Jagmeet Singh talks Muskrat Falls, doctor shortages and oil and gas during N.L. stop

·3 min read
New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke to reporters during a campaign stop in St. John's Saturday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke to reporters during a campaign stop in St. John's Saturday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says if elected, his government would be ready to address a host of issues connected to Newfoundland and Labrador, ranging from a shortage of doctors to the future of the oil and gas industry.

As part of a campaign stop in St. John's to announce a proposed federal dental care plan to Canadians, Singh spoke about his connections to the Atlantic region, his friendship with outgoing MP Jack Harris — who will not seek reelection — and a desire to see the region represented in Ottawa.

"St. John's is a place that's got a special place in my heart … I got a lot of love for the Atlantic, I feel often that the Atlantic and the Atlantic region is ignored," he said Saturday.

"We want to fight for you, we want to earn your support."

If elected, Singh said an NDP government would honour the $5.2-billion deal made between the federal and provincial governments to help keep electricity costs from spiking as a result of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

"We need to make sure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians aren't left with a huge bill for the electricity," Singh told CBC Radio's Weekend AM before Saturday's press conference.

On top of honouring the deal, Singh said his government would be prepared to improve on it — making sure Indigenous communities are consulted and negotiated with and making the deal more inclusive.

Investing in a future economy

When asked about the NDP's decision to end federal subsidies for the oil and gas sector if elected, Singh said the federal government has a responsibility to future-proof the economy while also protecting workers in the province.

"We know a lot of workers have gone through busts and booms, things have been really unpredictable. We know where the global markets are headed," he said.

Paul Daly/Canadian Press
Paul Daly/Canadian Press

"We know that there's been a lot of indications from the global markets, or big auto manufacturers that said they're going to stop producing fossil fuelled engines. We should be prepared for that, and make investments in a future economy so that people have good jobs for the long term."

Singh's opposition has taken a different stance on oil and gas subsidies. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole pledged to "re-kick-start the offshore" during a campaign stop in Corner Brook, while the party's candidate in St. John's East, Glenn Etchegary, said his party has an "alternate view" to the other major parties.

Liberal candidate Joanne Thompson said she's in favour of a "balanced approach" that will meet the target of net zero emissions while also protecting the workers who will be impacted by a transition away from the oil and gas industry.

Doctor shortage 'a serious problem'

On top of the announced dental plan to help uninsured Canadians, Singh said addressing a shortage of doctors in the province is a key concern.

He said, if elected, an NDP government would reverse cuts to the health care system made by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and maintained by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help increase funding to the system.

CBC
CBC

"When you starve a system of funding, particularly a public system like our health-care system, then the outcomes are going to be that we have less resources and less nurses and less staffing," he said.

"It directly meant that there was less funding in our healthcare system, and that made it harder for people to get the care they needed."

Singh said his government would also work to incentivize living and working in the Atlantic provinces.

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