Andrea Horwath’s NDP will become the first Ontario party on Monday to unveil its full platform for the 2022 election campaign, with universal pharmacare as its centerpiece.
New Democrats will promise prescription drug coverage for all Ontarians if the party forms government after the June 2 election, CBC News has learned.
Constituent discourse on pharmacare emphasizes affordability, especially for people who don’t have pharmacare and have to pay for their medications. Various polls suggest that the rising cost of living will be a major concern during the Ontario election.
“Too many Ontarians are having to choose between filling their prescriptions or paying the bills,” read part of the party’s platform seen by CBC News.
“The Ontario NDP will act immediately to fast-track pharmacare so that all Ontarians have prescription drug coverage faster,” says the platform, which estimates the net cost of the program at $475 million.
Horwath is set to release the full NDP platform at an event in Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood on Monday morning.
At least 2.2 million Ontarians have no drug coverage, according to provincial government figureswith out-of-pocket drug expenditures totaling $2.5 billion a year.
“It’s not just a health issue, it’s a major affordability issue. It’s a convenient way to save money every month,” a New Democrat source told CBC News.
Currently, the province Ontario Drug Benefit Program covers the cost of prescription drugs for all seniors, regardless of income, as well as those receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program funding.
In 2017, the previous Liberal government introduced prescription drug coverage for everyone under the age of 25. Premier Doug Ford’s government canceled it in 2018 shortly after he took office.
The NDP’s promise of universal pharmacare for Ontario comes as the federal government sets timelines for moving to national pharmacare. The federal NDP’s deal to back Justin Trudeau’s government hinges in part on passing Canadian pharmacare legislation by the end of 2023 and a plan to buy drugs in bulk by June 2025.
“We have decided not to wait for a federal pharmacare program,” the Ontario NDP source said, adding that Horwath is “committed to playing an active role in the fight for this federal system.”
Source says bulk purchasing agreements explain why universal pharmacare would only cost the provincial government $475 million, despite an estimate that Ontarians pay five times as much out of pocket for prescription drugs .
Before the comprehensive provincial pharmacare program is up and running, a New Democrat government would immediately make some prescriptions free, including birth control — a commitment Horwath announced Thursday — as well as cancer drugs.
The NDP also included universal pharmacare in its 2018 election platform.
None of the other parties have said when they will release their full campaign platforms, although Steven Del Duca’s Liberals and Mike Schreiner’s Green Party have each unveiled several planks.
Meanwhile, Ford and his ministers have made billions of dollars in government announcements over the past few weeks, and many of them can be expected to be part of the Party’s re-election platform. curator from Ontario.