© Aleksandar Karanov / Shutterstock
A number of constituents have inquired regarding NDP MP Peter Julian’s private-member’s Bill C-213, styled “An Act to enact the Canada Pharmacare Act.”
With this one Act, we were assured, we would finally achieve national universal Pharmacare.
If only it were that easy. If only passing a simple bill like this would bring Pharmacare to Canada! It won’t. It can’t. If only that were so, we would have done it long ago.
Implementing national universal Pharmacare requires careful work in willing partnership with the provinces and territories — as, ultimately, it is they who are responsible for actually delivering healthcare services, like Pharmacare. To succeed here it is imperative that we proceed in close partnership with those provinces and territories willing to do so.
Rather than offer any kind of success, rather than a collaborative partnership, Bill C-213 short-circuits the process with its top-down Ottawa-knows-best approach.
This bill was likely unconstitutional, allocated no money to the endeavour — and, by risking antagonizing the very provincial and territorial partners we need on board to achieve this goal, it was much more likely to impede progress than it was to move this important project forward. It was a mirage; political grandstanding, nothing more.
National universal Pharmacare is far too important to me, and to all Canadians for that. It can only succeed and endure if we have provincial and territorial buy-in, and only when we ensure that constitutional prerogatives are respected. That is why I could not support this bill.
I was a member of the Standing Committee on Health in the previous Parliament, as well as now. During our study on Pharmacare we heard from close to 100 witnesses and received over 30 briefs. The testimony made a strong case for national universal Pharmacare. Our report, tabled in 2018, contained 18 recommendations on how to implement this in Canada.
Our government also created, in 2018, a task force led by former Ontario Minister of Health, Dr. Eric Hoskins, which built upon this work and which filled-in the road map for the path forward.
And, indeed, since taking office in 2015 we have been assembling the building blocks for success: we implemented new rules for patented drugs that will reduce drug costs by over $13 billion; invested in a rare-disease strategy; and, to achieve economies of scale and leverage federal buying power, we created the National Drug Agency as a national buying agent based on creating, with the provinces and territories, a national formulary.
And, most importantly, we are working with willing provinces and territories to build a collective commitment to this essential improvement to our healthcare system. As required. In addition, achieving national universal Pharmacare was explicitly re-emphasized in our recent Speech from the Throne as one of our top priorities.
We are moving this forward in the right way. I will continue to support that, as I will continue to advocate and work for it.