Momentum has been building for a national pharmacare program since a June meeting of provincial health ministers.
Canada’s new Health Minister, Jane Philpott, says she plans to be in touch with her provincial counterparts to begin the preliminary work of establishing a new health accord which, according to some health experts, could include at least the broad outlines of a national pharmacare program. The 2004 Health Accord expired March 31st, 2014 after the Harper government refused to renegotiate it.
So what can Canadians expect from their new federal government when it comes to making prescription drugs more affordable?
In contrast to other policy areas, the Liberal election platform planks on pharmacare were strikingly vague. According to the platform:
“We will improve access to necessary prescription medications. We will join provincial and territorial governments to negotiate better prices for prescription medications and to buy them in bulk – reducing the cost governments pay to purchase drugs.”
Not too many clues here as to where the new Trudeau government might end up on pharmacare. That said, Ontario’s Liberal government has been a strong provincial advocate for an aggressive approach to drug coverage and was extremely critical of the Harper government’s hands-off approach to the issue. Given the close ties between the two Liberal governments, most observers expect the new federal government to be active in future national pharmacare talks.
That next health ministers meeting is expected to take place on January 21-22, 2016 in Vancouver and federal health Minster Philpott has said she will be attending. Continue reading