Federal NDP seeks provincial support for national pharmacare plan


OTTAWA — The New Democrats are asking the provinces to support their promised universal pharmacare legislation, hoping to win premiers over by calling on Ottawa to increase federal health transfers.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote to every premier in Canada Wednesday to outline the party’s plan and ask for their buy-in, which would be crucial to any universal pharmacare legislation moving ahead.

The letter says the NDP’s pharmacare plan will freeze drug prices, which would free up room in provincial health-care budgets.

The NDP is set to table a private member’s bill to implement pharmacare — to be modeled on the Canada Health Act — before the end of the month.

The party has promised its proposed plan would make prescription drugs free to Canadians, shorten emergency wait times and save $5 billion per year.

In December, provincial and territorial premiers expressed hesitation about a national drug program, with some saying they would rather see increased funding to address things like hospital overcrowding and growing wait times.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press