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Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visited the University of Saskatchewan’s dental clinic on Thursday to meet with students and faculty and talk about the government’s new dental care plan.
Under the plan, children, seniors and disabled people with a family income of less than $70,000 a year will get free dental care.
Families with higher incomes, up to $90,000, will be able to pay on a sliding scale.
“We have expanded our health-care system for the first time in a generation, by forcing the Liberal government to bring in a dental plan that is going to cover millions of Canadians,” Singh said.
“We have forced the government to give people a break — to save them money, and also save them from the pain of not having dental care.”
The deal — which the NDP negotiated as one of its terms for supporting the Liberal minority government until at least 2025 — is “something the Liberal government would not have done unless we forced them to do it,” he added.
“It wasn’t like they were going to do it, and we just accelerated it. They voted against this twice in the past.”
Singh said programs like expanded dental care are what Saskatchewan voters can expect if they elect NDP leaders. As of the last federal election, the province’s 14 ridings are entirely represented by Conservative MPs.
“I want people in Saskatchewan to know, this is what you get when you vote for a New Democrat,” Singh said. “If you want something to change — if you want things to be better, if you want to get a break — New Democrats deliver. Conservatives are going to make noise in the corner, but they’re not actually going to make your life any better. (And) the Liberals are just going to keep things the same. … So I want to show the people of Saskatchewan, here is the benefit of voting for a New Democrat.”
Singh also delved into the rising cost of housing.
“We need to build more homes that are affordable, faster,” he said. “We (are) a G7 nation with significant resources, and we’re just not building homes fast enough.
“There needs to be a serious approach to the housing crisis, which is impacting every community in this country, and is impacting people from all income levels. People with good jobs — who graduate with good jobs — can’t ever find a place that’s in their budget in the community they grew up in. We’ve got people with lower incomes that are struggling, and we’ve got people who are homeless who can’t find a place.
“This is a national crisis.”
Singh also advocated for expanding employment insurance, arguing that not enough Canadian workers are covered by the program as the country heads into uncertain economic times.
“All the economists I have spoken to have said, very clearly, that there are all the … early signs of an upcoming recession,” he said. “There is some debate about how severe it might be; there is no debate about one coming. If we are staring down a recession, we need to have an employment insurance that covers all workers.
“Right now, the current program covers about 40 per cent of workers in Canada. That means 60 per cent of workers are going to be left high and dry if a recession hits.”
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