Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Pharmacy insurance: flexible NPD

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (File photo)

  • Laurence Martin (View profile)Laurence Martin
  • Daniel Thibeault (View profile)Daniel Thibeault

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At one minute to midnight before the deadline for the tabling and adoption in the Commons of a bill on drug insurance, a key commitment of the agreement between the Liberals and the New -democrats which should in principle materialize before the end of 2023, the New Democratic Party (NDP) could be flexible to avoid a breakdown of the agreement, according to what sources indicated to Radio-Canada .

Under this agreement, which also included the commitment to create a dental care program, Jagmeet Singh's NDP committed to supporting the Liberals in key votes in the House of Commons, in order to avoid early elections and ensure the survival of Justin Trudeau's minority government until 2025.

However, two sources familiar with the matter have indicated to Radio-Canada that the adoption of a bill on drug insurance by Christmas seems almost impossible, less than three weeks before the end of parliamentary work.

We count the days. I don't know how we could get a bill passed before the holidays.

A quote from A New Democrat aware of the discussions

According to Radio-Canada sources, given the imminence of the deadline, the NDP would be ready to throw ballast on its deadline to preserve the agreement – ​​information first reported by the Globe and Mail.

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The agreement between the NDP and the Liberal Party provides for the adoption of a bill on drug insurance by the end of parliamentary work.

In writing, the NDP's communications director, Alana Cahill, confirms that the door is open to a flexible timetable for drug insurance. Only requirement: if the date is postponed, expectations will be higher. If the Liberals need more time, she said, we expect more concrete results for Canadians.

That said, Alana Cahill maintains that an adoption before Christmas is still possible, according to her.

What is most important is to do [the bill] correctly, said New Democrat MP Charlie Angus upon his arrival in Parliament on Monday. Prescription drug insurance could be the largest investment in health care since the creation of our public plan, he added.

According to a senior Liberal source, the negotiations took longer than expected because the NDP came to the negotiating table with new demands.

The New Democrats have also indicated that the first draft of the bill, presented earlier this fall, did not meet their demands.

One of the problems raised: the legislative text did not mention a universal public system for all, which NDP activists requested and even adopted in a resolution at their party's convention in October. In such a scenario, private insurance plans would be excluded from the formula.

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Delegates voted unanimously to adopt an emergency resolution aimed at forcing the Liberal government to respect its commitments on drug insurance at the NDP convention in Hamilton, Ontario in October.

The NDP would be prepared for this public plan to initially include only a list of essential medications, but would like a clear timetable for extending it to other medications.

The Liberals have not specified whether they are in favor of the New Democrats' proposals, but, behind the scenes, the appetite for a very expensive and ambitious program seems quite weak.< /p>

The latest economic update from the Minister of Finance did not provide any amount for drug insurance. Furthermore, when the Liberals and New Democrats signed their agreement, they committed to only adopting a legislative framework, therefore a form of first step for drug insurance, and not to financing the program, as is the case. is the case for dental care.

But beyond the negotiations around the future bill, there is a broader political context which could explain the flexibility of the two partners.

The Liberals don't want elections, neither does the New Democratic Party, explains former NDP press secretary Farouk Karim. On the other hand, the Liberals understand well that they need the support of the NDP to stay in power, in particular through the agreement and because of the polls, he adds.

On the New Democratic side too, we are worried about the polls and we seem a little cautious about the idea of ​​a breakdown in the agreement which could plunge the country into elections. It does us no good to bring down the government and give power to the Conservatives, underlines an NDP source, well aware of the negotiations on drug insurance.

According to this NDP source, the agreement with Justin Trudeau's minority government allows Jagmeet Singh to make more gains than if he faced a majority Conservative government.

    < li class="border-gray300 light:border-gray300 dark:border-gray700 flex border-t border-solid py-4 children:w-full">Laurence Martin (View profile)Laurence MartinFollow
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