HALIFAX — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he will use the upcoming sitting of Parliament to push the Liberals to move on dental care and housing, as laid out in the deal between the two parties.
Singh told reporters Wednesday ahead of a caucus retreat in Halifax that he intends to “continue to force this government to deliver for people.”
In March, the New Democrats struck a deal with the Liberals to keep the minority government in power until 2025 as long as there is action on NDP priorities, including dental care and housing support.
The Liberals have promised to create a dental care program, beginning by providing coverage for children under the age of 12 from low- and middle-income families by the end of this year. This would expand to include children under 18, seniors and people with disabilities by 2023, and all Canadians with household incomes under $90,000 in 2025.
Sources told The Canadian Press last month that the Liberals are unlikely to meet the first deadline and are planning a stopgap solution until a permanent incarnation of the program is ready.
Four sources with knowledge of the government's plan, but who are not authorized to speak publicly, said the temporary solution would involve giving qualifying families the money directly to fund their dental health services while the government works on a more permanent, expanded program.
Singh said Wednesday he’s very confident the first target of dental care for children will be met by the end of the year, warning there will be “repercussions” if it isn’t.
“We want to make sure people get the dental care that we fought so hard to force this government to deliver,” Singh said.
When the House of Commons resumes sitting in mid-September, his party will focus on pushing the government to address affordability issues amid the rising cost of living, the NDP leader said.
“With the cost of living going up, inflation going up, that requires giving people some support,” he said.
Singh said he wants the federal GST credit doubled and he wants increases to the Canada Child Benefit and Canada Housing Benefit programs in order to “put more money” in families’ pockets.
Singh also expressed concern over Wednesday’s news that the Bank of Canada increased its key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point to 3.25 per cent.
“We understand that the Bank of Canada is independent, but I’m deeply concerned that the approach is: don’t increase wages for workers, increase interest rates,” Singh said.
Singh said this will “put more burden on the backs of workers and do nothing about corporate greed.”
He added that he’s disappointed to see big box stores and retail chains “increasing their prices beyond the increase in cost to make record profits” and said he wants the federal government to tax what he calls excess profits of large corporations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press