John Ivison: NDP’s universal pharmacare proposal seems a prime target for Liberal burglary


The NDP have been derided as “Liberals in a hurry” but who can blame them? If they don’t rush to market with their most ingenious ideas, the Liberals purloin them.

New Democrat leader, Jagmeet Singh, unveiled his party’s budget proposals at a press conference Tuesday, with a call to close tax loopholes for the “super-rich” and dedicate the savings to implement a universal pharmacare program.

The NDP had the proposal in their last election platform but it’s fair to say it was submerged by the universal day-care plan.

This time it looks as if Singh will go full throttle on cheaper drugs.

The risk, of course, is that the Liberals will call his bluff and actually implement the NDP recommendation.

“I’m concerned about making people’s lives better. And if we push and achieve that result, that would be an amazing thing for people,” he said – though obviously it would not be an amazing thing for Singh or his party.

But he may have tapped into something – the public mood seems primed for changes to the way Canadians pay for prescription drugs that rise in price by about five per cent annually.

It’s estimated that up to one in five families struggle to pay for drugs and Singh talked about seniors cutting their pills in two.

‘Battle for relevance’: Despite their flashy new leader, the NDP faces a long, hard road in 2018Jagmeet Singh picks up Justin Trudeau’s playbook in next battle for hearts of Canada’s leftNational pharmacare program would save $4.2 billion annually, budget officer finds

Canada is alone in having a public healthcare system that does not have a parallel public pharma plan.

The House of Commons health committee is set to release a major report on pharmacare next month, which sources suggest will recommend folding prescription drugs into a negotiated national formulary. Through an amendment to …read more

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