NDP rejects Liberals’ draft pharmacare bill
The NDP’s Health Critic Don Davies says the federal government’s draft pharmacare legislation is not acceptable to his party. Speaking to iPolitics, Davies said the draft he was presented is, “not where we want it to be.”
Health Minister Mark Holland has had to go back and rework the proposed legislation, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon. The NDP made the passing of a Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of 2023 a central plank of its agreement with the minority Liberal government in exchange for the NDP’s support in Parliament.
Davies sounded surprised that the Liberals had produced such a poor draft of the widely anticipated legislation. “We’ve been very clear publicly, and in discussions with the Liberal government, what our requirements are in the bill,” Davies said.
The NDP re-introduced its own pharmacare plan as a private member’s bill in the summer, setting out a model for the government’s legislation.
At the time Davies told reporters the NDP bill, “is the framework for what a universal, single-payer pharmacare system should look like.” He added that it is based on the principles of the Canada Health Act and follows the recommendations of the government’s own Hoskins Advisory Council. “But the most critical elements are that the system be universal, comprehensive, and public.”
While Davies cannot reveal the specifics of the draft pharmacare bill he was shown, it is reasonable to assume the government has not been moving forward with a national universal, single-payer pharmacare program as the NDP prescribed.
The insurance and pharmaceutical industries have been lobbying the government for a fill-the-gaps approach on pharmacare, and former Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was especially sensitive to the demands of corporate interests.
Duclos was replaced by Mark Holland as Health Minister in the Cabinet shuffle over the summer. Now it’s Holland’s job to work with the NDP to gain their approval of the bill. If he is not successful, the Liberal-NDP agreement could be in jeopardy.
“We’re working with them to get there,” said Davies, noting that he and Holland have a good working relationship.