Victoria MP Laurel Collins recalls a conversation with a man who would stay home from his local film industry job because his dental pain was so bad, but he lacked benefits and couldn’t afford the work.
“It’s just wild that we have taken our teeth and pretended like they aren’t part of our health-care system,” she said in a phone interview.
That’s partly why she called the NDP’s agreement with the federal Liberals to prop up their minority government until June 2025 “historic” and a step toward Tommy Douglas’ dream of truly universal health care.
The supply and confidence agreement will see the NDP support the governing Liberals on budgets and confidence matters. The seven-pillar deal includes the two parties prioritizing action on health care, affordable housing, climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and more.
Collins touted the deal’s dental and pharmacare commitments – two big pieces of the NDP platform – as the biggest potential expansion of Canadian health care in a generation. She said Victoria residents – who constantly reach out to her about the housing crisis – will benefit from the deal providing a $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit this year, along with potential renewals in the future if cost-of-living challenges persist.
The deal in no way means the NDP won’t be keeping the government accountable, Collins said, noting there are plenty of issues where the two parties still disagree. The Liberals can find support from other parties on policies the NDP disapprove of, she added.
“We will continue to criticize them when they choose big corporations – big oil, big banks – over Canadians.” Collins said. She pointed to a motion by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh that was voted down in the House of Commons just hours after he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced their arrangement. That motion sought a three-per-cent surtax on any oil company and big-box store profits over $1 billion, which got support from a lone Liberal MP.
The NDP will push the government on aspects within the deal and others, the local MP said, adding she’s going to “fiercely fight” for issues like a guaranteed basic livable income and proportional representation.
One part of the deal includes the federal government developing a plan to phase out public funds for the fossil fuel sector. Collins, the NDP’s environment and climate change critic, said her party has secured the government eliminating one of its largest fossil fuel subsidies by the end of 2022, as part of that commitment.
Above all else, she said the prospect of no elections for a couple of years could help cool the heated partisanship in Parliament and the country.
“Politicians can stop creating divisions that are wearing people out and getting us nowhere; we’re making sure that people win this time.”
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