With the swaggering confidence of a ‘winner’, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh announced it was prepared to vote against the throne speech if his party’s key priorities are not reflected in some way in the Liberals’ policy agenda. With such bluster, it is easy to forget that the NDP was reduced to fourth place in the House of Commons behind the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois after winning just 24 seats in the recent election, down from the 39 it held before the October 21 vote.
Singh met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, where he laid out his priorities in the hopes of using his party’s position in a minority Parliament to get policies and laws that reflect New Democrat platform commitments.
Singh said he has three key priorities. The No. 1 ask from the NDP will be Liberal support for the immediate creation of a national universal pharmacare program.
Singh wants to see an “openness” from the Liberals to public dental coverage. He will also push Trudeau to drop the government’s legal challenge of a recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered Ottawa to pay $40,000 each in compensation to Indigenous children who were wrongly placed in foster care after 2007, as well as to their parents or grandparents.
When it comes to Singh’s top request, the Liberal platform did promise a $6-billion increase to provincial health transfers over the next five years to help pay for improvements including pharmacare. Singh has said this would not go far enough, despite criticism from the Liberals that Singh’s demands are unrealistic.
The advisory panel on pharmacare established by the Liberals during the last Parliament estimated full-scale pharmacare would cost at least $15 billion a year. Singh’s platform estimated the price at $11 billion by 2023-24. -CINEWS