Health care was the focus for federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh during his visit to Duncan on Jan. 26.
Singh and Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor held a round-table discussion with local health-care workers in the morning at the Cowichan Community Centre as part of Singh’s ongoing tour of communities on Vancouver Island to talk about Canada’s struggling health-care system.
After the meeting, Singh said many issues were raised, including the shortage of family doctors.
“[The NDP’s] vision is for everyone in the country to have access to family care physicians but, sadly, that’s not the reality right now as many people can’t get a doctor,” he said.
“The health-care workers also pointed out that there are long waits in emergency rooms, and some have even been shut down. They also said there are just not enough health-care workers to keep up with the demand for them.”
Singh said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not responding to the growing health crisis in Canada, and the Conservative Party is encouraging the privatization of health care in Canada.
He said privatizing health care will only make the situation worse, and it would cost more, be less equitable and would see more delays to the delivery of health care to Canadians.
“The NDP is the only federal party that stands against [privatization],” he said.
“We’re urging the federal government to step up and provide the resources to hire more health-care workers.”
Singh said he is cautiously optimistic that Trudeau said at the recent Liberal caucus retreat in Hamilton, Ont., that he would soon meet with Canada’s premiers to discuss health care, “but that should have happened months ago”.
“Our health-care system is on the verge of collapse and we need to use all the tools we have to prevent this,” he said.
But Singh said he’s pleased with the recent passage of Bill C-31 which will provide cheques of up to $650 to eligible families with children 12 and under to cover the cost of dental care.
The dental benefit was an initiative sparked by an agreement between Trudeau and Singh.
“We’re hoping to expand it by the end of the year to also include seniors, teenagers and people with disabilities,” he said.
“I’m very proud of this national program.”
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