Jagmeet Singh announces plans for universal drug coverage

Haider Nayani / February 6th, 2019

Singh is preparing for a byelection in Burnaby-South.

Jagmeet Singh wants universal drug coverage for all Canadians. That was the key message communicated by the NDP leader at a press conference earlier today, ahead of a byelection in Burnaby.

The system would be single-payer, a financing model where all funding is provided by one entity, which in this case would be the Federal government.

Singh argued that a single payer system would lower the overall dollar amount Canadians are spending on drugs.

“A publicly delivered system is the most cost-effective way to do this. Canada is the third most expensive when it comes to the cost of prescription medication…it doesn’t allow us to have the combined buying power of all Canadians.” – Jagmeet Singh, NDP Leader

He acknowledged Canada as the one country in the world with universal healthcare, but not universal drug coverage.

Parts of the press conference were spent criticizing the Liberal government’s plans.

“The Liberals are proposing a patchwork system that will not help out all Canadians. It will certainly help out bay street companies, but it doesn’t help out all Canadians.” – Jagmeet Singh, NDP Leader

A patchwork system is one where funding is provided by a variety of private and public plans.

When asked how much the comprehensive universal drug coverage would cost, Singh did not provide a number, but said he was there to outline the NDP’s strategy more generally.

According to the Government of Canada over the past few years the proportion of overall healthcare costs spent on drugs have increased, surpassing the amount spent on physician remuneration. The Government says this is due to an uptick in the overall use of drugs and because newer more expensive medications are being rolled out.

With files from Carol Xu.

When it comes to total healthcare costs, the only thing that Canadians spend more money on than drugs, is hospitals. (news.ubc.ca)