Local NDP candidates were promoting the party's health-care plan Friday as the marathon federal election campaign heads into the final weekend.
At a news conference held outside Health Sciences North, Sudbury hopeful Paul Loewenberg said it's something that's top of mind as they canvass voters.
"As the campaign comes to a close, we're hearing more and more from voters about their worries about health care," Loewenberg said. "Long waits at the emergency and long waits at clinics. You've got bed closures in North Bay, and that's going to mean bed closures and tightening of resources here in Sudbury.
“We want the voters to know that we have heard them. The NDP plan will bring tangible benefits to families here in Sudbury and across Northern Ontario."
The party's plan includes funding to hire 7,000 more doctors and other health professionals and 200 more clinics, which Loewenberg said will benefit as many as five million Canadians.
"The NDP pharmacare plan will lead to an average of 30-per-cent reduction in the cost of prescription medication for Northern Ontarians,” he said. “That means we're an active player with the provinces to make sure that we drive the prices down by engaging all of the provinces together with the federal government around the table.
"My message to voters in Sudbury is simple. Elect New Democrats and we will fight for better health care for you and your family."
Claude Gravelle, who's running in Nickel Belt, said demographics in his riding make health care a major priority.
"Nickel Belt consists of a lot of seniors and we use the health-care system quite frequently,” Gravelle said. "The NDP will expand home care for 41,000 more seniors, and as you know, the best place to keep seniors is at home when they are ill. It's cost-effective as opposed to keeping them in long-term care facilities or here at the hospital."
For seniors too ill to remain at home, Gravelle said an NDP government would help the provinces create 5,000 more nursing home beds, and the party will help terminally ill patients, too.
"We want to improve access to palliative care and end-of-life resources and support,” he said. “Again, if we're going to keep seniors in their homes, we have to improve our palliative care efforts right across Canada.
"It's very important we allow our seniors to die with dignity."
Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said a Health Quality Ontario report that came out Wednesday showed a shortage of health-care clinics and family doctors in the area means that far more people here are forced to go to the emergency room for non-urgent issues.
Boosting access to family doctors and clinics will help ease pressure on the hospital, Gélinas said.
"We can now read in black and white how the specific issues in health care in Sudbury will be helped by the NDP federal plan," she said. "The NDP plan is a good plan for the people throughout northeastern Ontario, but particularly Sudbury and Nickel Belt."
While having a medical school in Sudbury has improved the situation in the North, Gélinas said many people still have to wait a long time for an appointment, meaning they turn to the hospital instead.
“If people have to wait three weeks down the road, forget it – they end up in emerg," she said. "We're talking people with asthma, people with COPD, people with chronic heart failure."
Voters across Canada go to the polls Monday. Polls show the NDP third behind the Liberals and Conservatives in what is expected to be a minority government.