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LETTER: Why didn’t Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal MPs back pharmacare bill?

When the Canada Health Act was passed in 1984, the plan was for Ottawa to pay half of total health costs. This only reached a peak of 36 per cent in 1976-77, but is now down to about 21 per cent, writes Charles Shaver. - 123RF
Recent studies show that approximately 7.5 million Canadians have either no drug coverage or have inadequate coverage, a letter-writer observes. — 123RF Stock photo

Sadly and unfortunately, the minority Trudeau Liberal government killed Bill 213, the Canada Pharmacare Act on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The federal Liberals voted no after decades of them promising Canadians support for a national pharmacare program.

Like St. John’s East NDP MP Jack Harris and others, I am disappointed that Newfoundland and Labrador’s six Liberal MPs — Gudie Hutchings, Yvonne Jones, Ken McDonald, Seamus O’Regan, Churence Rogers and Scott Simms — chose to side with the government, the majority of the Conservative Opposition and the Bloc Québécois and opposed Bill 213. They couldn’t or wouldn’t rise above their self-vested partisan interests and join their two Liberal colleagues, Nathaniel Erskine Smith (Beaches-East York) and Wayne Long (Saint John-Rothesay) in supporting pharmacare here and now during these difficult COVID-19 pandemic times.

Are most Liberals mastering political doublespeak, broken pharmacare promises, hypocrisy, indecisiveness, dithering, and do-nothing or stalling tactics? Are they following the William Lyon Mackenzie King tradition of “Pharmacare if necessary, but not necessarily pharmacare?”

My Liberal friends, like John Abbott, Siobhan Coady, Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Lynn Hammond, Gemma Hickey, George Murphy and others have to realize you cannot have a political party that advocates for the need of pharmacare then turns around and opposes it at the same time! Speaking of the current provincial Liberal government, where do the Andrew Furey-John Haggie Liberals stand on national pharmacare?

Are most Liberals mastering political doublespeak, broken pharmacare promises, hypocrisy, indecisiveness, dithering, and do-nothing or stalling tactics?

Surely the Trudeau Liberal government realizes that many Canadians, especially those who through no fault of their own, lost not only their jobs but their medical benefits as well, are struggling to make ends meet and in a lot of cases, do without their life-saving or life-sustaining medications! Recent studies show that approximately 7.5 million Canadians have either no drug coverage or have inadequate coverage.

Dr. Eric Hoskin’s 2019 report, A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All, recommends that Canada, its provinces and territories implement the five principles of a national pharmacare system: public, portable, comprehensive, universal and accessible.

I am happy that the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union and the Canadian Labour Congress endorse national pharmacare. I hope other local, provincial and national non-profit organizations, like CMHA, COD, Empower Disability Centre, NLMA, Ostomy Canada, Diabetic Society, Community Sector Council’s Citizens Voice, and others — if they have not done so already — jump on board and advocate for and support a national pharmacare program.

Yes, our federal and provincial/territorial governments should take a more holistic approach in making pharmacare and dental care part of the Canadian public medicare system.

Edward Sawdon,
St. John’s


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