April 25th, 2024

What are the next steps on the Liberals’ long road to a national drug plan?

By The Canadian Press on March 1, 2024.

The bill Health Minister Mark Holland tabled in the House of Commons Thursday is only the first step toward a possible pharmacare program. But the legislation does lay down a road map for how the federal government plans to get there. Holland rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA – The bill Health Minister Mark Holland tabled in the House of Commons Thursday is only the first step toward a possible pharmacare program.

But the legislation does lay down a road map for how the federal government plans to get there.

The first step is to negotiate universal coverage for birth control and diabetes drugs with provinces and territories – something he says he’s fairly certain he can accomplish by the next election.

The Liberal government drafted the legislation with the help of the NDP, and they staunchly support a single-payer, universal program that would cover prescription drugs for everyone with a valid health card.

The bill maps out more steps to get there, including getting experts to make recommendations on what the program should look like and how it should be paid for.

Holland says he’s not sure that’s where the government is heading, though, or when it will have the information needed to launch a wider program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2024.

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