The NDP say their pharmacare plan could save the average Canadian without drug coverage more than $500 a year. (The Javorac/Flickr)

NDP unveils universal pharmacare plan, aims program delivery by the end of 2020

Party says plan would save families who don’t currently have private drug coverage an average $550 per year

The NDP is promising to bring in a universal and comprehensive national pharmacare program targeted to begin in 2020 if the party wins the next federal election.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced details of the pharmacare plan today with health critic Don Davies at an event in Coquitlam, B.C.

The party says the plan would see every Canadian covered for a list of prescription drugs determined by an arms-length group of experts that it says would be protected from industry and political pressure.

The party says the plan would save families who don’t currently have private drug coverage an average $550 per year and it would save employers about $600 per employee with extended health benefits

The legislation would be modeled on the Canada Health Act and provide an annual pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories, with provinces paying about 60 per cent of the total cost and the federal government providing the remaining 40 per cent.

Davies, who represents Vancouver Kingsway, says the cost to provinces will be about the same as they are paying now.

An analysis from the parliamentary budget officer says the total cost of a national pharmacare program would be $23.7 billion in 2020, representing a $4.2 billion savings each year over the current amount being spent on drugs in Canada.

Last week, Singh said an NDP government would expand the tax on investment profits as part of a package of measures aimed to pay for pharmacare, affordable child care and housing.

“Those measures would free up billions that would be available for this as well. The rest of financing would be a matter of discussion between the federal government and provinces and territories,” Davies said.

The federal government taxes 50 per cent of profits made on investments, also known as capital gains, but the NDP wants to increase that threshold — known as the inclusion rate — to 75 per cent. It says that would raise about $3 billion in revenue.

READ MORE: Canada needs new agency to oversee pharmacare program, panel says

The New Democrats have also talked about closing a stock-option loophole and cracking down on the use of bearer shares and foreign tax havens, which they say help the rich avoid paying their fair share of taxes to society.

In its budget last month, the Liberal government said Canada’s patchwork of drug coverage, which comprises more than 100 public programs and 100,000 private insurance plans, is not well equipped to handle the increasingly expensive drugs now coming to market.

Drug spending in Canada is expected to surpass $50 billion by 2028, an expert panel has found.

In the budget, the Liberals promised a new agency to negotiate prescription drug prices for Canadians to try and drive down costs, a move it billed as an “important step” on the path to an eventual national pharmacare plan. It also promised to build a national formulary and promised to spend $500 million a year, starting in 2022, to subsidize drugs that treat rare diseases.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke fitness facilities reopen to the public

Extra measures set in place to ensure user safety

VIDEO: Neighbours help Sidney woman mark 103rd birthday with surprise parade

Barbara Chorlton celebrates her ‘best birthday so far’

Racism is here too, say Victoria’s black community leaders

White Victorians have role to play in combatting systems of oppression, prejudice

Shortage of foreign workers costs Saanich Peninsula berry farmer thousands

Gobind Farms says hiring local has been difficult during pandemic

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read