Ontario Liberals would make prescription drugs free for people 65 and older

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promised on Tuesday that her Liberal party would make prescription drugs free for people 65 and over if they form the province's next government.

Move would take effect Aug. 1, 2019 if Liberals win next provincial election

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promised on Tuesday that the provincial Liberal party would make prescription drugs free for people 65 and over if elected again in June. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promised on Tuesday that the provincial Liberal party would make prescription drugs free for people 65 and over if elected again in June.

"It's going to be one less thing that people have to worry about," Wynne told reporters at the Leaside Curling Club in Toronto.

Wynne said more than 4,400 prescription drugs would be available free of charge to seniors through an expansion of the government's OHIP+ program.

The expansion would take effect on Aug. 1, 2019. Ontario goes to the polls on June 7 this year.

Wynne said residents aged 65 or older would no longer have to pay a deductible or co-payment and would be able to present an eligible prescription and OHIP number at any Ontario pharmacy and receive their medication for free. 

Move would save average senior $240 a year

She said the move would save people 65 years old and over an average of $240 a year.

In a news release, the provincial government said prescription drugs covered by the program would include medications for cholesterol, hypertension, thyroid conditions, diabetes and asthma. 
Wynne said the expansion of OHIP+ would eliminate the program's deductible and co-payments for seniors, making medications free for people 65 and older who are insured by OHIP. (iStock)

Currently, people 65 and over are eligible for prescription drug coverage through the Ontario Drug Benefit program, which requires seniors to pay deductibles and co-payments based on income and other factors. 

Wynne said the expansion of OHIP+ would eliminate the program's deductible and co-payments for seniors, making medications free for people 65 and older who are insured by OHIP.

Cost would be $575M by 2020-21

According to the news release, a Liberal government would spend $575 million by 2020-21 to expand the free prescription drug program to seniors.

Wynne said the party is making this promise because health care costs can cause anxiety and stress for seniors living on fixed incomes and the government needs to do more to help to provide support.

"Providing prescription drugs at no cost for millions of seniors is going to make life more affordable and help seniors stay healthy and independent," she said in the release.

"It is the right thing to do for seniors and their families."

Cuts to hospital wait times, lower child-care costs and expanded mental-health services. The Ontario Liberals are promising a lot in the lead up to the June election, including a surprise deficit. Matt Galloway speaks to premier Kathleen Wynne. 15:08