NDP promises universal pharmacare and guaranteed livable income for all Canadians if elected

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh unveiled his party's platform Thursday at Quidi Vidi, a historic fishing harbour in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Party says wealth tax would help cover its proposed services

By: Catharine Tunney 

If elected, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is promising to bring in universal prescription drug coverage, dental care and mental health supports within his first mandate and is vowing to bring in a wealth tax to help pay for it all.

This morning the federal party released a list of commitments focusing on health care and affordability, which is expected to form the backbone of its campaign platform during the looming federal election.

The document signals the party’s long-term vision, but a party spokesperson speaking on background said they believe universal prescription drug coverage, dental care and mental health care for the uninsured is doable within the first mandate.

The commitments document doesn’t contain a costing breakdown on its promises, so it’s not clear how much the fourth-place party’s promises would cost.

During a technical briefing with reporters before the release, a party official said they plan on working with the Parliamentary Budget Officer to estimate what it will cost to implement their proposals. 

Some previously announced promises, such universal prescription drug coverage, were costed in the 2019 election but could have risen.

To cover some of the proposed programs, the party said it would bring in a one per cent tax on households with wealth of more than $10 million — widening the net from its previous promise of wealth over $20 million.

A party official said the new promise would bring in as much as $10 billion a year to then be invested in services.

Another revenue source would be a promised temporary COVID-19 excess profit tax that puts an additional 15 per cent tax on large corporations that recorded major profits during the pandemic. 

“We’re going to ask the ultra-rich to finally start paying their fair share and invest that into people,” Singh told reporters during a news conference in St. John’s.

Mental health supports

As part of its health-care plank, the party says a New Democrat government would bring in mental health care for uninsured Canadians so that people without such coverage would be able to seek out help.

It’s one of the big-ticket items, along with making post-secondary education part of Canada’s public education system, that would require buy-in from the provinces. 

A party official said the pandemic proved that provinces are willing to work with Ottawa across party lines.

Other promises include:

  • $10-a-day child care.
  • Reintroducing 30-year terms to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time home buyers. 
  • Creating at least half a million units of affordable housing in the next 10 years.
  • Guaranteed livable income for all Canadians. 
  • A price cap on cell phone bills.
  • Continuing wage and rent subsidies for small businesses as the pandemic continues.

While the release suggests the NDP is preparing for an election, Singh said he’d rather work in Parliament than head out on the campaign trail.

“If Justin Trudeau was listening to people and their concerns and their worries, he would not be holding a selfish summer election,” he said.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has also said that the Liberals should not rush the country into a federal election during a fourth wave of the pandemic.

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