Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday March 6, 2018
Feds downplay a universal pharmacare program
The federal government is reining in expectations for a new national pharmacare plan, saying it will be “fiscally responsible” in moving forward on a program to only fill existing gaps in drug coverage.
Tuesday’s budget revealed the government’s ambition to make national pharmacare a reality with the creation of an advisory council led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, who resigned his post as Ontario’s health minister to take on the new role.
The government’s goal is to ensure “all Canadians have access to pharmaceuticals,” federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday.
But as he launched efforts to publicize budget initiatives, Morneau sought to dial down expectations that the potential pharmacare program would completely replace existing public and private drug plans.
He even took pains to stress that the government is considering a “strategy,” not a “plan.”
“We recognize that we need a strategy to deal with the fact that not everyone has access and we do it in a way that is responsible, that deals with the gaps, that doesn’t throw out the system that we currently have,” Morneau said during a morning event hosted by the Economic Club of Canada.
“There are parts of the system that are working well. There are parts of the system that really aren’t working,” Morneau said, adding that about 1 million Canadians can’t afford the prescription drugs they need.
In the Commons, NDP MP Guy Caron accused the Liberals of foot-dragging, saying no further study of the idea is needed. “The time for universal pharmacare is now,” Caron said. (Source: Toronto Star)