FEDERAL NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Thursday announced that the NDP’s first bill will be a framework to make pharmacare coverage for all Canadians a reality.
In letters to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other opposition leaders, Singh offered to work with the other parties to ensure this bill, modelled off of the Canada Health Act, quickly becomes law so Canadians can finally get the pharmacare they’ve been promised for decades.
“For 23 years, the Liberals have promised pharmacare, but while they say the right words in public, behind closed doors they’re working hard to protect the profits of big pharmaceutical companies,” said Singh. “This legislation is a first step to making the implementation of pharmacare a reality. If Justin Trudeau’s Liberals actually want to help Canadian families, they can work with us and we can deliver the universal pharmacare plan people need.”
The New Democrats’ bill follows the recommendations set out in the government’s own Hoskins’ report and, like the Canadian Health Act, will lay out the necessary criteria for provinces to receive funding under the program. Once implemented, a proper pharmacare plan would be free for Canadians and would result in shorter wait times, free-up more hospital beds for those who need them, and save more than $4.2 billion.
The New Democrats point out that while Trudeau criticized Stephen Harper’s plan to cut health care transfers to the provinces, as Prime Minister, he has maintained the Conservatives’ cut. That’s why, in addition to asking the Liberals to work with New Democrats to bring in a national pharmacare program, New Democrats are calling on the Liberals to reverse those cuts and adequately fund healthcare.
“We’re the only country that has health care that does not include prescription drug coverage. The consequences of the Liberals’ refusal to keep their promise on this has real consequences. Right now, across this country, one in every five Canadians isn’t taking the medicine they need because of cost,” said Singh. “No Canadian should ever have to empty their wallet, rack up their credit card debt, or skip the care they need because of the cost.”