Canada social democrats demand universal drug plan to prop up Trudeau

Jagmeet Singh said Wednesday that his New Democratic Party (NDP) would prop up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government if he agrees to roll out a universal prescription drug plan.
Trudeau has ruled out a formal coalition, but the leftist NDP is closely aligned ideologically with his Liberals and together they hold enough sway in parliament to pass legislation and keep Trudeau's minority government afloat.
Drawing a line in the sand, Singh said the NDP would put forward a bill for "universal, publicly-delivered, single-payer pharmacare for all" and challenged the Liberals to support it.
"A lot of Canadians want to see this government work with other parties," he said. "They need to work with other parties. We're putting out some clear conditions."
The NDP campaigned on introducing universal drug coverage.
The Liberals have also taken steps in that direction, but proposed moving slower to curtail soaring drug costs and help millions who cannot afford their prescriptions.
Canada is the only country with universal health care that does not also provide universal coverage for prescription drugs.
According to government figures, Canadians spent Can$34 billion (U.S.$26 billion) on prescription medicines in 2018. On a per capita basis, only the United States and Switzerland spend more on medicines.
A government advisory council report released in June found that pharmacare's stronger negotiating power and lower administrative costs would save taxpayers an estimated Can$5 billion annually.
Speaking after meeting with his new caucus, Singh also urged the Liberals to drop their appeal of a human rights tribunal ruling that ordered the government to pay billions of dollars to indigenous children harmed by Canada's unequal funding of essential services and the child welfare system.

© 2019 AFP
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