Skip to content

NDP leader talks pharmacare, child care during visit to qathet

Jagmeet Singh meets with day-care operator, Tla’amin Nation officials and local residents during day-long trip

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh travelled to qathet region, visited a child-care centre, met with Tla’amin Nation officials, and participated in a meet and greet at Willingdon Beach earlier this week.

During the March 4 visit, Singh took time out for an interview with the Peak to discuss the national pharmacare program, child care and Tla’amin.

Singh said he was pleased that the federal pharmacare program is proceeding, providing contraception and diabetes medications and supplies to those who need them. Singh said he was adamant that the federal Liberals proceed with the program, and that he was prepared to withdraw from the supply and confidence agreement he struck with the Liberals on March 22, 2022, which has propped up the minority federal government.

“We were at a point where we were very serious,” said Singh. “We wanted them [the Liberals] to know that the repercussions would be that the deal would be over.

“With the pharmacare program, we have covered two classes of medication across the country. With diabetes, we realized it wasn’t enough to cover just the insulin or other insulin-related medications. It also had to include the devices. The ability to live in a meaningful way without the pressure and stresses of the illness could not be achieved unless the devices were included as well.”

Singh said that BC had brought in free contraception so it was evident that it could be done across the country. He said his party is proud that it was able to achieve the pharmacare additions because they are going to make a difference in people’s lives.

Singh now wants the program expanded to cover many more medications that Canadians require. He said there are many cases of Canadians having to decide whether to take their medications or eat.

“It’s painful and hurtful to even think about this but people have come to me personally and told me they choose between groceries and their medications,” said Singh. “That should not be a choice that Canadians have to make.”

Child care

Singh visited the Second Nature Childcare Centre in Powell River during his visit and said that $10-a-day child care is transformational. He said when the pilot project was running in BC, one of Singh’s constituents in Burnaby came up to him and outlined the importance of the program. He said his constituent was in tears and described that she and her partner had realized they could not afford to have a family because child care is so expensive.

“They wanted to have a kid really badly and as soon as they found out that the child care program was available, they put themselves on the list, they got accepted and immediately started planning to have a child,” said Singh. “It literally made the difference between them choosing to have a child or not, and she was in tears of joy that this could change her life.”

Singh said the federal Conservatives are very clear that they are going to take this away from Canadians.

“They are going to take away the funding that we fought for, that we secured in a Childcare Act,” said Singh. “We secured child care funding to help bring it down to $10 a day to make it affordable. The Conservatives and Pierre Poilievre would get rid of that and cut it. That would mean that people couldn’t afford child care anymore.”

Singh said he would like to see an expansion of the program and measures put in place to attract more people to become early childhood educators.

“We need a strategy for proper pay and proper working conditions so we have the workforce that meets the needs as well,” added Singh.

Tla'amin visit

He also said that his time with Tla’amin Nation representatives was productive.

“They showed us some things they are proud of,” said Singh. “They’ve built some affordable homes, they made some really important investments, and I was proud to see that positive steps are being taken.

“The Tla’amin people are similar to all Canadians, being worried about matters such as the cost of living and the housing crisis.”

Singh said Tla’amin is really interested in finding ways of working together with the broader community and he appreciated the vision around economic development that can only happen where there is collaboration between the city, the regional government and Tla’amin.

Singh said that with Tla’amin being a modern treaty nation, it has had incredible opportunities as a result of self-government.

“When I compare that with communities that don’t have the same self-governance, I could see that Tla’amin Nation is in a much better position having that self-governance,” added Singh.

Join the Peak's email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday.