objective.
We have mandated vaccination for federal and federally regulated workers, and for everyone travelling within Canada by plane, train or ship. Our government is securing next generation COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and doses for kids from 5 to 11, much to many parents' relief.
The pandemic is definitely not over, but we are firmly on the path that will lead us to the end of this unprecedented journey.
Our experience over the last two years has reinforced a valuable lesson, which is that our health care system is vital to our quality of life. It is at the heart of how we conduct ourselves as a compassionate, caring people, so the throne speech stresses that we must strengthen our health care system, especially for seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and those in our communities who are vulnerable. We have much work to do.
Health care needs to be more accessible to the many Canadians who are facing delays in their medical procedures. Our long-term care system needs reform. We must finally provide the mental health care services that many Canadians are waiting for, and we must address the other health crisis that has killed thousands of Canadians.
We must move quickly and with compassion to help the many Canadians who are in the grip of addiction to drugs. The opioids or toxic drugs crisis is a scourge we must address. Our neighbours, friends and family members are living with and dying from addiction. We must do everything we can to help them. Our government has signalled in the throne speech that it will do just that.
On another matter, we are all aware of the dangers that climate change poses to our country and the world. Our country is committed to pressing ahead with measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we are committed to doing so in a fashion that includes action to create green jobs and to build a sustainable economy that grows.
As the throne speech emphasized, we need to look to the future. We need to be world leaders in producing clean steel, aluminum, cars and planes. We can do this with our innovation and with a skilled workforce, and our government is committed to doing this the right way. We will leave no region behind. We will work with everyone: provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous communities, business and labour.
As we move forward, we cannot turn our back on what needs to be done to fight climate change. We must move toward putting a cap on oil and gas emissions. We must invest in public transit, and we must put a price on pollution. We are committed to doing this, and to doing it right. It will be part of our generation's legacy to fight climate change and green our economy.
All Canadians are standing in support of British Columbians and our dear neighbours to the south in the wake of weather disasters they have experienced recently, including fires, flooding and mudslides. Our government will strengthen action to prepare for floods, wildfires, droughts, coastal erosion and other extreme weather events that are the result of climate change.
I would also like to highlight how the throne speech has focused on an important issue of affordability. Many Canadians are concerned about how they are going to pay their bills. During the pandemic, our government made sure Canadians and businesses were not left behind. As we transition out of the pandemic, we are moving to more targeted benefits, but we are still supporting those people working in industries that are still struggling. All the while, we are fully aware of the challenge that inflation poses for families. That is why we are moving to make life more affordable for Canadians.
We are doing this by making it more affordable for Canadians to own homes. The housing accelerator fund will help cities build homes faster, and the first-time home buyer incentive will help families, as will a new rent-to-own program.
We are also moving in another area to significantly reduce costs for families, and that is child care. For many years parents have struggled with rising child care costs. Our government introduced the Canada child benefit, which helped pull hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
Now we are moving to work with provinces and territories to create a Canada-wide early learning and child care system. By the end of next year, average child care fees will be cut in half in most of the participating provinces and territories.
We will continue to work toward reaching agreements with the two provinces that have not yet signed on. The goal of $10-a-day quality child care for families is within reach.
As we move forward in this Parliament, all of us here have a duty to face a truth. That truth is that there is much more we need to do as a country on the path of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. The shock we all felt earlier this year when we learned about hundreds of graves of children at residential schools cannot be forgotten.
The throne speech commits our government to move faster on the path of reconciliation. We will continue to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. We will create a national monument to honour survivors. We will appoint a special interlocutor to advance justice on residential schools, and we will invest in communities with help for a distinctions-based mental health strategy guided by indigenous peoples, survivors and their families.
The throne speech notes that, while we address these major challenges of COVID-19, climate change, the economy and more, we cannot forget that gun violence is on the rise in many of our major cities. Our government will continue to invest in prevention and in supporting our law enforcement agencies.
As we take these steps, we will take action to prevent the unacceptable rise in violence against women and girls. Our government will move forward with a 10-year national action plan on gender-based violence.
As the throne speech makes clear, we will fight all forms systemic racism, sexism and discrimination. Our government will invest in the empowerment of Black and racialized communities. We will fight harmful online content, and we will stand up to support 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities. We will accomplish what was left behind from the last Parliament. We will ban the disturbing practice of conversion therapy.
We will always stand up for diversity. I am proud to see that the throne speech emphasized the fact that our two official languages are part of who we are as Canadians. Our government's commitment to supporting official language minority communities, including those in my territory, Yukon, is clear. We promise to protect and promote French within and outside Quebec, and we will act on that promise by reintroducing a bill to strengthen the Official Languages Act.
It is also important to know our government has signalled in the throne speech its strong support for the cultural sector. In that regard, we will reintroduce legislation to reform the Broadcasting Act so web giants pay their fair share for the creation and promotion of Canadian content.
On the world stage, Canada has always been a proud player. We stand up for our values, and we are respected for that. This will continue under our government.
The throne speech commits Canada to standing up to the pressing challenges of our time. Amidst the rise of authoritarianism, we will reinforce peace and security, the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.
At the same time, we will work to preserve and expand open, rules-based trade with strong and resilient supply chains. There is cause for hope and there is cause to be optimistic for our country. We are a nation that has accomplished, and can accomplish, great things. The throne speech has provided us with a road map for how to get it done.
Therefore I move, seconded by the hon. member for Pontiac, that the following address be presented to Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada:
To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
May it please Your Excellency:
We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.