WATCH ABOVE: Stephen Harper’s home province has traditionally been a Conservative stronghold. But, that changed dramatically in the last provincial election. No one saw May’s NDP sweep coming and now there’s a sense Alberta might be ready for a change on a federal level too. Vassy Kapelos reports.
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is continuing a multibillion-dollar health spending spree ahead of the economic debate on Thursday in Calgary.
He is promising to establish a $100-million mental health innovation fund for children and youth.
Mulcair says the four-year fund would include $15 million a year for health- care providers and community mental health associations.
The NDP said it would also include $10 million a year for research and information-sharing among health care providers across the country.
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“Canada’s next prime minister will face significant challenges … among them, more than 6.7 million Canadians, including children, who are living with a mental health illness or mental health condition,” Mulcair said.
The NDP leader said addressing mental health issues early in life is important for families and the health-care system.
“Helping just one child with a mental illness can not only improve quality of life for that child, but also provide a lifetime of health-care savings that can be directed to helping others,” Mulcair said.
WATCH: Tom Mulcair says he’s not going to do what Stephen Harper did and he’s going to sit down with the provinces and territories to roll out their health care plan and get back to being partners with them.
Mulcair has been rolling out big-ticket spending promises this week on health.
WATCH: NDP leader Tom Mulcair aims to improve the mental health care system by establishing $100 million health innovation fund for children and youth with special emphasis for those in high risk communities.
They include a $40-million commitment for a national strategy on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, $500 million to build medical clinics and hire more health care professionals and $1.8 billion to expand home care and palliative services.
The NDP leader has faced pressure to explain how he plans to pay for his costly promises while maintaining his commitment to balance the books.
Mulcair says the NDP will put forward a financial breakdown ahead of Thursday’s debate in Calgary.
He is calling on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to do the same.
The NDP is hopeful about its electoral chances in Alberta, where voters flocked to support the provincial New Democrats and elect a majority government under Rachel Notley.
“People here in Alberta, and in Lethbridge in particular, are looking for another option,” Mulcair said.
Mulcair said he “loves nothing more” than being told that something is a fortress for the other parties.
“I remember in 2007 people thought I was foolhardy running in the Liberal fortress of Outremount in Quebec and we took it … I’ve been elected there three times now,” Mulcair said.
“Watch us go, people want change.”