Health care top of mind in Sydney-Victoria election debate

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Five of the six candidates in the Sydney-Victoria constituency agree that health care is one of the biggest concerns of voters in next week’s federal election.

Asked during a debate in Sydney on Wednesday to name the three most pressing issues, most also said housing and the economy were important, but there were differences on other priorities.

The incumbent, Liberal Jaime Battiste, said that in addition to health care, the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the environment are important.

“If we don’t make the environment everyone’s first subject and think about it, we doom our children to have no future,” said Eskasoni First Nation lawyer and scholar. .

Battiste also said the Liberal Party intends to spend an additional $ 9 billion on health care and $ 1.2 billion on housing.

New Democratic candidate Jeff Ward has said that on the economy, the NDP pushed the Liberal minority government to double the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit. (Tom Ayers / CBC)

Jeff Ward of the Membertou First Nation said the New Democratic Party is also planning to spend money on housing and health care.

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Economically, Ward said the NDP pushed the minority Liberal government to increase emergency funding for those affected by the pandemic.

“When it came to [the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit], it was only $ 1,000, ”said the General Manager of Membertou Heritage Park. “We made it $ 2,000. I’m just saying. “

Eddie Orrell, who came close to around 1,300 votes to defeat Battiste in 2019, said the Conservatives would increase the health transfer payment to the provinces. (Tom Ayers / CBC)

Tory Eddie Orrell, physiotherapist and former MP for North Sydney, said he and his team knocked on more than 20,000 doors and voters worried about the shortage of doctors, long wait times and lack of health services.

“We’re going to increase the transfer payment for health care by six percent and we also have mental health and addictions as one of our big platforms,” he said.

Orrell, who ran against Battiste in 2019 and lost by around 1,300 votes, also said the Tories plan to spend more than $ 1 billion on housing and will create a million jobs in the economy. during the first year of government.

Marxist-Leninist candidate Nikki Boisvert says Canada must tax the rich and establish a universal basic income that people can live on. (Tom Ayers / CBC)

Nikki Boisvert, Marxist-Leninist Party candidate and freelance tattoo artist from Sydney, said investing in healthcare is crucial because when people are sick there is no economy.

She has also said repeatedly that Canadians need a sustainable Universal Basic Income (UBI) in order to lift people out of poverty and improve their health.

“Salaries have gone nowhere except for CEOs, except for the rich,” Boisvert said.

“We need to tax the rich and we need UBI, because at this point you are only growing an economy from the bottom up. Wealth is rising.

People’s Party of Canada candidate Ronald Barron said the government should cut immigration until health care and the economy are in better shape. (Tom Ayers / CBC)

People’s Party of Canada candidate Ronald Barron, an industrial mechanic from Sydney, called for increased equalization funding for municipalities and proposed the creation of a regional government for the five municipal units on the Island of Cape Town -Breton.

He was the only candidate who said he would push for exemption from vaccination warrants and suggested that immigration should be curtailed temporarily.

“When you take them in, they don’t have a doctor, they don’t have a place to live, they don’t have a job,” Barron said.

“It’s irresponsible to bring people in when you don’t have the infrastructure for them.”

Mark Embrett of the Green Party, who lives in Halifax and works for Nova Scotia Health, did not attend the debate.

The full debate, hosted by CBC Cape Breton and moderated by Cape Breton Morning Information host Steve Sutherland, is available online here.

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