It was a sea of orange as federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh's campaign bus rolled into a Little Avenue plaza this afternoon, much to the delight of a few dozen cheering, placard-holding supporters.
"This is awesome and the movement is building," Singh said moments after stepping off the bus. "Your energy and your passion, this is what it's all about. All of you I think would agree with me that for too long, governments in Ottawa, whether they be Liberal or whether they be Conservative, they've made life easier for the rich and harder for everyone else.
"But we are going to change that," added the 40-year-old party leader, to thunderous applause.
Singh touched on many issues that are critical in the Barrie area, including the opioid crisis and health-care.
Barrie has one of the worst opioid problems in the province and a supervised injection site has been proposed for a location on Mulcaster Street.
With the opioid crisis across Canada, "thousands of people are losing their lives," Singh said. "Everyone's got stories. It is a crisis. If thousands of people were dying because of an illness that came to Canada, there would be an immediate response.
"We've got to stop this and our current approach is not working," Singh added. "On Day 1 of a New Democratic government, we would declare a public health emergency, providing the funding to front-line health-care providers immediately."
Singh said using the justice system to tackle opioid use doesn't work.
"People who are dealing with addiction, poverty or mental health and who are dying don't need to be put in jail," he added. "They need to be put in rehab."
The NDP leader says the federal government needs to have policies directly linked to the goals they are trying to achieve.
"Our current response is actually continuing the problem, so we've got to change it," said Singh, adding an NDP government would provide more resources, such as supervised injection sites, to front-line workers.
Singh also recalled a story from his personal life where his father was going through "horrible" addiction.
"We were lucky that we were able to find a bed that was available at a rehab centre," he said. "Many families aren't lucky. Many people try to find a bed and they can't find a spot. That should never be the case. In our country, if someone needs rehab, they should be able to get it."
Singh touched on several health-related topics, which are a common concern for Canadians of all ages.
"Think about the costs in your life. Dental care costs a lot, medication costs a lot. I believe if we come together and we invest in programs that help each other out, we can build a better world," he said.
Currently in Ottawa, "they seem to make decisions that only help people at the top," Singh said. "They don't help out you and your family. We see here in Ontario with Mr. Ford, they cut the services that you need. That's what Conservatives do. The Liberals, they talk a nice game, but do they actually make your life better? They end up breaking promises and not really delivering the care that your family needs, because they're working for the very rich and the very powerful.
"I don't work for them. I work for you and I'm in it for you," he added.
Singh said dental care is also something on the minds of voters during this election.
"We've got a really bold plan," he said. "It may be something the insurance companies are not going to like, but the people are going to like. We know that there's 4.3 million Canadians that don't have coverage. Our plan would immediately cover those 4.3 million people."
Singh said the NDP could implement its dental plan within 100 days of taking office and "it would be life-changing."
The federal election is Oct. 21.