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Ontario’s NDP is promising to introduce “Canada’s first universal Pharmacare plan” that would cover dental care and prescription drug costs should the party form a government following the June provincial election.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced the plan at a campaign-style event in downtown Toronto on Saturday that laid out five key planks of her election platform.
“We are going to make sure every working person in Ontario has dental benefits. And we will make the largest investment in public dental coverage in Ontario’s history — so that every senior can get the dental care they need. And every person on social assistance can get the dental care they need,” she told a packed room of supporters.
“No one should go years without a trip to the dentist because they’re a part-time worker, or retired, or because their job simply doesn’t come with benefits … We can help people be healthier and make life more affordable in our province if we can help more people go to the dentist.”
The plan will be called ‘Ontario Benefits,’ she explained.
The Hamilton Centre MPP went on to explain that the NDP’s proposal would also include prescription drug costs. The plan will initially cover 125 of the most commonly prescribed drugs and cost $ 475 million a year.
“It’s a prescription drug plan for everyone, no matter how old you are, no matter where you work, no matter how much money you make,” Horwath said.
The Ontario Liberals recently introduced free prescription drugs for anyone under the age of 25. The change, introduced in the 2017 provincial budget, took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The NDP’s platform also includes a promise to de-privatize Hydro One, improve care for seniors and children, convert provincial student loans into grants that will not have to be repaid and increase corporate tax rates.
Horwath did not provide any details about how an NDP government would pay for the promises made Saturday, but said more details about the plan will be made available at a technical brief at Queen’s Park on Monday.
A full NDP campaign platform is expected in the next few weeks, she added.
The address to her supporters focused heavily on other health care issues, including hospital wait times and seniors’ care.
In a statement issued after Horwath’s event, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she welcomes “a number of the ideas brought forward by the NDP today, especially those to help seniors, and support our healthcare system.”
Wynne said her government will “outline our plan to invest in mental health, health care, home care and child care” in a speech from the throne set for Monday.
Wynne prorogued the legislature late last week to allow for the address, a move that Horwath called a “stunt” and “nothing more than a desperate attempt to wipe the slate clean” heading into an election.