For the first time in a public-forum setting federal candidates vying for a seat in Ottawa for Saskatoon-West this fall had the chance to answer question straight from constituents with a focus on health care.
On Tuesday, Upstream held an all candidates forum for the Saskatoon-West riding, however the head table only featured two of the candidates on the ballot; NDP’s Sheri Benson and the Liberal’s Lisa Abbott.
Unable to attend, Glendon Toews with the Green Party had Saskatoon-Grasswood candidate Mark Bigland-Pritchard take his spot. Conservative candidate Randy Donauer was also a no-show, citing in an email that he has a campaign plan and plans on reaching as many people as he can whether it is on the doorstep or at public events and that he will follow through on his objective. Donauer did not specifically say why he did not attend the forum. Abbott called Donauer’s absence “disrespectful to consituents.”
Moderated by Upstream candidates focused the discussion around health care in Saskatoon and Canadawide.
Benson jumped on the question about early childhood care and education, adding child care isn’t affordable nor accessible in Saskatoon. Benson proposed a million daycare spaces for Saskatoon at the price point of $15 per day. Abbott responded by calling the NDP’s plan out-of-touch and over-the-top. Bigland-Pritchard said the Green Party proposed increasing the childcare tax credit to $1,500 each year for each child while supporting a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Taking questions from the audience of just over 100 people at the YMCA gym, candidates all agreed about the plan to introduce a national pharmacare plan to help low-income families and mostly seniors, gain access to the medication they need. Abbott said Canadians can’t retire comfortably calling the current national health strategy “unacceptable.”
The final question touched on the disparity between First Nations education and health care. While Abbott touted Justin Trudeau’s announcement last month of investing half-a-billion dollars into on-reserve education and infrastructure, Benson said the key is to put a plan into action “because this is an example of something we can’t wait on any longer.”
Voters will head to the polls on Oct. 19.