HAMILTON — The federal NDP says if it is elected this fall it will expand Canada's health-care system, starting with fast-tracking a universal drug plan to ensure a late 2020 start date.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says if his party forms government after the October federal election, it will inject $10 billion annually into a national pharmacare program.
The NDP proposal would see the pharmacare program start sooner than an expert panel recently recommended.
The panel said a national list of prescription drugs for pharmacare should be established by Jan. 1, 2022, and be expanded no later than Jan. 1, 2027.
The NDP policy comes in a new "commitments document" — dubbed A New Deal for People — unveiled today at the Ontario NDP convention in Hamilton.
In remarks provided to the media in advance of his convention speech Sunday morning, Singh says the plan would save families who already have insurance coverage $550 a year.
"For the first time, every single Canadian can count on this," he said. "If you need medication, if someone you love needs medication, you can get it — period. Paid for with your health card, not your credit card."
Singh said the NDP plan would also eventually expand universal coverage to dental, vision and hearing care as well.
The 109-page document also contains promises to create 500,000 more affordable housing units, expand grant programs for post-secondary education and address the cost of cellphone service and high-speed broadband.
The party is pledging to spend a billion dollars in 2020 to enhance child care across the country.
The document also promises to restore door-to-door mail delivery to all communities that have lost it — which would cost $100 million — and to establish a gasoline-price watchdog to monitor fuel prices and prevent "gouging."
The party says it would raise government revenues to pay for its policies through a number of measures including increasing corporate taxes and by creating a so-called "wealth tax."
Taxes on the richest Canadians — those with net worth of $20 million or more — would jump by one per cent, generating several billion dollars annually in revenue.
"The Liberals and Conservatives have been working for the people at the very top instead of working for you," Singh said. "We are going to change that."
The party would roll back corporate tax cuts provided by previous governments to 2010 levels, an increase from the current 15 to 18 per cent, generating billions more for government coffers a year.
Singh said the party would also institute a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax on residential purchases to prevent housing markets from overheating.
The NDP does not make a specific promise to balance the federal budget.
"In all cases, we will manage debt and deficits responsibly, borrowing when required to defend the services that Canadians and their families rely on, and moving to balance when prudent," the document says.