REGINA — NDP Leader Tom Mulcair went to a Liberal-held riding today to announce he plans to work with the provinces on universal prescription drug coverage — but the party is not classifying the promise as a national pharmacare plan.
Speaking in Regina this morning, Mulcair promised $2.6 billion over for four years with the goal of achieving universal access.
The NDP says it will also aim for a 30-per-cent average reduction in the cost of prescription drugs through bulk purchasing programs.
“With a national plan, we can drive down the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians and we can save provinces as much as $3 billion annually,” Mulcair said.
“I am a former provincial cabinet minister and I know, I’m confident that this kind of support will help the provinces and the provinces will welcome the direct aid that I am talking about.”
Provincial health ministers have been pressuring Ottawa to introduce a full-fledged national pharmacare program.
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, a family doctor, held a roundtable on the issue in June with provincial and territorial ministers, as well as academics and other experts.
Mulcair, who has rolled out a series of multibillion-dollar health-care announcements this week, held Friday’s event in the riding of Regina-Wascana.
It has been held by Liberal Ralph Goodale since 1993 and is one of two Prairie seats retained by the Grits in 2011.
The NDP did not manage to win a seat in Saskatchewan in the last election.
“I’ve made clear my vision for better health-care for all Canadians,” Mulcair told the crowd including former veteran NDP MP Lorne Nystrom.
Mulcair was in Calgary last night to face off with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper in the economic debate.
The event marked a crucial moment in the campaign as the main parties continue jockey for support in a tight three-way race leading up to Oct. 19.
Mulcair told reporters he “enjoyed” the debate.
“It allowed us to contrast the solid, long-term that the NDP has for the country with Justin Trudeau’s short-sighted approach and quite frankly Mr. Harper’s failed plan,” Mulcair said.
“That’s what Canadians got to observe.”