Xtra: You’ve specified that your top priorities are entrepreneurship, health care and the environment. In these areas, what points of action are you taking to address issues that face the Canadian queer community?
Martin Singh: The party does a fantastic job of that already. I wouldn’t want to say as a leadership candidate that I have any particularly inspired policy [addressing queer issues] as the party’s policies are very much top notch and I wouldn’t want to subtract away from that. All NDP candidates are committed to these policies and equality rights.
For people that are unfamiliar with your campaign, how are you appealing to a wider spectrum of constituents, specifically focusing on queer issues?
Through my participation in the NDP, I have tried to address equality issues through my work as treasurer for the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health [formerly Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada]. Having worked at the Halifax Sexual Health Centre and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, both of these organizations are committed to addressing equality rights.
What is your focus on addressing Canadians’ accessibility to health care?
I want to make sure that all people have access to health care and that this crosses different kinds of lines – it is time for a national pharmacare plan. Many Canadians do get some form of coverage but for those who don’t have a job that compensates enough for a private health care plan; this is where we need a sustainable system.
I want to develop a national pharmacare plan that is accessible to Canadians – regardless of their economic, social or geographical situation. There are problems where people without coverage get caught in a no person’s land which makes it difficult for them – this touches on members of the queer community as well.
The plan I want to put in effect recommends a first dollar drug coverage, used in the pharmaceutical industry. The full cost of the specific drug will be covered by the national pharmacare plan – there are still dispensing fees that can be charged, given that it’s under provincial jurisdiction and the economic realities vary from province to province, but by providing first dollar coverage, this means that the total drug cost is covered.