The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Singh delivers message of improving healthcare to Saskatoon supporters

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New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh holds hands with MP Sheri Benson and an attendee during a campaign event at Fédération des Francophones de Saskatoon on Oct. 4, 2019. | Heywood Yu

Welcomed by a crowd diverse in age and cultural backgrounds, the New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh made a stop in Saskatoon. Singh is the third candidate for prime minister to visit the city since the election period began. 

During his visit to a downtown Francophone community centre on the morning of Oct. 4, Singh delivered the NDP’s plans to improve Canada’s healthcare system. MP for Saskatoon West Sheri Benson introduced the candidate by highlighting other politicians’ “empty promises” before declaring that “Singh is different.”

Before focussing on policy, Singh began with a Treaty 6 land acknowledgment, promising to work towards “true and honest reconciliation.”

By discussing the “tough decisions” Canadians are making when they cannot afford medications, Singh presented his policy platform of extending healthcare coverage and providing dental care for those earning under $70,000 a year.

“We’re going to put in place universal pharmacare for everyone in our country,” Singh said. “If you need medication … you’re going to be using your health card, not your credit card.”

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh gives a thumbs up to the crowd at the NDP campaign event held at the Fédération des Francophones de Saskatoon on Oct. 6, 2019. | Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

Singh criticized his opposition, saying the Liberals have failed to fulfill their promise of lowering the cost of medication and that if the Conservatives were elected they would cut healthcare services to lower taxes. He highlighted the NDP’s plan to immediately implement a “publicly-
delivered insurance plan” by making “the wealthiest pay their fair share.”

“We’re going to ask people who’ve got fortunes of over $20 million to pay a little bit more,” Singh said. “And that plan has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer that’s going to raise $70 billion.”

While taking questions from the media, the Sheaf inquired what actions Singh would take as prime minister to ensure the continued affordability of medications under the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement currently being negotiated by the Liberals. Singh claims this trade agreement would raise the cost of medications.

“It’s a worse deal than we had before,” Singh responded. “But that’s why it’s more important than ever that we bring in place a universal system that uses the buying power of 37 million Canadians … bringing down the prices of medication when we negotiate in bulk.”

To finish up, Singh distinguished the NDP from other parties by delivering a firm stance on social issues. He was critical of the Green and Conservative parties for having members who do not have a “clear position” on women’s’ reproductive rights.

“There is no question [that] all New Democrats firmly believe in the right to choose, and if anyone did not, they would not be a New Democrat anymore,” Singh said.

When questioned about a racist political cartoon of him wearing a bomb in his turban, tweeted by Saskatoon-Grasswood MP candidate Mark Friesen of the People’s Party of Canada, Singh spoke out against political fear-mongering in favour of embracing diversity.

“When you have images that try to inflame hatred … what it does is create a less safe society for a lot of people,” Singh said. “That to me is the exact opposite of what it should be about; our job should be about bringing people together.”

Krista Forsberg, a 16-year‑old who attended the event, says she supports the NDP because of their commitment to diversity. Although the teenager is not old enough to vote, she has been a member of the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats since she was 13 and has a passion for encouraging fellow Indigenous people to participate in Canadian politics.

“It’s important because we do have that power to use your voice,” Forsberg said. “It is speaking out about Indigenous problems like ‘Hey, you can change this, too,’ so it’s not just people making decisions for us.”

Noah Callaghan/ Staff Writer

Photos: Heywood Yu, Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

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