If Liberals need more time on pharmacare , NDP says it will demand ‘more results’

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Published November 27, 2023 at 7:33 pm

OTTAWA — The NDP says there’s still enough time for the Liberals to meet their deadline for introducing pharmacare legislation, but if the government needs more time, their legislative dance partners are expecting more results.

NDP spokesperson Alana Cahill says her party was “very clear” that the Liberals’ first draft of a pharmacare bill “missed the mark” and didn’t guarantee coverage for everyone.

The parties’ supply-and-confidence agreement requires a Canada Pharmacare Act to be passed before the end of this year, though it doesn’t stipulate that an actual program be up and running any time soon.

There are less than three weeks’ worth of sittings before the House of Commons rises for a winter break, making it next to impossible to introduce and pass a bill before that deadline.

But Cahill says there could still be enough time to do it, and talks are ongoing.

New Democrats passed an emergency resolution at a policy convention earlier this fall saying the party should withdraw its support from the agreement if the Liberals don’t commit to a “universal, comprehensive and entirely public” pharmacare system.

The party’s national director, Anne McGrath, said at the time that getting a bill that has teeth would be her party’s biggest priority this fall.

Cahill says negotiations with the Liberals remain constructive.

“If more time is required, we expect more results for Canadians,” she said in a statement.

Health Minister Mark Holland suggested last week that the economic climate is one of the reasons negotiations with the NDP are taking so long.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland released a fall economic statement last week that introduced new guardrails for the size of federal deficits going forward, with little room for new spending until 2027 at the earliest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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