Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this important debate on the concurrence motion before the House today. I want to thank all the members of the special committee on all sides of the House who participated in this important study.
Our government takes this issue very seriously. I was pleased to be a part of the committee that heard from several expert witnesses, along with the families of the victims.
It is so important to speak to the first nations who have been affected and ask them how we can help. How can we work to break the cycle of violence? I am proud to speak about the special committee's report today and highlight the good work the committee has accomplished.
We have done Canadians a great service by bringing attention to this serious issue and shedding light on this complex problem. Our government is deeply committed to ensuring justice for all Canadians and to cracking down on crime.
The research is clear. Aboriginal women experience high rates of violence. The RCMP's recent report, for example, has confirmed that aboriginal women are overrepresented among murdered and missing women. Far too many aboriginal families have felt the effects of violent crime and have lived with the aftermath. This is unacceptable.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour.
Canada is a country where those who break the law are punished, where penalties match the severity of the crimes committed and where the rights of the victims are fully recognized. Abhorrent acts of violence are not tolerated in our society. These violent crimes must be strongly denounced by the communities in which they occur and by all Canadians.
Earlier this year, the Minister of Status of Women met with aboriginal leaders and community groups to talk about violence against aboriginal women and girls. She also met with some of the families of the women who had been murdered or gone missing. At those meetings, they discussed what the government should do to address this serious problem. The minister was told repeatedly that the time for talk was over. What we needed now was action. It was time to stop these terrible acts in our communities and to rally around victims and their families.
The Government of Canada has put in place a range of measures totalling nearly $200 million to address violence against aboriginal women and girls. This includes supporting the DNA missing persons index, with $8.1 million over five years, as well as $1.3 million per year in ongoing funding; continuing to support police investigations through the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains; and providing safe haven for victims by funding shelters and prevention activities on reserve, with $158.7 million over five years.
In addition to these ongoing initiatives, our government has taken steps to improve the status and protect the rights of aboriginal women. For example, we passed the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act to ensure that people living on first nation reserves would have similar access to similar matrimonial real property and protections to those living off reserve. Both sides of the House voted against that.
We also introduced the Canadian victim bill of rights, which sets out for the first time in Canadian history clear rights for victims of crime.
Finally, there is our Safe Streets and Communities Act which eliminates the use of conditional sentences, or house arrest for serious and violent crimes.
This brings me to the action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls. This action plan is our government's response to the report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. It sets out how we will allocate our new investment of $25 million to reduce violence against aboriginal women and girls. The plan identifies how we will work with partners in three priority areas: preventing violence, supporting victims, and protecting aboriginal women and girls from violence.
Over the next five years, we will provide funding to aboriginal organizations and communities to develop local solutions to address these priorities.
By bringing together a broad range of initiatives, the action plan builds on the valuable work that is already under way to address violence against aboriginal women and girls. The goal is to leverage these earlier successes so we can build upon previous investments, while expanding our efforts. For example, under this action plan, more communities, both on and off reserve, will develop community safety plans. That is $8.6 million over five years.
These plans work because they are designed and implemented by community members who understand better than anyone the unique safety challenges of the community in which they live. This initiative has been very successful in empowering communities to take charge of their own safety.
In addition to community safety planning, we will fund projects aimed at breaking intergenerational cycles of violence and encouraging healthy relationships. That is $2.5 million over five years. We will work with communities to empower women and girls to speak out. We will engage men and boys in preventing violence against women and girls.
The action plan also sets out a range of initiatives to support victims. That is $7.5 million over five years. This includes support for family-police liaison positions. Family-police liaison improves communication between police and victims families by ensuring that family members have access to timely information on cases.
Violence against aboriginal women and girls is a serious issue that requires a multifaceted response. No government or organization can tackle this problem alone. This work must be done in partnership across federal organizations with provinces and territories and through the leadership of the aboriginal communities and organizations.
The action plan is one important step toward safer communities for aboriginal women and girls. Specifically, we will continue to work with federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety to coordinate actions across the law enforcement and justice systems. We will ensure that aboriginal organizations and communities play a direct role in the community safety planning initiative and other efforts. We will provide communities and organizations with easier access to funding for a variety of projects to address violence against aboriginal women and girls, including those to raise awareness, promote healthy relationships and prevent violence on reserves.
By working together, we must ensure that aboriginal women and girls are no longer victimized, but are able to reach their full potential as mothers, as daughters, as sisters and as Canadians.