Illusion of national pharmacare

Last week, I talked about the ongoing partnership between the Liberal Government and NDP. They have introduced a new bill that they claim would create a national pharma-care program that would be managed by the federal government.

I ended my report with the following question: “Do you already have Pharmacare coverage? If so, are you satisfied with your current Pharmacare coverage, or do you believe a federal Pharmacare plan would benefit you? Why or why not?”

I’m thankful to everyone who took the time to give detailed responses to this question as it helps me better understand the views of those I represent.

When I wrote the report last week, the details of the claimed national pharmacare plan from the Liberal/NDP partnership weren’t out yet.

Late last week, the Trudeau Liberal government introduced Bill C-64, “An Act respecting Pharmacare”, and I can now provide more information.

Most notably, the first part of the opening summary of Bill C-64 states: “This enactment sets out the principles that the Minister of Health is to consider when working towards the implementation of national universal pharmacare…”

This admission is important as it clarifies that this Bill does not establish a national pharmacare plan, contrary to what has been mistakenly reported by some media outlets.

Another noteworthy aspect is that Bill C-64 states: “The Minister may, if the Minister has entered into an agreement with a province or territory to do so, make payments to the province or territory in order to increase any existing public pharmacare coverage…”

This clause is notable as it explicitly indicates that funding could be provided directly to a province to enhance an existing provincially provided pharmacare program.

For provinces such as Quebec and Alberta, which have already expressed potential interest in opting out of a federal pharmacare plan, this clause could influence their decision.

Many people are asking which drugs will be covered and how this will work.

While Bill C-64 does not specify certain drugs, it does suggest that “prescription drugs and related products intended for contraception or the treatment of diabetes” would be the primary focus.

The proposal includes publishing a “pan-Canadian strategy regarding the appropriate use of prescription drugs and related products.” It also suggests creating a committee of experts to provide specific recommendations.

I find the latter point particularly interesting. The Liberal government frequently endorses pan-Canadian strategies. While these strategies often appear effective on paper, their practical application can yield different results.

For instance, the Liberals’ Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change has led to a federal carbon tax being imposed on some provinces against their will.

One province is now openly opposing the federal government on this issue. Another province was exempted from the national carbon tax, resulting in lower overall costs through a ‘cap and trade’ mechanism. Additionally, a carbon tax exemption on home heating oil was recently established, predominantly benefiting Atlantic Canada.

All these decisions are politically driven. Remember, Bill C-64 was a political promise resulting from the partnership between the Liberal and NDP parties to support Prime Minister Trudeau in this minority Parliament.

In my opinion, Bill C-64 seems to create the illusion of establishing a national pharma care program. This allows the Liberals and NDP to claim political cover for a promise they haven’t fulfilled.

Given that healthcare, and by extension pharmacare, continue to be provincially delivered services, I am concerned that this will introduce another expensive layer of bureaucracy in Ottawa, primarily for political reasons.

My question this week is as follows:

Do you support the establishment of this so-called national pharmacare program, or do you believe that existing provincial programs should remain the primary service delivery system? Why or why not? I can be reached at or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.