Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Mississauga—Malton.
It is a true honour and pleasure for me to rise for my first time in this 44th Parliament to respond to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of the residents of my downtown Toronto riding of Davenport. It is the honour and privilege of my life to be serving Davenport for a third time, and I want to thank the voters in my riding for putting their trust in me once again.
Before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg people.
I was very moved when I heard our Governor General read the Speech from the Throne. It is a speech that reflects the unprecedented times we have lived through over the last almost two years. It outlines the challenges and opportunities of the current moment, and it articulates a great hope for our future.
Our federal government has laid out our priority areas: building a healthier society, growing a more resilient economy, taking bolder action on climate change, creating safer and more inclusive communities, moving faster on a path of reconciliation and fighting for a secure, just and equitable world. I will speak to each of these key areas, focusing on the priorities for Davenport residents.
Coming off of an election just over a couple of months ago, the concerns of the residents in my riding are still fresh in my mind. Members may not know this, but 43% of Davenport residents are first generation Canadians. They were born in another country. Davenport residents understand how lucky we all are to live in Canada, which offers free access to safe and effective vaccines that fight COVID-19, including boosters. Indeed, more than 86% of eligible Canadians over 12 are fully vaccinated, and I cannot tell members how many Davenport parents are so relieved that vaccines are now available for children ages five to 11. They support the standardized Canadian proof of vaccination for domestic and international travel. They also support the mandate of vaccinations for federal and federally regulated workers, as well as the mandatory vaccines for everyone travelling within Canada by plane, train and ship.
We of course are all worried about the latest variant, omicron. I am glad our government has taken a number of immediate steps to try to slow down the spread of this variant. These steps are needed until we can find more information about it and better tailor our actions. We do not know yet how fast it is spreading, but we do know that vaccines will make a big difference.
While our number one priority is to finish this fight against COVID-19, the Speech from the Throne also highlights our government's commitment to improving our health care system overall. For Davenport residents, this includes more focus and a lot more resources for mental health and addictions treatment, clearing the backlog of delayed procedures and testing, and much more funding and oversight for long-term care homes. We will and must deliver on all this vital and important work.
We cannot talk about spending on health care and/or the many programs and priorities we have without mentioning the need for a strong economy, one that works for all Canadians. There are a lot of positive signs in the Canadian economy as we try to move our way into the post-COVID world. Today, we heard from Statistics Canada that the third-quarter GDP growth in Canada was 5.4%, which is great. We also know that we recouped over one million jobs since the pandemic started, and that both small businesses and large corporations, who were able to pivot from the strong foundation our emergency supports provided, are working hard to adjust and adapt to a new global economic reality and to be competitive.
There are two key things that are important to Davenport as it relates to a resilient economy. One is for Ontario to join the national child care plan. We need parents to be able to get back to work and contribute their best selves. This cannot happen if child care is unaffordable and if they are worried about who will take care of their children. We know that affordable, accessible, quality child care increases women's participation in the workforce and improves Canada's overall economic growth and performance.
The other is ensuring that we tackle the current housing affordability crisis. This is also critical to the future economic success of our nation. The Speech from the Throne highlights our federal government's strong commitment to housing, including increasing affordable housing, ending chronic homelessness and giving Canadians hope that they can afford to live in our big cities and one day will be able to afford to buy an apartment, condo or home.
No matter what else happens, Davenport residents are steadfastly and unequivocally committed to faster and bolder action on climate change. I would say this is the number one issue raised at the doors during the last election. Urgent, aggressive climate action is at the very top of the list of priorities for Davenport. In Toronto, we worry as we see the devastating impacts of climate change on the west and east coasts of our country. Climate change is happening faster than was predicted, and we are scared for our lives, for our future and for our kids' and our grandchildren's futures.
Our federal government has committed $100 billion to implement a comprehensive and aggressive climate action plan, which includes over 100 measures. In six years, we have moved aggressively, but we have to go even faster, and we have to move even more aggressively. It will take the best efforts and hard work of every level of government, the private sector and of every Canadian to move to a low-carbon future and economy. There are tough times ahead, but as an eternal optimist and a believer that we can incentivize, educate and inspire each part of Canadian society to step up and do their part, I believe that we will emerge from this generational challenge a stronger and even more prosperous nation.
Davenport residents are proud of Canada's aggressive climate action plan, but there are key areas where they would like to see even more action. One is eliminating fossil fuel subsidies faster, and another is moving as fast as we can on creating a just transition act for workers, making sure that no worker region is left behind in this process. We must help high-emitting sectors transition if we want our climate plan to be successful and if we truly want to achieve our net-zero target.
Safer communities and a more diverse and equitable society are also important for Davenport residents. In terms of safer communities, three priorities are top of the list for Davenport. Luckily, all of them are highlighted and listed in our Speech from the Throne.
The first is to tackle gun violence. This means everything from addressing the root causes of gun violence to banning handguns, to ensuring our border security has the resources it needs to keep guns from entering our country.
Tackling violence against women is the second urgent priority. In the Speech from the Throne, our federal government has committed to a 10-year national action plan on gender-based violence and to continue to support organizations providing critical services. We have allocated $600 million over five years to achieve this plan and, since 2015, committed over a billion dollars to support violence prevention, create shelters for women and families, support crisis hotlines and many other steps.
The third priority is the need to continue our battle to fight hate, racism and discrimination. Davenport is home to so many different cultures and religions. We have a vibrant Muslim community, a growing Jewish community, a Caribbean community that has been in Davenport for over 40 years, and multiple Asian communities. We are so blessed. Diversity is indeed our strength, and it is one of the many reasons why Davenport is such a special riding. The commitment to continue combatting hate and racism with a renewed anti-racism strategy is an important one, and it is also included in our throne speech.
A final note is the importance of championing the LGBTQ2S+ community. I am proud that yesterday, our Minister of Justice reintroduced Bill C-4, a strengthened bill to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy. Everyone in Canada should feel safe and be valued equally, no matter their background, race or religion.
As my time winds down, I want to speak about the importance of reconciliation to Davenport. My constituents ask me about our government's work, and they press me to make sure we are doing everything we can and moving as fast as we must. They want us to move fast to implement all 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They want us to move fast on implementing the recommendations of the calls for justice for missing and murdered indigenous women. They want us to eliminate every last long-term drinking water advisory in indigenous communities, and they want indigenous peoples to have control over their child and welfare services.
I will end by speaking on the final section of our throne speech, which is about the role that our country plays on the world stage. As our Speech from the Throne says, “In the face of rising authoritarianism and great power competition, Canada must reinforce international peace and security, the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights.” Our success as a nation and our future prosperity depend on open borders, unfettered supply chains, deep partnerships and engaging in the world in a way that promotes peace, equity and prosperity for all.
Canadians returned us to the House of Commons with a clear message to all Parliamentarians to work together. This Speech from the Throne presents an excellent plan and a way forward to a more equitable, compassionate and prosperous Canada.