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MP Cannings all smiles on national dental care plan

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings says the federal New Democrats have used their power “to deliver the biggest expansion of health care in a generation.”

Cannings says he was “excited and pleased” with the outcome of an agreement that will see the NDP prop up the minority Liberal government in exchange for a new national dental care plan as well as a new Pharmacare Act.

Cannings says although he was not part of the negotiations, the NDP brought forward seven broad areas as priorities, which also included proportional representation and a wealth tax, but they didn’t get everything they hoped for. However, he’s pleased with the concessions they won.

He says the new dental care plan should have been included in Medicare when it was first introduced in the 1960s. It will provide dental coverage for low and middle-income earners, but not high earners.

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Canning says about seven million Canadians lack any coverage, which would translate to 40,000 to 50,000 people in his riding alone.

“Kids can grow up with good teeth and seniors can get good coverage,” he says. “I think it’s a huge win for all Canadians.”

By 2023 Canada will also have a new national Pharmacare Act and within three years a national pharmacare program that he says will save about $4 billion per year on prescription drugs.

Cannings says the Liberals agreed to those terms despite previously voting against them, so the agreement was vital to securing them.

In return the NDP will provide its support on votes of confidence and budgets. But Cannings says it does not mean the two parties have formed a coalition, nor does it cover any other legislation or motions.

“We can oppose those as vigorously as we like and we can criticize budgets,” he says. “We will continue to criticize the Liberal government whenever is necessary, and it’s often necessary.

“If you listen to Question Period in the past couple of days, you’ll see we’re still speaking very strongly against government policies we disagree with.”

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