NDP want Liberals to expand GST rebate, fund school lunches in upcoming budget

OTTAWA — The New Democrats say they are using their agreement with the Liberal government as leverage to push for more ways to save Canadians money in the next federal budget.

Party leader Jagmeet Singh said he expects to see money in the budget to expand dental care coverage to teens, seniors and people living with a disability, which was part of the confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals.

But he also wants to see the government extend the six-month boost to the GST rebate, introduced last fall, which temporarily doubled the amount people received.

"That's something that we're going to use our power on," Singh said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"It's not in our agreement, but the agreement gives us the leverage to push for things like that."

Singh said his budget priority is helping Canadians find ways to save money through rebates or other cost-of-living initiatives.

"Federal funding for school lunches is something that can help kids and families with the pressure of the costs of living and the cost of food," Singh said.

"There's some signals Liberals we're open to it … but we want to see if we can continue to apply pressure to make it happen."

In November, the Liberal government opened up roundtable talks with teachers, parents, children and youth regarding a national school food policy, citing a 2018 World Health Organization survey that found one in five children in Canada are at risk of going to school hungry on any given day.

The NDP have agreed to support the minority government in key votes, including the budget, until 2025 in exchange for movement on shared priorities.

The Liberals plan to release the next federal budget on March 28.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press