Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that I am speaking today from the unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I will begin by thanking the people of Oakville North—Burlington for the confidence they have placed in me by electing me for the third time to this place. Our riding was created in 2015, and it has been my greatest honour to be its first and only member of Parliament.
I also want to thank my incredible team of volunteers and donors, without whom I would not be here, and my staff, who I would argue, are the best on the Hill. I thank them very much.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my family, who have been beside me every step of the way. My son, Fraser, knocked on doors when he was nine years old when we were trying to save a local pool from being closed, and now in this past election, more than 20 years later, he brought his son, my grandson, Cameron, out to campaign with his nanny.
I was motivated to enter politics to make my community better. I continue to be motivated by the desire to leave the world better than I found it. Our government's throne speech lays out a number of priorities that will do just that.
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. As a climate leader, Canada has put in place measures to reduce pollution and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. To create a more resilient economy, create jobs and grow the middle class, Canada must take strong and bold climate action. That is why we are moving forward to cap and cut oil and gas sector emissions, invest in public transit and mandate the sale of zero-emission vehicles.
The federal government has already worked in partnership with Oakville Transit and Burlington Transit to deliver over $60 million in federal funding over the past five years to modernize and electrify our public transit fleets. It has also worked with the Ford Motor Company of Canada by investing $295 million to make its Oakville plant the hub for electric vehicle manufacturing in Canada.
Since elected, I have advocated for a strategy to get more people active, encouraging them to use their feet and their bikes to get around. I am thrilled that our first-ever active transportation strategy was announced this summer, with $400 million in funding over five years. I look forward to working with Oakville and Burlington to help them access this funding to better connect our communities and expand our already beautiful trails system.
Together, we need to go further and move faster on climate action, not just to protect our environment, but to grow our economy in a way that leaves no worker behind.
Building a better future starts with getting the pandemic under control and finishing the job on vaccines. It is because of the efforts of all Canadians that more than 86% of us over 12 years old are fully vaccinated, and children between the age of five and 11, like Roisin and Tiernan O'Meara, are getting the vaccine.
Halton Region has done outstanding work distributing vaccines in our community. The leadership of our medical officer of health, Dr. Meghani, has been exceptional, and I want to thank her and her colleagues for their work to keep our community safe.
To build a healthy future, however, we must do more than get needles in arms. We must strengthen our health care system and public health support for all Canadians, especially for seniors, veterans, persons living with disabilities, vulnerable members of our communities and those who have faced discrimination by the very system that is meant to heal. There is much work to be done on mental health and addictions treatment, on improving long-term care and accessibility, and integrated data collection to inform future decisions and get the best public health results possible.
Over the last year and a half, I have heard from businesses and individuals who have told me that they do not know how they would have survived without supports from our government. I have heard repeatedly about the labour shortage in Canada. Each of us in this place can be leaders in our communities by talking to business and our chambers of commerce about the untapped potential of people living with disabilities. Twenty-five percent of Canadians are living with a disability, and about 70% of those are unemployed or underemployed. What an opportunity for employers to bring on someone in a wheelchair to their law firm or an individual with an intellectual disability to their assembly line or child care centre.
We are moving forward on safe, affordable, inclusive child care for all, with nine provinces and territories already signed on. When my son was born, I had four months maternity leave, which was the law at the time. When it came time to return to work, the cost of infant care was more than we could afford. I almost did not return, but thanks to an incredible boss who doubled my salary, gave me an extra month at home and promised that I could take whatever time I needed for my son, I did return.
My life would be very different if it were not for Ken Field, and I know my experience was the exception not the rule. Women should never have to decide between having a child and their career. Our plan for $10-a-day child care, which we still need Ontario to sign on to, will not only be good for children and families, but will grow the economy by billions of dollars when women are able to fully participate.
Canadians were horrified by the discovery of unmarked graves and burial sites located near former residential schools. As a country and a government, we must continue to tell the truths of these tragedies so we can right past wrongs and move forward in the spirit of reconciliation for everyone.
I have heard about home ownership for young people repeatedly, and that is why we are going to be putting home ownership within reach for first-time homebuyers with a first-time homebuyer incentive, a new rent-to-own program, and by reducing closing costs.
Indigenous women are the fastest-growing prison population in Canada, and have been for some time. Most of these women are in prison because of poverty, trauma, mental illness, addiction or gender-based violence. Recently I visited Grand Valley Institution for Women and spoke to some of the women there. Sadly, because so many indigenous women are entering the criminal justice system, we have run out of room for them at institutions near their communities, and they have been transferred out of their home communities. Sixty-five indigenous women are now held at Grand Valley, while a few years ago it was just 13.
We must implement changes to mandatory minimum sentences and other reforms to the criminal justice system, including restorative justice, to stem the tide that is disproportionately sentencing indigenous women to federal prison. It has been said that when they sentence a woman to prison, they also sentence the child. While the mother-child initiative at Grand Valley is outstanding, too many of the children of these moms are in foster care. We must do better.
During the election campaign, I was once again targeted by the gun lobby. I have been a vocal advocate for enhancing public safety through gun control, from extended background checks in Bill C-71 to banning military-style assault rifles. Over 80% of Canadians support these measures, but the Conservative Party and Canada's gun lobby do not. From depicting me in demeaning and misogynistic cartoons, to distributing flyers door to door in my riding, the gun lobby and the Conservative Party are becoming more and more intertwined and more and more out of touch with the concerns of Canadians. I know my constituents overwhelmingly support our efforts on gun control, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with our government on the issue.
I heard repeatedly at the doors that Canadians want us to work together in Parliament. They appreciated the early pandemic response when we all worked together. It is my sincerest hope that we can set aside partisanship when we are in this place, as we did yesterday in passing Bill C-4 to end conversion therapy. When we disagree, which we will, let us disagree agreeably. Canadians expect no less.