Question Period: National Pharmacare

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Hon. Andrew Cardozo: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, I wonder if you could update the chamber on the negotiations between the government and the New Democratic Party regarding a pharmacare program. The matter is in the news again in terms of the politics. I’m less concerned about the politics, and more interested in whether this thing is going to happen.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. My understanding is that discussions continue to be under way between the parties in the other place, and, as soon as there is an announcement, it will be made. Until then, I’m afraid I’m not in a position to share any information about the progress of those discussions.

Senator Cardozo: While I understand that negotiations take place in some level of secrecy, I would suggest that once there is an agreement, I think it’s very important to involve Canadians in the discussions — and certainly the stakeholders, the medical community, nurses, doctors, personal support workers and others. As with any public policy, if you go ahead without consulting and involving the population, sometimes it doesn’t work out very well. I would encourage you to encourage the government to engage Canadians on this topic as soon as possible.

Senator Gold: Thank you. In that regard, this chamber should be aware, as I think I’ve mentioned before, that the government is continuing their ongoing work with provincial and territorial partners through various initiatives, such as bulk purchasing, and through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance. It has already saved $3.4 billion on prescription drugs. The government is advancing the National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases, which will improve access.

Work is ongoing independent of or in parallel with discussions about national pharmacare.

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