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How much could the government's new pharmacare, dental promises cost?


The Liberal government’s deal with the NDP to keep them in power until 2025 comes with promises of a pair of health programs that estimates indicate could cost $13 billion combined per year.

While nothing is announced, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) costed the NDP’s pharmacare plan during the 2021 election at about $11 billion per year.

“We costed that in 2021 … which is barely more than six months ago, so I don’t think the cost would be that different now, if the same program parameters were applied now,” Yves Giroux, the parliamentary budget officer, told CTV News’ Power Play on Wednesday.

“We’re talking about $11 billion per year for a nationwide program that would provide coverage for pharmacare.”

Giroux said the provinces already providing some sort of pharmacare program could actually save money with the federal plan. In Quebec, Giroux said the savings would be “significant.”

“They’re already providing a program that is broadly similar to what we did cost in the last electoral campaign,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PBO costed a specific dental plan in 2020 at $4 billion in the first year and $1.8 billion per year after that.

The proposed plan, costed on a request from NDP MP Don Davies, would provide some level of dental care to uninsured Canadians with household incomes below $90,000.

“It’s something that would be quite expensive, because there’s about a third of Canadians who do not have any dental coverage, either provided by the government or their employer,” Giroux said.

The PBO found at the time that the plan would help about six million Canadians and that about 17 per cent of Canadians avoid the dentist because they don’t have the means to afford it.

The actual cost will not be known until the terms of the new plans are set, though some details are expected to emerge in next month’s federal budget.

"It depends on the exactly what type drug coverage and the type of copayment that is asked of individuals when they purchase their drugs,” Giroux said.

With files from CTV National News Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor




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