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Federal NDP leader talks housing affordability, opioid crisis 

COVID-19 is one of a number of other crises that Canada is facing.

Those are the words of federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, who was on Vancouver Island today, campaigning with local provincial candidates.

“One of those is a housing crisis,” Singh said. “People can’t find a place to call home, it costs so much to rent, to buy, so what we need to do is invest in housing massively.”

He said the federal Liberal government has “abdicated its responsibility” in solving the housing affordability problem.

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“They’ve not invested, for decades, meaningfully in building affordable housing and that’s why we’re in a crisis right now. What we are pushing for is massive investments in building affordable housing, affordable rentals, cooperatives… we need to really build housing as a way to recover. It’ll create jobs. But it will also help us find affordable housing, if we build affordable housing.”

It’s not about simply spending money during a pandemic, Singh said, but making the right investments.

“I think when we build housing, we improve the quality of life, it’s going to improve affordability, and if we do it the right way, it can help us reduce emissions. If we build zero carbon or low carbon footprint buildings we reduce emissions, do our part to fight the climate crisis, as well as help us recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Meanwhile, Singh says average Canadians shouldn’t have to worry about having to foot the bill.

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“Those that have profited off the pandemic, the very wealthy, those at the very top who’ve seen massive record profits, they should be the ones paying for it.”

Singh says that’s why the federal NDP has proposed an excess profit tax.

“(It’s) similar to what was done in the world wars where companies that are making massive profits because of the pandemic, they should be taxed then, to contribute more.” 

Singh also touched on was the opioid crisis that’s gripping B.C.

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He said the best approach is compassion. 

“We have to ask ourselves: do we want to save lives? Do we want to save lives and help people? Then our response to the crisis has to be one that’s compassionate and based on the best evidence in terms of what’s going to save lives and help people out.”

Putting people dealing with addiction, mental health, and poverty in jail is not the answer, he added. 

“I think we should always put efforts in ensuring that dangerous substances are not in our community but we know that people who are dealing with this need help and support. I think that’s where we put our efforts, on the people who need it.”

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