An NDP government would bring Ontario universal pharmacare: Horwath
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)
NDP leader Andrea Horwath says she has the prescription for all that ails Ontario — universal pharmacare.
The leader of Ontario’s third party said Monday that if she’s elected premier in 2018, she would introduce the province’s first plan to cover drugs for the province’s 13.6 million citizens. That plan would cover 125 drugs and the NDP estimate it will cost $475 million a year.
The plan would be fully implemented by 2020.
Horwath said some Ontarians can’t afford to buy essential medications because they don’t have private health-care coverage.
“I don’t believe anybody in Ontario, or anybody in Canada frankly, should be in a position where they can’t afford to get the prescriptions filled that they need that would keep them healthy,” she said. “If a doctor is prescribing something, everybody should be able to get their prescriptions filled.”
Horwath says the NDP will pay for the plan with anticipated new government revenues in coming years. But if those don’t materialize, she would cut from another place in the government budget or introduce a “new revenue source” to pay for it. She would not say if that will be a new tax.
“We don’t want to see any kind of burden that’s going to unnecessarily create hardship for individuals or businesses,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can to avoid that.”
The NDP plan is based in part on the work of University of British Columbia economist Steve Morgan and his colleagues. The plan is “practical and important,” he said.
“(It) would provide reasonable coverage for a vast majority of Ontarians’ prescription drug needs,” he said. “Such a policy would mean that literally thousands of Ontarians of working age would be able to fill prescriptions that are currently out of reach financially.”
Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the Liberal government supports universal pharmacare but added that he hadn’t seen the NDP plan. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed at the national level, he said.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said he’d like to see the Liberal government shore up its six existing drug plans to help Ontarians.
“As for the NDP plan, just for once I’d like the NDP to say how they’re going to pay for something,” he said.
By the numbers:
•$475 million: Annual estimated cost of the NDP pharmacare plan.
•125: Number of drugs covered by the plan at launch.
•2020: projected year the plan would launch.
•$1.9 billion: Estimated savings to private insurers.
•2.2 million: Estimated number of Ontarians who have no coverage.