Politics

Singh promises national pharmacare by next year if elected

Jagmeet Singh is promising that an NDP government would make the implementation of a universal, single-payer pharmacare system a top priority.

Singh says plan would save average family $550 a year

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh responds to a question surrounded by health-care workers during a news conference in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Friday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Jagmeet Singh is promising an NDP government would make the implementation of a universal, single-payer pharmacare system a top priority.

If his party formed a government, Singh said, he would begin immediately working with provinces and territories to bring in a system sometime in 2022.

"It's going to be good for our health-care system," Singh said during a campaign stop in Thunder Bay, Ont.

"People won't get sick because they couldn't get the medication they needed, people won't get even worse because they couldn't maintain their health."

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When pressed by reporters on how he would get the provinces to sign onto his plan, Singh was light on details but committed to partnering with provincial and territorial governments.

"We'd work with provinces and territories, I know it's going to be hard work, but it's going to save families money," he said.

Singh said the provinces would also be able to save money, pointing to a 2017 parliamentary budget officer report that estimates a national phrarmacare plan could save Canada $4.2 billion a year.

The NDP is committing to an annual $10 billion investment to establish the national pharmacare system, a promise recycled from their 2019 election platform.

Singh said their program would save the average Canadian family $550 a year.

The Liberal budget released in March committed to funding $500 million to cover high-cost drugs for rare diseases, while the Conservative platform includes a pledge to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry to bring down prices.

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