Jagmeet Singh pledged his New Democratic Party will bring pharmacare faster and expand care for dental, mental, optical and hearing coverage as part of his federal election platform that he announced on Sunday, dubbed the “New Deal for Canada”.
“This is our roadmap of the possible,” said as he introduced the platfrom from an Ontario NDP convention in Hamilton, saying “based on the values that Canadians believe in: working hard, doing what’s right and taking care of each other.”
First up for Singh was comprehensive, public pharamacare which he said would cost Canadians $10 billion a year after a 2020 launch. Last week, an advisory council appointed by the ruling Liberals found that pharmacare could start by 2021 — though it not confirmed as party of the Liberal platform.
Asked why he thinks pharmacare can be implemented a year earlier than the advisory council chair Eric Hoskins’ plan, Singh said Hoskins was overly cautious and there are decades worth of studies to lay out what should be done
Singh said the NDP would expand medicare to “addictions care” for everyone, citing his father’s experience with addictions, which he overcame because there were supports available, which is not always the case.
If elected, Singh as prime minister would on day one delcare a national public health emergency over the opioid crisis, with the NDP aiming to end criminalization and stigma surrounding drug addition.
As for how an NDP government would pay for the healthcare expansions, Singh said there would be a tax on those with $20 million will pay a one per cent weath tax.
Singh also addressed Indigenious issues. For the NDP leader, reconciliation means acknowledging that the “systemic failures” that led to the killing of indigenous women and girls is a genocide, and bringing in the changes that ensure it will never happen again.
Singh ended his speech to over 1,000 cheering supporters asking the country to give the New Democrats a chance and promising “we will not let you down.”
In a Liberal Party response via MP Marc Miller, the party does not criticize the NDP platform but point out the lack of costing and say Canadians expect those details from a national party, iPolitics reporter Marieke Walsh said.
The member of parliament’s statement goes on to attach the previous NDP platform from 2015 and outlines what the ruling Liberal Party have done since being elected nearly four years ago.
Sunday’s announcement puts the NDP ahead of the other major national parties in an unusually early platform release, a move he said was to allow candidates and the party to talk about the platform over what will be a summer of campaigning across the country.
When he was asked about the difference between the “cautious” NDP platform of 2015 and the one laid out Sunday, Singh said “I’m a different leader”, reported CBC.
The Post has reached out to the local nominees vying to run as the New Democrat candidates locally, who said they will give a response later on Sunday. Both watched the announcement in person at the Hamilton Convention Centre.
Local NDP nominee Aisha Jahangir was present to watch Singh’s platform announcement, just a few feet away from the party leader. She told the Post “Jagmeet was literally bouncing with excitement and the energy in the hall was awesome”.
Jahangir was on in on the platform. “I am just thrilled by the audacity” of the plan, she said, explaining that “too many times, I have seen patients suffering suffering because they couldn’t afford to full a prescription or the get a painful cavity filled.”
“And on almost a daily basis, I see people who desperately need access to counselling or mental health care, but they are stuck on a wait-list or can’t get help at all,” the nominee, who is vying for the candidacy of the local NDP on June 23, said.
“The New Deal for People will finally complete the dream of Tommy Douglas, with all Canadians able to get prescription medicines or eye-glasses or a long-term care placement by showing their Health card instead of a credit card. It really can be a new day – a new deal – for Canadians.”
Jahangir’s competitor for the candidacy of the NDP, Andy McCann-Pappin, was also inside the convention, he told The Post lasted on Sunday.
He said “I could not have been more thrilled with the platform announcement. It was a treat to be there live for it. I think it paints a picture of a complete universal health care system that leaves no one behind.”
“Today, the NDP delivered a bold truly progressive platform that puts people first. And I could not be more proud to have the chance to bring it forward.”
The candidate will be chosen at the Evergreen Centre starting at 2 p.m. on June 22.