Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
This is my first time rising in the House. I would like to start by congratulating you on your election, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to thank you for what you said yesterday about respect and listening. That really resonated with me. You also stressed the importance of setting an example for the young people who are listening to us and of creating an atmosphere in the House where women can express themselves fully and completely.
I am honoured to have been elected by my community. I want to thank the people of Pontiac, a microcosm of the Canadian mosaic with its French-speaking and English-speaking rural communities, indigenous communities and a very multicultural urban element. I thank them all for their trust.
I would also like to thank my family and friends, who supported my first foray into politics.
Before I became an MP, I worked for the OECD, where we mainly sought to ensure that countries around the world agree to ensure that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes. I also worked in the public service, and I would like to take this opportunity to commend all of my colleagues who have been working very hard to provide outstanding service to Canadians, particularly during the pandemic.
It is even more important to talk about taxation today. Given that we are emerging from a pandemic and facing significant climate change, it is important that the wealthy, the large multinationals and all those who are successful share and act in such a way that we are able to overcome the pandemic and fight this significant climate change together.
Like many communities in Canada, the communities in Pontiac are tight-knit. They have been very resilient during the pandemic and I am sure that they will be able to deal with all of the other challenges. Being an MP is about more than just listening to and representing people. It is about acting as a liaison between Canadian politics and local initiatives.
Since 2015, the Liberal government has been working to protect the environment and grow the economy. It has also been supporting families and growing the middle class. We can be very proud of the work that has been accomplished.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Major challenges lie ahead. To overcome them, we need to work with our colleagues in the other parties, as well as with the provinces and territories. As we develop our policies, we must include indigenous communities every step of the way, not to mention the municipalities, which will be on the front lines of implementing our climate plans. We must work together to build a stronger, greener, fairer and more resilient Canada.
As Her Excellency the Governor General said in the Speech from the Throne, our priorities for this 44th Parliament are clear. We will work together to end the pandemic, while building a more resilient economy and a greener future, so that generations to come can enjoy what we have enjoyed.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic turned our country upside down. Canadians have gone through some very difficult times. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic.
I also want to thank the health care workers for their ongoing efforts to support our communities. Our government knows that the best tool for keeping this pandemic under control and putting an end to it is vaccination. We made sure to have enough doses for all Canadians to get them vaccinated quickly. What is more, we have reached another important step in the fight against COVID‑19, the approval of vaccines for children 5 to 11.
We have brought in measures to end this pandemic, including requiring proof of vaccination and making vaccination mandatory for federal employees and anyone travelling by plane, train, or boat. We will continue to move forward together and strengthen the health care system by working with the provinces and territories.
As we all know, one of the biggest challenges of our time is fighting climate change. Like my hon. colleague from Yukon, that is why I am here in the House. Since 2015, the government has put a price on pollution, one of the highest in the world. We set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. We have banned the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and invested more than $100 billion in climate action and the green recovery.
Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change and are very worried about what global warming will bring. Indeed, before the recent floods, British Columbians were battling forest fires this summer. We also endured our share of disasters in Pontiac, not to mention the whole issue of melting Arctic ice. Canada is responding to global warming by developing the first-ever national adaptation strategy.
In the throne speech, our government has committed to capping and cutting oil and gas sector emissions, while accelerating our path to net zero. We have committed to protecting our land and oceans, and to creating the Canada water agency to protect this vital resource.
Members of Parliament are in a position to galvanize people in support of local initiatives to implement Canada's climate plan, and my team and I did exactly that this week when we launched an initiative to build a green and prosperous Pontiac.
Our government knows that fighting climate change and economic growth go hand in hand. Canada is a world leader and will continue to be a world leader in the production of steel, aluminum and the batteries essential for the production of our electric vehicles. We will be a leader in tomorrow's economy. For the sake of future generations, we must do everything in our power to ensure that climate action is at the heart of every one of our policy decisions.
The pandemic has devastated the global economy. Our Liberal government was there to support businesses, organizations and Canadians so that we could face this unprecedented crisis together. Canada's job numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels.
Our government will move to targeted support while prudently managing spending. We are well aware that the cost of living is increasing around the world. As mentioned in the throne speech, to address this challenge, the government will build more housing through a new fund for municipalities. It will help families buy their first home and increase the stock of affordable housing. I will work hard to also ensure that the voice of rural communities is heard on this file.
In addition, the Canada child benefit helped lift thousands of children out of poverty. Our government will continue increasing this payment so it will keep up with the cost of living. We will continue building the first-ever Canada-wide early learning and child care system. Canadian families will finally have access to affordable $10-a-day child care. This will make it possible for women to return to the labour market and enjoy financial independence.
Quebec has seen far too many femicides since early 2021. Violence against women and girls has become more severe during this pandemic. The government is committed to moving forward with a 10-year national action plan on gender-based violence and will continue to support organizations that work hard to provide critical services to women and girls across the country.
It is not just women and girls we must keep safe, but all Canadians. There has been a serious rise in gun violence in our cities. We are determined to eliminate this problem by implementing such measures as criminal background checks, the mandatory buyback of assault-style weapons and support for the provinces and territories that want to ban handguns in their jurisdictions.
I am sure that Canadians want a country in their own image, where human rights are not only respected but also promoted and supported. Although Canada is a leader in that respect, we still have work to do.
Our government believes that battling systemic racism and discrimination must be a priority. We have heard Canadians stand up courageously against the injustice they witness day after day. Sadly, there is no denying that systemic racism exists in Canada. As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to talk about this situation and fight it. The government is committed to taking action. That is why we will keep working to advance the autonomy and prosperity of Black and racialized communities and indigenous peoples. Our government will also continue to reform the criminal justice system and policing to tackle the overrepresentation of racialized and indigenous individuals in Canadian prisons.
Our government will continue to combat harmful content online and will be a strong advocate for the LGBTQ2 community. Our government will complete its work on banning conversion therapy. These types of therapy are extremely harmful to the mental health and well-being of people. That is why we must ensure that such practices are illegal in Canada.
It is true that it is 2021, and attitudes and institutions have no doubt improved, but more than ever, we are talking about reconciliation and the importance of communicating and collaborating with indigenous peoples. As stated in the Speech from the Throne, reconciliation cannot come without truth.
Like many Canadians, I was deeply affected and frankly horrified by the discovery of the unmarked graves at former residential schools. The history of these young children and their families must not be forgotten. Together, we must continue to fight the injustices that indigenous peoples continue to suffer. One of the worst tragedies our country is facing is the murder and disappearance of indigenous women, girls and individuals in Canada.
Our government understands the importance of taking action and will accelerate work with its indigenous partners to address this national tragedy. As mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, reconciliation requires a whole-of-government approach to break down barriers and build a better world.
I am a proud Quebecker. French is the language I work in and the language I raised my children in. We know that we must ramp up our efforts to protect French in Quebec and in francophone communities outside Quebec, especially since we are in the minority in North America. I am reassured to see that our government has decided to reintroduce its bill for the substantive equality of French and English and the strengthening of the Official Languages Act.
It is essential to support official language minority communities and to promote French across the country. We can use arts and culture to protect and promote our official languages. As members know, the pandemic has been tough on these communities, on our artists. Our government will continue to support the cultural industry by introducing new legislation to reform the Broadcasting Act and ensure that web giants pay their fair share for the creation and promotion of Canadian content.
We live in a deeply interconnected world, and Canada must reinforce peace, international security, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and democracy. Canada will continue to prioritize increasing its foreign assistance budget each year and investing in sustainable development.
I want to conclude by emphasizing that Canadians elected us to work constructively and collaboratively on advancing their priorities. That is what I plan to do, and our government will as well. We are privileged to serve as members of Parliament. We must work as a team to serve Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Together, we will overcome this pandemic. We will transition to a green economy, we will fight climate change together, and we will tackle many more challenges together.