Pharmacare legislation is a step closer to introduction

Click to play video: 'Singh brushes off possible pharmacare opt-outs by some provinces'
Singh brushes off possible pharmacare opt-outs by some provinces
WATCH ABOVE: Singh brushes off possible pharmacare opt-outs by some provinces – Feb 26, 2024

Health Minister Mark Holland has put the pharmacare bill on the House of Commons notice paper, bringing one step closer the tabling of the long-awaited legislation and central piece in the government’s deal with the NDP.

This makes it possible to introduce the legislation on Thursday or Friday, as government bills need at least two days’ notice before they are introduced.

Government House leader Steve MacKinnon said on his way into Liberal caucus on Wednesday morning that he’s hopeful it will be introduced Thursday, as the deadline is Friday.

“Canadians can expect to see that we are taking a very positive first step toward a national pharmacare program,” MacKinnon told reporters before deferring further comment to Holland.

Originally, the pharmacare legislation deadline was the end of 2023, but it was extended to the end of February. In exchange, the NDP pushed for the coverage of contraception and diabetes medication in the first run of pharmacare.

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The NDP says this is included in the legislation and the bill intends to create a framework for a national, single-payer pharmacare program.

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While the government confirmed a deal has been reached, it is not sharing details at this point.

Click to play video: 'Why are Alberta, Quebec planning to opt out of national pharmacare?'
Why are Alberta, Quebec planning to opt out of national pharmacare?

Over the past few weeks as negotiations continued for a pharamcare deal, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh repeatedly said that if the deadline was missed, he’d consider the supply and confidence agreement broken.

While Singh said he didn’t have the intention of immediately triggering an election, he said the Liberals would no longer be able to count on NDP votes on confidence votes and they would assess whether to support each one on a case-by-case basis.

The legislation is already generating some pushback, as Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said on Sunday that her province intends to opt out of a national pharmacare program and would instead seek its share of per-capita funding in cash.

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Quebec also says it intends to opt out of the program.

On his way out of cabinet Tuesday, Holland said he would have preferred things did not leak out about what is in the pharmacare legislation, and it is creating confusion.

He added that he planned on calling his provincial and territorial counterparts before introducing the legislation to go over the details with them.

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