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Sunday, September 26, 2021

NDP stresses universal pharmacare pledge, looking to distinguish party from Liberals

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THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Jagmeet Singh says a New Democrat government would aim to implement universal pharmacare, starting next year.

At a campaign stop today in Thunder Bay, Ont., the New Democrat leader said millions of Canadians can’t afford the medication they need, and that his plan would save an average family $550 per year.

Singh states that he would negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies and work with the provinces to make prescription drugs free, saying this would save money for provincial health systems and for employers who provide employee benefits.

The NDP promise with no price tag attached is part of a sweeping pledge to create national plans for dental and mental health care, and seeks to distinguish New Democrats from a Liberal party that has stressed similar issues and included pharmacare in its platform as far back as 1997.

Singh has pointed to NDP moves in the House that were opposed by Liberal and Tory MPs over the past year, including a private member’s bill to usher in universal drug coverage and a motion to abolish for-profit long-term care.

The Conservatives’ platform says they will negotiate constructively with the industry to cut drug prices while the Liberal budget in April repeated the government’s 2019 pledge of $500 million for a program covering high-cost drugs for rare diseases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2021.

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