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NDP candidates propose $800-million dental plan

NDP candidates Jack Harris (left) and Anne Marie Anonsen (right) outline the federal NDP's plan to expand dental care.
NDP candidates Jack Harris (left) and Anne Marie Anonsen (right) outline the federal NDP's plan to expand dental care. - David Maher
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

New Democratic Party candidates Jack Harris and Anne Marie Anonsen were in St. John’s on Friday to make their pitch on their party’s plan for dental care. 

The dental care program would expand dental coverage to families with household income of less than $70,000 and feature a sliding-scale payment scheme for those with household incomes between $70,000 and $90,000 annually. 

The Parliamentary Budget Office released its review of the NDP's proposal on Sept. 18. The independent office estimates it would cost $560 million in its first year, $1.8 billion in its second year, and between $824 million and $856 million a year in ensuing years. 

Harris, the NDP candidate in St. John’s East, says the idea is a national plan, likely with a separate card provided by the government in order to access the service, not through existing provincial health care coverage.

“The MCP program is provincial. That, eventually, involves a fair bit of negotiations with the provinces. In order to implement this quickly, it would start with a federal insurance program for dental care for families between $70,000 and $90,000 family income,” Harris said.

“We know young people trying to get jobs and work in this economy end up with part-time or short-term jobs with no access to benefits. This will be important to them."

Harris’s opponents in the riding are Liberal incumbent Nick Whalen and Conservative candidate Joedy Wall. 

The Liberals and Conservatives have not yet announced any similar plans related to dental care in their national platforms. The two front-running parties are expected to release their full election platforms in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Green Party federal platform includes a commitment to expand health care coverage to include basic dental care. 

Anonsen, who is the NDP candidate in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, says the party is introducing a new program and choosing not to make existing workplace insurance programs more robust in order to cover those without a job and those without workplace benefits.

“Everybody doesn’t have a job that pays benefits. We’re losing them more and more. Precarious employment, no benefits, that’s becoming the norm. We need it to be not dependent on an employer,” she said. 

Anonsen’s opponents in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl are Liberal incumbent Seamus O’Regan, Conservative candidate Terry Martin and People’s Party of Canada candidate Ben Ruckpaul. 

david.maher@thetelegram.com

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