Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to address the House today for my first time as the member for Oakville.
I would like to congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment. I am going to confess when I wrote these notes I heard myself saying “Mr. Speaker”, so if at some time during them I make that mistake, I apologize in advance.
I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude and thanks to the people of Oakville for supporting me, for putting their trust and confidence in me, and for asking that I be their voice in this chamber. I intend to do my best to be their voice.
I would also like to express my thanks and gratitude to the amazing team of volunteers who worked tirelessly with me over the past year to ensure that the people of Oakville understood that the opportunity to bring real change to Canada lay in part in their hands.
Finally, to my family, my grandparents who have passed on, my parents who are listening carefully at home, my wife Joanna, and my children Rachel, Alex, and William, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for their support and encouragement not just in this endeavour, but in all aspects of my life. I am very pleased that my wife Joanna has joined me in Ottawa today.
Over the campaign period I knocked on thousands of doors in Oakville and had countless conversations with people from Oakville about the issues that were affecting them, their families, and their community. Without a doubt, the most frequent concern expressed was about our economy and the uncertainty of employment. This is particularly true for 20-something Canadians who have struggled to find quality permanent jobs. I have also watched friends and neighbours similarly caught in a constant cycle of employment, unemployment, under-employment, and so on. This should be simple. We need to get Canadians back to work in quality, durable jobs. We need a robust economy to create employment and wealth for everyone.
The Speech from the Throne speaks directly to these concerns. To grow the economy and create jobs, our government will deliver a tax cut for the middle class, provide the Canada child benefit to help those with young families who are struggling financially, and introduce significant new infrastructure investments in public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure. Our government will act to create new jobs for young Canadians and make post-secondary education more affordable for those from low and middle-income families.
A second area of concern raised by my constituents was access to health services. I am pleased to advise the House through you, Madam Speaker, that in a very few days at 6 a.m., Sunday, December 13 to be exact, Oakville will open a brand new state-of-the-art hospital. The new Oakville Hospital was a $2.7 billion public infrastructure project, the 13th largest public sector infrastructure project in Canada. It is very near and dear to my heart. In my previous work as president and CEO of Halton HealthCare, one of my responsibilities was to see this project through from inception to near the final stages of construction. I am proud to report that this remarkable project in Oakville is opening on time and on budget.
In preparation for its opening, the hospital recruited an additional 800 people to work and volunteer at the new facility to introduce an extensive array of new and expanded patient services. Today, under the leadership of the board of directors and new president and CEO, Denise Hardenne, an incredibly talented group of people are working hard to ensure that on opening day the community experiences a seamless transfer of care from the old hospital to this incredible new facility. I thank the leadership, staff, physicians, and volunteers of Halton Health Care for their hard work and diligence, and congratulate them on delivering a terrific new hospital for Oakville. I would also like to recognize the CEO, Tina Triano, and thank the Oakville Hospital Foundation and the 28,000 people who donated to meet a record fundraising goal for the community.
Hospitals are just one part of our health system. The Canada Health Act and our national commitment to help each other in times of health crisis are a large part of what define us as Canadians. We need federal health leadership back. We need a new health accord. We need national strategies to deal with the changing circumstances of people with mental illness, chronic diseases, and those who are aging. We need to reinvest in health research to ensure that investments are routed in evidence-based, clinically proven strategies.
The Speech from the Throne speaks explicitly to these issues, laying the framework to develop a new health accord in partnership with the provinces and territories. Our government will also take action to support the delivery of more and better home care services, improve access to necessary prescription medications, make high-quality mental health services more available, and advance collaboration across Canada in health innovation. Our government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our universal health care system remains sustainable and accessible for all Canadians today and for generations to come.
While I was knocking on doors in Oakville, I met many people who were employed at the Ford assembly plant. My riding of Oakville is home to Ford Canada's corporate offices; Ford's globally competitive assembly plant, which creates the Ford Edge, the Ford Flex, and the Lincoln MKX models; as well as the Unifor Local 707, one of the largest Unifor locals in Canada. Oakville is also home to auto parts manufacturers, as are many communities in the Great Lakes Basin.
The majority of automotive units produced in Oakville are exported, mostly to the United States, but 10% of production from Oakville is now shipped to China, and as we speak Ford Canada is introducing the Edge into European markets.
The success of the automotive industry in Canada is vital to our economy. From iron ore extraction and refining, to steel production, to tool and die businesses, stamping and moulding concerns, assembly plants, supply chain components, and so on, this industry creates thousands of high quality jobs and countless spinoff jobs. It stimulates manufacturing research and development, and provides support to local charities and community programs in cities and towns across Canada.
In recent years, Canada fell behind other countries at attracting foreign auto manufacturing investment in an increasingly competitive global environment. Action will be taken today to ensure that new capital investment, capital reinvestment, and research and development occur in Canada's automotive parts and assembly sectors to ensure a strong and robust automotive sector for decades to come.
Our government is committed to engaging auto manufacturers, workers, and stakeholders, including the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, on matters that have a direct impact on the future of our auto sector. Those discussions are under way as we speak. We are committed to mobilizing the experience and expertise of stakeholders and incorporating their input into decision-making.
The government also knows the Canadian auto industry needs qualified workers, improved infrastructure, and a positive climate for investment. These are areas in which our federal government can and will play a positive and meaningful role. As the member for Oakville, I am personally committed to working in the House to help ensure the long-term viability of the Canadian automotive sector.
I could share much more with the House and my fellow members about my wonderful community of Oakville and its accomplishments as it strives to be the most livable town in Canada. I could also share more of the comments and concerns that were raised by residents, such as environmental and climate change issues, a desire for a return to open and transparent government processes, and concerns about pensions, poverty, the elderly, and the remarkable responsiveness of this government's plans to address so many of those expressed concerns. However, I think I am short of time.
I salute our Prime Minister for his open and participatory leadership with a strong and capable cabinet.
Once again I thank the people of Oakville for the honour of representing them in the House. I also extend my congratulations to all members of the House on their election or re-election to Parliament. I am committed to working with members from all sides of the House to help the 42nd Parliament of Canada produce extraordinary results for all Canadians.