N.L. finance minister encouraged by pharmacare pledge in federal budget

Newfoundland and Labrador's finance minister likes what he hears so far in the 2018 federal budget unveiled Tuesday.
Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Tom Osborne says his department is still examining the federal budget to see how things will affect the province but he likes some of what he's seen so far. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's finance minister likes what he hears so far in the 2018 federal budget unveiled Tuesday.

Tom Osborne said that his department is still assessing the numbers, but he's encouraged by new parental leave, as well as a pledge for a national pharmacare program.

The fact that we're getting closer to [pharmacare] possibly becoming a reality is good news for this province.- Tom Osborne

"Based on what's been put out so far, the pharmacare program, the fact that we're getting closer to that possibly becoming a reality is good news for this province, especially with our demographics, our aging population," he said.

"So we look forward to further collaboration with the federal government on pharmacare to see exactly what it means and how it will benefit the people of this province."

Important to know costs

Information on costs will be important, he said.

"Whenever we have shared provincial-federal dollars, or federal announcements, there's always a bill to the province at the end of the day. So once we get the full analysis of what that means, we'll be in a better position to understand what the province's responsibilities are."

The province has its own drug program in the absence of a national one, he noted.

"The costs to this province are significant at the moment. A federal program may ease some of those costs."

Gender-based spending analysis

Asked if the provincial government would consider doing a gender-based analysis on spending for its own budget, as federal departments were required to do, Osborne said Newfoundland and Labrador would be open to it, but the government will be bringing down its own budget in four or five weeks

"I don't know what type of work we can get done in time for this year's budget, but a gender analysis is something that we would absolutely be interested in looking at in terms of the workforce in this province and what it means to the province."