Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that the NDP supports this motion, as we have always supported the idea of working harder for our fellow citizens across the country. This is a tradition for the NDP. People often say that we are like worker bees in the House, and that is true. We are prepared to work until midnight. We are prepared to do this because we think it is important.
In recent months, we have seen the results of initiatives introduced in Parliament by our leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South, and by our caucus: dental benefits, benefits for renters across the country and the doubling of the GST credit to put hundreds of dollars more into Canadians' pockets. These are all initiatives that the NDP, in a Parliament where no party has the majority, has been able to introduce to help Canadians. Up to 12 million Canadians benefit from the NDP's initiatives.
Of course, we want to work even harder to make sure that families having a hard time right now can benefit. There is no other way to say it: People are having a hard time. They are having a hard time putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head. Canadian families are having a really hard time with all these challenges they are currently facing. In our opinion, the solution is clear and simple: We need to work harder to help people more during these difficult times.
That is why we are supporting this motion. We believe that at a time when so many Canadians, such as seniors, people with disabilities, students and families, are struggling to put food on the table and struggling to keep a roof over their heads, we have a responsibility as parliamentarians to step up and work harder than ever before. The reality is that Canadians need supports from the federal government and need supports from federal Parliament. We need to make sure that we get those supports to people.
The NDP and the member for Burnaby South have already proven our worth in this minority Parliament by the things we have fought for and obtained, such as dental care, supports for renters and ensuring that the GST credit is doubled so people can get immediate support, with hundreds of dollars in many cases. Up to 12 million Canadians get those supports because the NDP has fought for them.
In a minority Parliament, it is the responsibility of all members to fight hard and make sure that Canadians are benefiting from supports at this difficult time. However, sometimes the only way to do that and ensure that people are able to speak on behalf of their constituents is to work longer hours. That is something we have always supported in the House. The NDP has always believed that we have a responsibility to work harder and longer on behalf of our constituents, particularly in troubling and difficult times. It is important for parliamentarians to step up.
Our bosses are our constituents in our ridings across the country. I have great bosses in New Westminster—Burnaby, bosses who are struggling to make ends meet. We have this responsibility to our bosses to work harder than ever before at times like these that are troubled, when people are looking for supports and when people need those supports.
For us, it is not a question. There is no doubt at all that we have to step up and have extended hours. Some members of Parliament have raised questions about committees, and we certainly believe that is an important consideration. It is an important consideration for the government and all parties in the House of Commons.
I think my colleagues will be particularly interested in the statistics I am going to give after the shift to the COVID committee of the House of Commons. I will give those shortly before 2 p.m. I am sure my colleagues on both sides of the House will be interested in hearing those figures in a couple of minutes' time.
The reality is that the responsibility to work hard on behalf of our constituents is something we take seriously. That is why we in the NDP caucus and the member for Burnaby South have pushed for all these improvements, to make sure people are taken care of at this difficult time. Those things I mentioned earlier, such as dental care, rental supplements and supports, and the doubling of the GST credit for 12 million Canadians, are all important initiatives, but there is so much left to do. That is why having these extended hours gives us the opportunity to speak to and on behalf of our constituents with respect to this important legislation and at the same time get things out the door and to the finish line. We have the opportunity to speak on this legislation. We then take a vote and Parliament makes a decision about where that legislation goes, whether it stops or whether it moves forward to committee or the Senate, which is that careful balance that is so important.
The issue of the interpreters and how that has had an impact at committee is something we all need to work on. It is not an issue of whether or not we are having evening sessions, but whether we are providing the supports and the resources to have the number of interpreters necessary to ensure we can continue with committee work at the same time as we continue with the important work in the House of Commons and move things along. Canadians expect no less.
I mentioned earlier the issue of attendance at sittings. I think it is important to note this. I am going to quote from a news article in The Globe and Mail by Marieke Walsh, published on June 23, 2020. As the House knows, there was a key decision point a couple of years ago around having a continuing Parliament and committee hearings. This article referenced the following:
The Conservatives have the worst attendance record of all five political parties at the House of Commons COVID-19 committee meetings.
Of the 21 special sessions in which all MPs could participate, records show the Tories averaged a 47-percent attendance rate, placing them well behind the other parties.
The article went on to say that the low turnout was “prompting charges of hypocrisy from the NDP, whom the Conservatives criticized for agreeing...to [have those] sittings”.
Before the Speaker shuts down the first half of my speech, the following figures are important. The Conservatives had a 47% attendance rate. The Bloc was better, at 73%. The Liberals were at 76%. The highest attendance among the recognized parties was the NDP, no doubt the worker bees, at 85% attendance.
That is important to note. We do not just talk the game; we do not just talk about extending sessions; we do not just talk about working until midnight. We actually get the work done. Therefore, when Canadians elect NDP MPs, they are going to work harder and longer than MPs from other parties. We believe that our responsibility in the House of Commons is to show up, to speak out on behalf of our constituents and to get things done. I will have more opportunity in the second half of my speech to speak more to those issues and the history of all the recognized parties in the House of Commons.
My final point is this. At times when Canadians are struggling so much to make ends meet, all members of Parliament have a responsibility to get together to work harder, to work longer and to work better on behalf of our constituents. I hope this motion will pass unanimously, because Canadians deserve no less than parliamentarians who are willing to work until midnight every night on their behalf.