NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said affordable housing is high on the list of priorities for Canadians at a stop in Penticton with South Okanagan – West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings on Thursday morning.
— Penticton Western News (@PentictonNews) August 29, 2019
“We want to build half a million new homes. We want to give people a place to live that is affordable and we want to invest in co-operative housing and non-market places where people can have the confidence to live there for as long as they need and save up and keep that dream of homeownership alive,” Singh told reporters before setting off on the final leg of Cannings’ annual Ride the Riding bike tour.
If elected prime minister in the upcoming federal election this fall, Singh said his government would look at policies that ensure Canadians weren’t spending more than 25 to 30 per cent of their incomes on housing.
“It’s got to be something you can afford to pay for and still have money left over to pay for the other necessities in life,” he said.
Healthcare costs, such as medication, are driving up the cost of living, Singh added.
“Particularly for the aging population, we’re hearing concerns about the cost of medication and that is why our plan is to include universal access to medication,” he said.
“If you need to get medication in this country, you should use your healthcare, not a credit card. That’s what we want to bring and we are absolutely confident we can get it done in one year.”
Related to issues with criminal convictions for drug possession and dealing with the opioid crisis in Canada, Singh said the federal government needs to take a different approach to the issues because the current ones are “not working.”
“We need to respond to that mental health, addiction and poverty issue with a healthcare response. We really need to take care of these folks and make sure that they actually get the supports they need for rehab so they are not in this position.”
He said if the federal government wants to help saves lives, it needs to look at the root causes of addiction.
“If someone is possessing personal amounts of an illicit substance, they are probably addicted and struggling with something. We need to deal with that root cause and we’ll have a better society and we’ll save lives.”
In Penticton, families have expressed frustration with the high cost of childcare.
Singh said if elected, his government would be committed to a national childcare strategy that would aim for $10 a daycare. He said the federal NDP would develop universal, affordable childcare across Canada so it wasn’t a barrier for women who want to enter the workplace.
Cannings said the current climate crisis is the number one issue he is hearing about from people in the riding.
“People are very, very concerned about the climate crisis. People feel the government, both the Liberals and Conservatives, are not doing enough. The (federal) Liberals have been saying the right things and just not doing anything, very little to get us through this climate crisis,” he said.
“Canada has to do its part, it’s too late to be a leader, but we have to get behind other countries in the world that are doing their part. China is doing even more than we are. We have to double down.”
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