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HomeWorld NewsInternal Memo Indicates Decreased Support for Pharmacare if Associated with Tax Hikes

Internal Memo Indicates Decreased Support for Pharmacare if Associated with Tax Hikes

An internal Health Canada memo pertaining to universal drug coverage warns that Canadians are “sensitive to cost considerations” associated with pharmacare.

“Canadians are generally supportive of improving affordable access to prescription drugs but are also sensitive to cost considerations as government health-related expenses continue to grow, particularly in the context of Covid-19,” says the April 27 memo “Pharmacare,” according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

The memo mentioned that cabinet is working on drafting legislation for pharmacare, but provided no further details.

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The document cited a Fraser Institute poll from spring of last year in which 79 percent of Canadians supported no-strings universal national pharmacare. However, support plummeted by 39 percent when respondents were asked if they would support a GST hike to bankroll the program.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the program would cost $10.5 billion a year.

The NDP entered into a supply and confidence agreement with the minority Liberals in March last year to keep them in power until 2025, in exchange for investments in social programs.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has previously said the Liberals have agreed to implement pharmacare before the end of 2023, but stopped short of saying the deal would be in jeopardy if that doesn’t materialize.

“We’re using [our] power to force the Liberals to bring in pharmacare legislation as a first step to delivering free prescription medicine for all Canadians,” he said in a June statement.
Health Minister Mark Holland, who was tasked with the file following last month’s cabinet shuffle, says he’ll table the legislation in the House of Commons after it resumes sitting on Sept. 18, reported CBC News.

In June, Jean-Yves Duclos, Mr. Holland’s predecessor, warned the Dec. 31, 2023, deadline to implement pharmacare might be missed, citing the Liberal government’s minority status.

“This is a minority government,” Mr. Duclos told reporters at the time. “We don’t obviously control the House of Commons, but we’ll do all we can to be able to both table and to pass the bill by the end of this year.”

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