Health Minister Ted Flemming says an election promise by Premier David Alward to bring catastrophic drug coverage to New Brunswick by 2011 doesn't really count because it was only a verbal commitment.

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Health Minister Ted Flemming says the charter will empower Canadians with diabetes and their caregivers. (CBC)

In the 2010 election campaign, Alward said the catastrophic drug program would be operating within the year. Alward's Progressive Conservatives are now into the final year of their mandate and the drug program has yet to materialize.

"You can be sure that we will have it going within the year," said Alward in 2010.

Flemming said Alward's timeline wasn't in the PC platform document, so it's not a broken promise.

"And I'm looking at something that, in my world, doesn't say anything about one year," said Flemming, as he showed the platform document to reporters at the legislature Wednesday.

"If somebody, the premier, or otherwise, enthusiastically takes something as good as this and is optimistic about getting it in, and they don't quite meet their timelines, well as far as I'm concerned, that's no crime," said Flemming.

Flemming said the party's written platform said the program would be in place by the end of the government's mandate in 2014. Flemming says he'll meet that deadline.

Flemming said the program will provide drug coverage for people who don't have it, but they will have to pay a premium. Committees are still sorting through exactly how the program will work, he said.

Exactly which drugs will be covered by Flemming's plan remains up in the air.

The next provincial election is set for Sept. 22, 2014.