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Singh meeting with Trudeau about private health care ahead of sit-down with premiers

‘The deal will be a failure if it doesn’t include major commitments to hire more health-care workers’
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, from left to right, B.C. Premier David Eby and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh prepare to march in the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, in Vancouver, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he will sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday afternoon to discuss private health care ahead of next week’s summit with premiers.

Trudeau is expected to meet with provincial and territorial leaders in Ottawa next Tuesday to discuss a new health-care funding deal.

“The deal will be a failure if it doesn’t include major commitments to hire more health-care workers,” Singh said Monday, adding that the funding should be kept within the public system.

The last time Trudeau and Singh met one-on-one, as outlined in the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and the NDP, was in December.

Singh said now is the time for the Liberal government to make clear that funding private health-care facilities will not improve the shortage of health-care workers Canada is facing.

While health care falls under provincial jurisdiction, Singh believes the federal government could be using the Canada Health Act more aggressively to challenge for-profit care.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this month that it’s moving some procedures to publicly funded, private facilities to address a growing surgery wait-list, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have already made similar moves.

“We think the federal government should be making it very clear that the solution to the current health-care crisis will not come from a privatization, for-profit delivery of care. It’ll only come by making sure we hire, recruit, retain and respect health-care,” Singh said.

“Health care is already dramatically understaffed, and for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses — cannibalizing hospitals, forcing people to wait longer in pain and racked with anxiety.”

The New Democrats say they’re also concerned that private facilities will upsell patients for brands and services not covered by the province, and tack on extra fees and services.

On Saturday, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said his Liberal government will ensure people don’t use their credit cards for health-care services and health care will remain universally public.

Singh is also expected to request an emergency House of Commons debate on the privatization of health care Monday afternoon.

If the request is granted, the debate could go ahead as early as Monday evening.

Health care is a top priority for the leader as members of Parliament return to the House Monday following a holiday break.

Singh spent some of that time away holding roundtable discussions on health care in British Columbia to discuss emergency room overcrowding and worker shortages.

—Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

RELATED: B.C. health minister Dix ‘delighted’ premiers finally set to meet PM on funding





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