Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this motion. Before I commence, I will just mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Macleod.
As we have heard in earlier interventions today, a lot of Canadians are concerned. They are supportive of the initiatives that need to take place in the north to enhance food security solutions, and not just under the nutrition north program but through an entire suite of programs that our government is delivering.
I can think of constituents in Canada, like Logan Ashley, who would be very interested in learning about the initiatives that our federal government is undertaking.
I am a northerner, and I have seen our government's investments in the north and in the Canadian arctic. I have travelled with the Prime Minister and the respective ministers, and not, as the opposition would coin it, for fancy photo ops but rather for on-the-ground, community-based, real solutions that have been generated by the community. The communities are very much interested in showing these solutions to the ministers, the Prime Minister and those members of Parliament from our side who take the time to go there and meet with mayors and councillors, chiefs and councils, and community members. We listen to what their needs are, and then observe the beginning, in progress and end of initiatives that they have undertaken with federal government resources and federal government investments.
Let me highlight a couple of those. The Growing Forward 2 program and the northern greenhouse initiatives were announced by the Prime Minister last year when I was with him in Hay River. I was joined by the Minister of the Environment, who is also the north regional minister. We were looking at the great work that communities are undertaking with the Growing Forward 2 program to provide real community-based solutions. It is not just about food security solutions. It is about skills development and employment opportunities, making sure that nutritious and affordable food is available. It is about a broad range of skill sets that are undertaken to deliver quality food and multi-year crops in a challenging northern environment.
This is a Canadian success story. This is about Canadians in the north and in the high arctic finding ways to deliver fresh and available foods right there in their own communities.
We are providing the funding for them to do that. We are supporting the technology and innovation for them to be able to do that. At the same time, we are supporting that skill set and that natural connectability to working opportunities and career opportunities. At the same time, we are helping those communities define and meet their food security needs.
In my home, in the community of Old Crow, just a couple of weeks ago, I was proud to be there to open the Co-op store. It was a first nation development corp. community-invested grocery store. It is going to provide co-operative investment for that community. When people shop there, there is going to be a direct dividend return to that community. That store is also going to provide employment and training opportunities for people living in that community. That store is providing access to more affordable foods and more nutritious foods.
What I saw was a store full of fresh fruits and vegetables, a store that had products in it that were far cheaper than in the past. I saw a program and service delivery that our government is investing in that is working. The community was there to celebrate. They see the real results of programs that are working, not one in a vacuum, like the nutrition north program, but a whole suite of programs, like the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, which was created by our government to improve and enhance the working and economic development opportunities for people of the north. Those included food security solutions, like this one, that the development corp. has put forward in Old Crow.
They have been strong advocates of investing in their own community solutions, and we have done that with and for them. We have been strong and proud participants, and supporters of that program.
We hear somewhat of an incoherent thought from the opposition. On the one hand, they stand in this House today and criticize the nutrition north program, but then urge the government to add 50 more communities to it. I am not sure that is a coherent argument, chastising a program while asking that more Canadian communities be added to it. It is a bizarre track of thinking.
Let me talk about a couple of the communities that the opposition has put down on a napkin. One of the communities added is already a full beneficiary of the nutrition north program.
Governing is a responsibility that we take seriously, and it is not something that one can do by just drafting a list of communities, putting that on the back of a napkin, dropping it in Parliament and then asking Parliament to simply add those communities without thought. It is irresponsible.
When we look at some of the communities they have put in place, some already on this list, some of those communities in the design of this program have road accessibility so it is already far more affordable for them to truck supplies into those communities than some of the communities we are talking about in the Canadian high Arctic. Those are the ones that rely on shipping crates and containers to come in, those that rely on seasonal accessibility to their communities, such as the one in the Yukon that is a fly-in only community.
We have members from the opposition, from Toronto, standing up to speak about these things. We appreciate their support and their concern and their attention to the north, but they clearly do not understand the realities of these communities because they have not been there. However, they are willing to stand in this House and chastise our government for having been there. I have been there. I have been there with the Prime Minister and with several respective ministers.
Every single year, the Prime Minister of this country has been across the north. Ten times he has visited since 2006. That is more than any other prime minister in the history of this country. There is more attention and more investment for the people of the north than by any other prime minister before. This is a prime minister who works in and with the communities and who dispatches his ministers on a regular basis to go to the north. He dispatches his members of Parliament to go to the north and work with the members of those communities. There are two members on this side of the House who live in northern Arctic communities and can speak about the very real challenges, and we are seized with those.
We understood the Auditor General's comments. The minister embraced those quickly and, in fact, almost by the date of the tabling of that report had already actioned many of the recommendations and had already moved to significantly improve the recommendations that were made. We have not stopped there because we understand fundamentally that nutrition north is one part of a suite of programs that our government has deployed since 2006 to improve the working and living conditions of aboriginal people. Those include things like our family tax cut so that we are able to leave more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians. That is more money in the pockets of moms and dads so that they can spend their money on the needs that they define are important for them. The opposition wants to take that away. The opposition votes against that.
Here is another real example. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was joined in my territory by the Minister of Health. We announced $13 million for chronic health management in our territory. As we all know, across the north certain rates of diseases like diabetes are higher than the national average, in some cases four times higher. That boils down to the need to invest in chronic disease management, nutrition, and dietary supports and programs. It boils down to the suite of programs that we are delivering to ensure we can effectively manage chronic disease, which is a challenge in the north. I personally spent time one summer running from the northern part of the Yukon to the southern part of the Yukon to raise awareness and funds for diabetes, and to ensure that people were aware that our government was prepared to continue to invest in that.
We are doing these things step in and step out: policy investments, legislative adaptations, direct or indirect contributions and services from our government, and into the territorial governments for them to outlay their local priorities under their local governance structures. Everything we have done in this massive suite of programs, the opposition stands up and votes against.
It is disingenuous for the opposition members to stand in this House and say the government should do things, and then every time we table bills, policies or investments, they vote against it. I say this. The opposition should get on board and start supporting what we are doing in real terms for the great people of the north.