Canada

Conservatives promise more health-care money, pharmacare program

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will build on an existing federal-provincial agreement on health care, including extra $3 billion

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will build on an existing federal-provincial agreement on health care, while adding an extra $2 billion-$3 billion a year to the system.

Harper said he would maintain the five-year, $34.8-billion health-care accord brokered last year by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the provinces.

The Conservatives would deliver an additional $2 billion-$3 billion per year over the next five years for general health care. The increase would come through transfer payments to the provinces, as long as the provinces agree the money must be spent on health care.

"We recognize more money has to come in" but the funding has to be negotiated with the provinces, he said.

The Conservatives would spend up to $800,000 per year for the next four years to set up a pharmacare program for people with catastrophic illnesses. Ottawa would pay for a person's drug costs when they topped $5,000 per year.

Drugs covered under the plan will be negotiated with the provinces.

"They may or may not like this model. This is the proposal we will take to them," he said.

Under a Conservative government, the role of private health care would not increase, he said.

"I believe, and the new Conservative party believes, that every Canadian should have timely access to quality health-care services regardless of ability to pay," said Harper.

"I strongly support universal health care."

The full costs will be available Saturday when the party releases its complete platform, said Harper.