OTTAWA — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to alleviate a burgeoning health care “crisis” in Brampton, Ont., by pledging to build a new hospital, despite the province being responsible for such decisions.
“We commit to building a new hospital in Brampton. We will support the funding for this hospital,” he said.
Singh made the announcement in the Ontario riding Thursday on a roadside near a local hospital. But working with Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford could be a challenge should the NDP form government, he conceded.
“It’s going to be difficult to work with a Conservative premier who has not made health care a priority, and instead has been cutting services,” the NDP leader said before expressing confidence that enough cash could get Ford’s attention.
“But if we show the courage, we show the conviction, we show that we’re ready — and we’ve got money available on the table to make this a reality — I can’t see why a premier would say no to that, especially when the people need it so desperately.”
The NDP leader also said he would expand the Peel Memorial Hospital and repeated his party’s pledge to implement pharmacare by 2020.
Singh’s promise resurrects an effort led by the Ontario NDP last year to secure enough money in the province’s budget to build a third hospital in the area. Brampton is the third largest city in the Greater Toronto Area — and has five federal seats in its boundaries.
“This is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada. It is underserved and the five Liberal MPs have failed the people of the city,” he said, claiming federal representatives haven’t prioritized health care, a provincial responsibility.
Singh used to represent the area provincially when he served as an Ontario NDP MPP for the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton.
Overcrowded hospitals are an issue in the city. According to CBC News, more than 4,300 people received care in the hallways of Brampton Civic Hospital between April 2016 and April 2017. With limited hospital space, some patients have had to wait up to 70 hours for a bed.
Ford’s government defeated the Ontario NDP motion asking for a new Brampton hospital.
Health care is a provincial and territorial responsibility in Canada. The federal government supports provinces by sending billions via the Canada Health Transfer to help pay for services.
Singh said Thursday that he would increase federal health transfers, but offered no details on how his plan would look.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer made a similar promise last month by pledging to increase health and social transfer payments by at least three per cent annually. The federal finance minister criticized the pledge, calling the the three-per-cent promise an indication of potential future cuts.
“Between the Canada Health Transfer’s existing formula and our new Health Accord, our funding for health care is expected to rise by $4.1 per cent in 2021-2022,” read a letter addressed to Scheer from finance minister Bill Morneau last month.
The Liberals have yet to indicate if they intend to make changes to health and social transfers to provinces and territories.
Watch: Jagmeet Singh kicks off NDP election campaign in southern Ontario