NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party is prepared to withdraw from the supply and confidence agreement he signed with the Liberals if there is no federal action to address the health-care crisis.
The deal would see the NDP support the minority government on key votes in the House of Commons to avoid triggering an election before 2025. In exchange, the Liberals have promised to make progress on a number of NDP priorities, including health care.
While some terms of the agreement are very specific, the party’s accord on health care involves “additional ongoing investments,” but no timelines or specific dollar figures.
“If we don’t see action on health care, we absolutely reserve the right to withdraw our support,” Singh said at a press conference Monday.
“This is at the level of seriousness that we could make that serious consideration. We need to see action.”
Singh said he’s particularly concerned about the “escalating” problems in children’s hospitals across the country. He has requested an emergency debate in the House of Commons as hospitals deal with an influx of sick kids.
“We are at a breaking point,” Singh said. “Our children are at risk right now.”
Just last week, CHEO, the children’s hospital in Ottawa, called in support from the Canadian Red Cross to bolster staff who are treating record numbers of babies and children with respiratory illnesses.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary is using a heated trailer as an overflow waiting room to accommodate young patients.
Singh wrote to the House Speaker giving notice of the NDP’s request, citing these examples and other developments across Canada.
Singh wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with premiers to find a solution.
He says urgent action by the government should be informed by the debate of parliamentarians.
Singh said the conditions imposed in the supply and confidence agreement on health care are deliberately “flexible,” but the NDP leader added he’s not seeing urgency from the government.
“This is not just about health-care transfers. This is about an immediate crisis that requires immediate action and a prime minister to step up and show that leadership.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2022.
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