Mr. Speaker, congratulations to you on your election to the Chair. It is a big responsibility and a high honour.
I would like to make note that I will be sharing my time with the member for York South—Weston.
What an honour and a privilege it is for me to rise in the House, for the very first time, on behalf of the people of Scarborough—Rouge River. Above all today, I want to take this opportunity to thank my constituents for the confidence and trust that they have placed in me to represent and advocate on their behalf. I will fight for their priorities every day.
I also want to acknowledge the previous member for Scarborough—Rouge River, Mr. Derek Lee, for his 23 years of service to Scarborough—Rouge River. We do have different ideas about the country we want to build, but we share a love for community and a commitment to public service.
I would also like to congratulate all of my colleagues from Quebec and across Canada on their success in the election on May 2. I know that our team will do everything in its power to defend the public's interests in the face of this Conservative government's policies.
[Member spoke in Tamil]
For the few who may not have understood Tamil, I will translate.
Next, I am proud to say that as the very first member of Parliament in Canada from Tamil heritage, I am proud and humbled to have been able to speak in this respectable House in my mother tongue.
Many of us Tamils came to Canada fleeing persecution and a civil war. Canada embraced us with open arms, and we have been doing our utmost to contribute to the economic development and cultural fabric of this great country.
I know that the diaspora Tamil community in Scarborough—Rouge River, the greater Toronto area and around the world, will be proud to know that we have achieved this very important milestone to hear Tamil being spoken in the Canadian House of Commons. This is the next step in the development of the Tamil community in Canada. The barriers faced by children of Tamils and other immigrants shall be broken down and they will endeavour to reach higher roles of leadership in Canada.
We will be discussing the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance last Monday. This budget does not meet the expectations of Canadians. It offers no solutions to the problems my constituents in Scarborough—Rouge River are facing. I know that the measures in this budget will not meet the needs of the people in my riding.
This budget fails to make life more affordable for the many families still struggling to recover from the effects of the recession. When speaking with my constituents during the election campaign, they clearly articulated the priorities for Scarborough—Rouge River.
They want more investment in local infrastructure, especially a more affordable and reliable local transit network that would cut the daily commute from over two hours each way.
The residents want the creation of more jobs locally in the community so that we all do not need to travel to downtown Toronto for work. We all know it is the small and medium-sized businesses that actually create local jobs and contribute to the community's economic development.
My neighbours want to see more investment in education, training and development of youth. Youth in high schools and their parents are concerned about the fact that post-secondary education is beyond their reach because of the skyrocketing tuition fees and the systemic barriers that visible minorities and people from lower-income households face with respect to the accessibility of post-secondary education.
Some may say that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but I say that we, the youth, are the leaders of today.
Many young families are concerned about the fact that child care and elder care are neither accessible nor affordable.
Seniors are concerned that after paying into the system for much of their lives, they are now retiring into poverty.
The newer immigrants are concerned about access to settlement and integration services and the arduous process for having their foreign credentials recognized.
This budget does not address the reasonable and affordable proposals that the NDP made.
This budget does nothing to strengthen the CPP. It does nothing to provide relief for the family budget. It does nothing for the millions of Canadians without access to a family doctor. It fails to lift every senior out of poverty. It does nothing to reverse the $50 million cuts to immigrant settlement service agencies. It does nothing to create good, reliable jobs in local communities. It really does not have a strong vision for investment in post-secondary education.
Canadians from coast to coast to coast voted for change in this election and over 4.5 million Canadians voted for New Democrats, to make this a truly historic election.
I would like to once again thank the constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River for contributing to this history by electing me. They chose many firsts this time: the first New Democrat to represent the constituency; the first woman to represent them; the first person of colour; the first youth to advocate for them; and, of course, the very first female Tamil member of Parliament in the world outside of India and Sri Lanka.
I thank the residents of Scarborough—Rouge River again for giving me this privilege to serve them and to be a member in the House.