Mr. Speaker, I rise today because 33 years ago on this day a horrific act of violence changed our country forever. On December 6, 1989, 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique de Montréal when a gunman walked in, separated the women from the men and opened fire.
They were murdered simply because they were women.
As a member of this place, as a member of cabinet, as a mother, as a sister and as a daughter, I stand here to say that the Government of Canada will not tolerate gender-based violence anywhere in any way in this country.
Today, on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne‑Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne‑Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St‑Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik‑Widajewicz.
We also honour everyone who has been killed as a result of gender-based violence. Last year, 173 women and girls in Canada lost their lives in this way. This amounts to one woman or girl every two days.
We stand in solidarity today and every day with victims and survivors of gender-based violence and their families. We bring attention to those most at risk: women and girls; indigenous women and girls; members of the 2SLGBTQI+ communities; women and gender-diverse people with disabilities; and women living in northern, rural and remote communities. We honour and remember the women taken from us: Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe. We will not forget them.
Gender-based violence has long-term effects on individuals, families and communities. It can happen at work, in families and between acquaintances.
It is a form of abuse that costs lives, and it must not be tolerated in Canada. These acts are part of a continuum of hate that needs to be disrupted, and each one of us has the power to help break that cycle.
As my hon. colleagues know, we are currently commemorating the annual 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Our theme is “It's Not Just”, a double meaning that reminds us of both the injustice of gender-based violence and how society perpetuates it by excusing less violent and less obvious forms.
I want to take a minute to talk about the lives impacted by these heinous acts.
In 2021, 90 homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner. Three-quarters, or 76%, of these victims were women and girls. The number of victims of intimate-partner homicide in 2021 was higher than in 2020, with 84 victims, and in 2019, there were 77 victims. This means mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends. Women and girls from all walks of life were killed at the hands of their intimate partners.
Think of the children left behind when a mother is killed by her partner. Think of the mother left to carry on when her child is killed by their partner. Think of the communities left with a hole that cannot be filled when they lose an integral member. At a time when the gun lobby is using the memory of this horrendous anniversary to promote its own agenda, we must stand firm and defend the memories and legacies of those gone too soon.
There is so much to be done, and we must all be part of the solution. In the past seven years, we have shown leadership in the efforts to end gender-based violence. I would like now to speak a bit about the progress we have made so far.
Since 2015, the Government of Canada has taken a wide-ranging approach to combat gender-based violence, including but not limited to introducing the first-ever federal strategy to address gender-based violence, dedicating 25% of the national housing strategy to support women, banning assault-style weapon and putting a freeze on the sale and transfer of handguns within Canada, listing coercive control as a form of family violence in the Divorce Act, dedicating up to $30 million over five years for crisis hotlines, and working with provinces and territories to deliver a national action plan to end gender-based violence and support survivors.
On November 9, the forum of federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for the status of women endorsed the national action plan to end gender-based violence. Over the next 10 years, the national action plan will enable federal, provincial and territorial governments to continue working with victims and survivors, indigenous partners, direct service providers, experts, advocates, municipalities, the private sector and researchers to prevent and address gender-based violence in Canada. This work is historic, and we look forward to moving ahead with our provincial and territorial colleagues to put the plan into action.
We continue this important work in the memory of every person killed as a result of gender-based violence. We must not relent or feel defeated by the enormity of this issue. We must keep moving forward in our efforts to make Canada safer for everyone.
I want to close by addressing those who are hearing this message and who are currently experiencing gender-based violence. I urge them to talk to someone they trust and ask for help. I want to tell them that they are not alone.