Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
I appreciate the debate we are having tonight to highlight this pandemic within a pandemic and to highlight the seven Quebec women whose lives were taken in the past few months and, of course, the 160 women whose lives were taken this past year.
Across Canada, front-line women's agencies and police report increases of intimate partner violence at 30% to 70%. We cannot continue to stand by as women's lives are ended, and their deaths cannot go without action. Often those women who are killed have suffered many violence acts prior, and a woman who is trapped without resources, financial or otherwise, to flee has too often been a victim of many different types of abuse, not only from her partner but from a broken system and those in power unwilling to do what is truly necessary to change it.
The New Democrats have and will continue to push to change that system and to act. That is why I am so proud to support the private member's bill from my colleague, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, Bill C-247, which would make coercive and controlling behaviour a criminal offence.
We know that intimate partner violence has been and continues to plague our society and that the pandemic has made this problem even more acute, as the numbers from Quebec show. Patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour are also forms of violence, but these patterns are often a precursor to overt physical violence. This behaviour being seen as a criminal offence would allow earlier intervention by police, courts and service organizations without having to wait for that actual violent incident to take place.
We know that our families, communities and country are stronger when women thrive. In Canada today, it is still all too common for women to experience discrimination and gender-based violence, particularly if they are members of marginalized communities.
In Canada, there are only a patchwork of plans, programs and supports. There is no comprehensive system in place. Shelters across Canada have been asked to do more with less year after year. Some shelters in Canada have reported not receiving funding increases in nearly a decade, but they took action. They made up the difference through their own fundraising efforts. They showed the leadership that women, children and non-binary people in their neighbourhoods needed.
On the front lines, time, resources and money are limited, but incredible community leaders and volunteers take on that fight daily, and I am so grateful for them. During the pandemic, numerous women's organizations emphasized the need for core operational-based funding. It is necessary for any organization to be able to shift during an emergency to provide the community-based programming they know is needed.
During the Harper government, a great deal of that funding to institutions was cut and any funding provided was made available only under specific project-based funding. Under subsequent Liberal governments, some funding has been returned, but not to the levels required and still through that same project-based funding model.
Women's organizations must have long-term, stable, core funding so women can access the supports and advocacy they need when they need it.
For five years, the government has touted a national action plan to end gender-based violence. Whether in committee or in the House, since being elected, I have taken every opportunity to ask the government when a plan will be formalized and brought forward. Sadly, women are still waiting.
We also need action and the implementation of the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We must implement all 231 calls for justice. This cannot be another inquiry that sits on a shelf and collects dust. Women do not need another report only to refer to when a government has been caught ignoring the problems women face, a report like the 2015 Deschamps report on sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Deschamps report has 10 recommendations, yet only two have been implemented in six years.
Gender-based violence impacts all women of all different ages, racial backgrounds and cultural groups. Everyone is at risk and everyone is a potential victim. Those at high risk, something we have heard repeatedly during this pandemic, are people who are already vulnerable. Women living in poverty, women with a disability, immigrant women, and indigenous women and children are disproportionately affected by this form of abuse and violence.
I must conclude with this. The problem is clear and the solutions can be clearer. These disturbing numbers of the murders of women from Quebec and across Canada underline the necessity of ensuring that the House and the government take action that is both effective and urgent. That is what I will continue to fight for. That is what New Democrats will continue to fight for.