Health ministers meeting in Winnipeg want national pharmacare, but who pays?
Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor is shown during the Conferences of Federal - Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg, Friday, June 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
WINNIPEG -- Canada's health ministers say they are moving closer to a national pharmacare program, but questions remain over who will pay for it and how broad it will be.
After meeting with her provincial counterparts on Friday, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said different models are being considered by an advisory council led by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, who spoke to the ministers.
"We certainly want (the council) to bring forward options that they want us to consider and then, from there, the issue of funding is going to be an absolute priority as well," Petitpas Taylor said.
Quebec's Gaetan Barrette said Hoskins outlined pharmacare options for the ministers. The advisory group is to report back in the fall.
"You can have a number of models that will have different levels of coverage, and you can have a number of funding models," Barrette said.
"(Hoskins) will come up with a model in September."
Newfoundland and Labrador's John Haggie said any pharmacare program must be funded in a consistent way by Ottawa. The federal government's share of overall health-care costs has dropped dramatically over the years -- to below 20 per cent from 50 per cent, he said.
Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter warned that the provinces will oppose pharmacare if Ottawa requires it under the Canada Health Act but does not help pay for it.
The ministers also discussed plans to raise awareness among young people about the effects of cannabis consumption and to combat the rising use of opioids.
Petitpas Taylor agreed to a request from Manitoba to use some of the opioid funding in the last federal budget to fight methamphetamines, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.
For the second consecutive day, Alberta's Sarah Hoffman stepped up to the microphone to say that any new health initiatives would be helped by the Trans Mountain pipeline project. The federal government agreed to buy the existing pipeline, expansion project and terminals from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion after the company threatened to walk away in April.
"All of these investments are about helping make life better for the people of our country, and increased investments are definitely a greater possibility when we have an increased economy," she said.