Madam Speaker, I would like to also thank all the people, regardless of political stripe or affiliation, who volunteered, asked tough questions, worked so hard, contributed in numerous ways, and voted and participated in our country's democracy. I am proud to continue to serve as their member of Parliament.
I often say that, as much as the world needs more Canada, Canada needs more Waterloo. Last month I participated virtually in Waterloo Region's 20th National Housing Day celebration. The stories that were shared were tremendous. I agree that all Canadians deserve housing that is safe, affordable and enables them to raise healthy children and pursue opportunities to build better lives for themselves and their families, thereby benefiting our communities, our country and our economy.
As we have learned and experienced during the pandemic, home is a sanctuary, a place of safety and refuge. It should be, but that is not the case for everyone. COVID-19 has exposed the inequities that exist in our society. The global health pandemic has impacted the whole world, all Canadians and disproportionately certain segments of our population and sectors of our economy. We know that by staying at home and keeping physically distanced, we have helped flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Additionally, by getting vaccinated, we are further helping reduce the spread, even as new variants are discovered.
I want to appreciate those Canadians who have gotten vaccinated. I encourage those who have been waiting to raise their concerns with professionals and to do their part to protect their friends, their families and their neighbours. For me, getting vaccinated was personal. My father, who was my backbone, had a massive heart attack in October 2020. Our pharmacist, who has since passed away and whom we miss, and my father's family doctor told him to go to the hospital, and my mom got him there.
I will forever be grateful to the on-call emergency doctor who called in the heart specialist. They had to revive my dad, and the damage that has been done to his heart cannot be undone. Therefore, I will do whatever I need to keep my dad, my family and my loved ones safe. If I may, I wanted to share my heartfelt appreciation for the amazing and hard-working health professionals at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener for saving my dad.
Clearly, I digress. Let us get back to housing.
This is something that comes up very often, especially in the Waterloo area. Just this past November 22, Waterloo Region had its 20th National Housing Day celebration. I commend the numerous housing advocates and housing champions, and I congratulate the award recipients. So many of the people who attended the event, and even some angels who I believe were watching from above, have helped inform our government's housing plan.
Our government's national housing strategy, the first national housing strategy in Canada, is a 10-year, $72-plus-billion plan. It will give more Canadians a place to call home, while ensuring that Canadians across the country can access affordable housing that meets their needs. We also launched Reaching Home, Canada's homelessness strategy, which supports the goals of the national housing strategy. The Government of Canada's homelessness programming now represents a $3.1-billion investment over 10 years.
Reaching Home is a community-based program aimed at supporting local efforts to prevent and eliminate homelessness by streamlining access to housing and supports for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This outcomes-based approach not only keeps decision-making at the local level, but also gives communities greater flexibility to address their local priorities, including investing in homelessness prevention and programming designed to meet the needs of underserved or under-represented communities. These include women and children fleeing domestic violence, seniors, youth, indigenous people, people with disabilities, people experiencing mental health and substance-use issues, veterans, LGBTQ2 individuals, racialized and Black Canadians, and recent immigrants or refugees.
While homelessness is often more visible in larger urban centres, it is an issue for rural communities and communities like Waterloo Region. Our government has made it a priority to design programs and supports that meet the needs of smaller communities. As an example, the rapid housing initiative invested approximately $2.5 billion to help address the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by including the construction of modular housing, as well as the acquisition of land and the conversion of existing buildings to affordable housing.
The rapid housing initiative, through the national housing strategy, is investing in Waterloo Region, building units that will provide supports for some of the most vulnerable in our community. We know the pandemic has placed significant new funding pressures on homeless-serving sectors in Canada, which, like all sectors, have had to transform how their services are delivered in order to prevent outbreaks, especially among those who are at heightened risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or reduced opportunities to self-isolate.
That is why our government has invested an additional $400 million under Reaching Home, and to support the homeless-serving sector in its efforts to reduce the transmission and impacts of COVID-19, and to support communities to implement more permanent housing solutions.
As a government and as members of Parliament, we have been listening and engaging. That is why we knew we had to adapt our program in these extraordinary times. In addition to these investments, the program's directives were updated to provide increased flexibility to communities for investing federal funds to support their local responses to COVID-19. However, we did not stop there. As part of budget 2021, our government proposed a number of additional key investments to make sure no one in Canada is without a place to call home.
This includes an additional investment of $567 million under Reaching Home, because this program is making a positive difference and it works. We also provided $45 million for a pilot program aimed at reducing veteran homelessness, and allocated $480 million to address indigenous homelessness needs in urban, rural and northern areas. This includes investments of $157 million for distinctions-based priorities with first nations, Inuit and Métis partners, as well as with indigenous governments.
Addressing homelessness and housing issues means we need ongoing collaboration. We will continue to work with our provincial and territorial partners, and hopefully all members in this House, to get the job done. Unfortunately, in the province of Ontario, the provincial Conservative government has been silent on two key issues that would help with the rising cost of living: housing and child care.
I want to compare that with our government's priorities, and I will quote from the recent Speech from the Throne. It states:
[W]e must keep tackling the rising cost of living. To do that, the Government's plan includes two major priorities: housing and child care.
Whether it is building more units per year, increasing affordable housing, or ending chronic homelessness, the Government is committed to working with its partners to get real results.
The Speech from the Throne goes on to say the following:
The Government will continue working with the remaining two provinces to finalize agreements that will deliver $10-a-day child care for families who so badly need it. Investing in affordable child care—just like housing—is not just good for families. It helps grow the entire economy.
One of those two provinces is Ontario. All to say, the Conservatives talk a lot when they are in opposition, but when they are in government, their actions speak louder than their words. The Conservative cuts that have been made on the backs of Canadians have been exposed in this pandemic.
Our government, from day one, has remained focused on Canadians and the most vulnerable. When we lowered taxes on the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians, Conservatives voted against it. When we gave the tax-free Canada child benefit to families with children, who needed it the most, by asking the wealthiest families not to take it, Conservatives voted against it. Every time we have invested in the national housing strategy, Conservatives have voted against it. The Conservatives know very well that our government will not tax primary residences, yet again, in their opposition motion, they repeat this false narrative.
It has been such a challenging time for too many people, but the Conservatives add to the uncertainty. This pandemic has demonstrated some of the best of humankind and, clearly, some of the worst. Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, and our government will continue to work toward a long-term shared vision to do just that.