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Singh proposes a meeting in Dubé on drug insurance and dental care

Photo: Justin Tang The Canadian Press The dental care program, notes Jagmeet Singh in his letter, should ultimately benefit 2.5 million Quebecers. And the province will be the one that will benefit “the greatest benefit,” he assures.

Michel Saba – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

March 7, 2024

  • Canada

Faced with the cold reception from the Quebec government to the announcement of national drug insurance and dental care programs, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Jagmeet Singh, wrote to the Quebec Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, and to the deputy Vincent Marissal of Québec solidaire, to propose a meeting.

“I wanted to remind these two politicians […] the reason why we entered political life: it is to improve people’s lives,” he explained Tuesday evening in an interview with The Canadian Press. We now have a golden opportunity with these two measures to do exactly that. »

In his letter sent a few hours earlier, and of which The Canadian Press obtained a copy, Mr. Singh regrets that the two elected officials plan to go to Ottawa not to collaborate in the implementation of the programs, but to reaffirm Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, an objective that Mr. Marissal also considers “urgent”.

However, writes Jagmeet Singh, “what is really urgent in my eyes” is that many Quebecers are unable to pay for the dental care and medications they need because it would cost them too much .

Even before the announcement of the drug insurance program on Thursday, the Quebec government hastened to draw out its right of withdrawal with “full compensation, and without conditions” by explaining that the health care falls within its jurisdiction.

In his letter, Jagmeet Singh says he is “inundated” with messages of “gratitude,” including from seniors who “are delighted to no longer suffer and save more than $1,000 annually.” The dental care program, he notes, will ultimately benefit 2.5 million Quebecers. And the province will be the one that will “reap the greatest benefit”.

The NDP leader implores Minister Dubé and MP Marissal not to block “social progress”, while the universal and free coverage of contraception and diabetes medications that Ottawa is proposing would make “an unimaginable difference” in the lives of people. Quebecers and diabetics.


Mr. Singh, whose party fought tooth and nail for these covers to the point of making them elements of their agreement allowing Justin Trudeau's minority government to remain in power, declared in an interview to be “upset” that MM. Dubé and Marissal “don’t think about people” and prefer “academic” battles.

“Do the elders talk about areas of expertise or do they say: ‘I want to fix my teeth, it costs too much and I can’t,’” he asked. In this specific case, they (the Legault government and Québec solidaire) are not connected with the reality of people in Quebec. »

Mr. Singh also did not mince his words regarding Quebec Premier François Legault, whom he recently described as “conservative”.

“It closes the door to seniors in Quebec for dental care, it closes the door to women in Quebec for contraceptive medications and it closes the door to people living with diabetes,” argued the New Democratic leader.

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The federal Minister of Health, Mark Holland, is for his part uncompromising on his “common objectives” which he steadfastly refuses to qualify as conditions. His bill, however, goes so far as to specify that funding will only be provided if the provinces offer universal coverage, the costs of which they fully cover.

Holland says health care delivery “is not a question of jurisdiction.” He repeated at the start of the week that Canadians do not want “the argument”, but “the results”.

“Little poorly-constructed diet”

The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, continued Tuesday on the synthetic majority” of the Liberals and “instrumentalize the hostility against Quebec which is successful in Canada”.

Mr. Blanchet said the Quebec regime “already offers” what Ottawa is offering. However, Quebec has a hybrid public-private plan and it does not fully reimburse contraceptive products and diabetes medications.

Moreover, the man who is considered the father of Quebec's drug insurance plan, the former PQ Minister of Health Jean Rochon, judged in 2015 that the Quebec program is “ripe for a major transformation”. He called on Ottawa to adopt a “fully public” regime and noted that “the leadership of the federal government could be decisive in this matter.”

The Bloc leader also criticized the NDP for “disavowing” its only MP in Quebec, Alexandre Boulerice, who repeated loudly and clearly last week that his party had its “Sherbrooke Declaration” tattooed on its heart. The document states that Quebec should have a “right of withdrawal with compensation”, without “conditions or standards”.

However, this position still holds, insisted Mr. Singh, who describes himself as a “proud ally of the Quebec nation”, and that he only asks to sit down to discuss and find solutions rather than slamming the door.

A member of his entourage to whom The Canadian Press granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly explained that the missive sent Tuesday aims to “occupy space” and “redirect the public conversation” to “the real business”, i.e. “the people who are struggling”.

The Liberals are “almost absent” and lack “proactivity and leadership,” accuses this NDP source. “They are not currently putting pressure on the Quebec government to say let's sit down, “let's go”, we can get there, we have negotiated a lot of deals together, let's sit down, we can achieve these objectives – there, come and meet us. »

The NDP is ready to put water in its wine, it is said, and to encourage the Liberals to do the same. There would be, for example, openness to the government of Quebec administering the dental care program, it is mentioned.

– With information from Caroline Plante, in Quebec

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116