Freezing the market on handguns
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that we’re on the traditional unceded and shared territories of the Coast Salish peoples, the Katzie, Kwantlen, and Semiahmoo First Nations.
And I also want to take a moment to congratulate David Eby on becoming the leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party and the next premier of British Columbia. I look forward to working with him to make life more affordable and build a better future for everyone in the province. I’m looking forward to continuing the great work that I’ve been able to do with Premier Horgan over the past years. John has been a solid friend and an extraordinary leader through uncertain times here in B.C., but I can tell you that his impact, his influence, and his leadership has stretched right across the country. John will be sorely missed, as I wish him all the best in his next challenges, but I know that we’ll be very much looking forward to working with David as the months and years unfold in the future.
It is great to be back home in B.C. I got to spend some time with Canadians yesterday, people in British Columbia yesterday, including a number of women’s groups, to talk about how people are challenged with the cost of living. We know prices are going up, we know grocery bills, and rent, and gas prices are squeezing them in so many different ways, which is why we’ve stepped up as a government with targeted support that’s going to help millions upon millions of Canadians.
It’s great news that this week we passed the GST credit, that means we’re doubling the credit for six months in checks that are going to be arriving in the coming weeks to 11 million households across this country. It’ll make a real difference in the rising cost of living for so many Canadians. We’re also busy moving forward in the House of Commons with legislation that’s going to make dental care accessible for all kids under 12, with up to $1,300 in support over the next two years for families who can’t afford dental for their young kids. And we’re moving forward with direct support for low-income renters. It’ll hit about 2 million people, almost 2 million people, with a $500 top-up, that will really, again, make a difference with the rising cost of living.
We know that people are facing enormous cost-of-living challenges, which is why our government is here to help with the cost of living, with a GST credit that will arrive in the coming weeks to 11 million households, with dental care support for children across the country, with support for low-income renters.
We’re here today to talk about what we’re doing to keep our communities safe. As we see gun violence continue to rise in our cities, and unfortunately, Surrey and the lower mainland are no exception, we have an obligation to take action. Today, we’re joined by families and advocates, people who’ve been at the forefront of the fight for tougher gun control for years. People like Eileen Mohan, who lost her son to a stray bullet when he was only 22, 16 years ago this week. Thank you for all your leadership and your courage.
When people are being killed, when people are being hurt, responsible leadership requires us to act. Recently, again, we’ve seen too many examples of horrific tragedies involving firearms.
Two years ago, our government banned 1,500 models of assault weapons, including the Ruger Mini-14, which was used at Polytechnique, and the AR-15. We also extended background checks to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands.
In May, our government introduced measures to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership. Today, our national freeze on handguns is coming into force. From today forward, it is no longer legal to buy, sell, or transfer a handgun in Canada.
We have frozen the market for handguns in this country, and our ban on imports that took effect in August remains in place. This is one of the strongest actions we’ve taken on gun violence in a generation.
Today, the national freeze on handguns comes into force. It is now illegal to buy, sell, or transfer a handgun in Canada. We are freezing the market to decrease the number of handguns in the country. This is one of the strongest measures taken to strengthen gun control in a generation.
Our goal over time is to see the amount of handguns in our communities reduced. Let me share with you some statistics to illustrate why this is so important: The number of handguns in Canada has increased by 70% since 2010. Since 2011, firearms-related homicides have gone up nearly 40%, and handguns were the most commonly used weapon. One of every three girls and women killed by an abuser is murdered with a gun.
The presence of a handgun in a home increases the likelihood of self-harm or suicide. Keeping each other safe from gun violence means keeping women, children, and families safe, and it prevents self-harm. That’s why we’re taking actions today, so that what happened to the loved ones of Eileen and so many others never happens again.
Of course, freezing handgun ownership is not the only thing we’re doing to prevent gun violence. Before 2015, the previous Conservative government cut nearly $1 billion from law enforcement agencies, but this is not our vision for safer communities. Our Liberal government is reinforcing our borders and giving law enforcement the tools and resources they need to stop illegal gun smuggling. This includes major investments to address gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of gangs and criminals. With this funding, the CBSA can deploy new technology, like scanners that can X-ray an entire truck in a matter of minutes.
The work we’ve been doing over the past years is working. Last year, we interdicted nearly twice the amount of illegal guns coming across our border as we had the year before, and we’re not stopping that work. On top of that, we’re moving forward to increase maximum criminal penalties for gun-related crimes. And, as of two years ago, it is no longer legal to buy, sell, or use assault weapons in Canada, and we’re implementing a mandatory buyback. We will continue working together with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, and municipalities to build safer communities free from firearm violence.
And we will continue following the advice of doctors, experts, and police officers, who see the consequences of gun violence all too often, and we will continue being there for families and for those who are asking that we do more to protect our communities.
Again, I want to thank the advocates, those who are here today and those out across the country. Thank you for your strength, thank you for your perseverance. For too many of you, loss and grief is at the heart of what brings you here today, and we are deeply grateful you continue to stand for a better Canada. We thank you for all those efforts to build a safer future for all our kids, for all our communities.
Before I pass it to Marco, I want to highlight that I know you had the opportunity to visit the Burnaby Detachment of the RCMP this morning. Our hearts go out to the family of Constable Shaelyn Yang, and of course that means her family, but also her larger family of RCMP police and peace officers across the province and across the country who stand with her.
We continue to remain pledged to doing everything we can to ensure that our communities are safer, to make sure that people suffering from mental health and those mental health challenges and distress, and those who are on the front lines to help them and serve them are able to get the support and resources they need.