Morneau 'not ruling out' a pharmacare election promise
Published Sunday, March 24, 2019 7:02AM EDT
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the government is “not ruling out” making national pharmacare an election promise.
He made the comment during an interview with Evan Solomon on CTV’s Question Period, on Sunday.
“[Pharmacare has] been, now, something we’ve been working on for more than a year and we’re making really important first steps,” Morneau said.
The government released its 2019 budget on Tuesday. Funds for the beginning of a pharmacare program were widely expected to be contained in the budget, but what the budget actually unveiled were only the very preliminary steps in that direction.
Among them was the creation of a Canadian Drug Agency tasked with determining a list of best-cost-per-value pharmaceuticals for Canadians and a national strategy for making drugs for rare diseases more affordable.
The seemingly lackluster pharmacare announcement sparked speculation that the Liberals might be setting national pharmacare aside until they can deploy it to tantalize voters in the fall election.
When Solomon pressed Morneau on the likelihood of spotting pharmacare on the Liberal Party’s 2019 election platform, he said “we’re not ruling that out.”
However, according to former Alberta premier Alison Redford, it’s easier said than done.
“Some of the issues that they tried to raise in the budget are very complicated issues that will take time to implement like pharmacare, that’s something that takes years to do, regardless of how quickly you want to do it. You have to negotiate with the provinces and that sort of thing,” Redford said.
That difficulty is reflected in the way the budget describes the government’s new Canadian Drug Agency. The Agency will work in collaboration with the provinces and territories to figure out how to lower the cost of drugs.
“Dealing with costs is critically important…we’ve started with the first really important step and there is more to do, but we’re going to get at that,” Morneau said.
First Home Incentive might leave room for CMHC profit
This freshly unveiled budget also revealed measures that the government claims will help young people to buy their first home.
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive will allow buyers -- who have the minimum down payment for a mortgage -- to finance 10 per cent on a new home or five per cent on an existing home through a shared equity mortgage with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The incentive is supposed to lower buyers’ monthly mortgage payments through the help of what the government has been describing as an interest-free loan.
However, Morneau hinted that the loan might not be what it seems.
When asked whether an increase in the equity value of a home would mean the CMHC gets more money back upon its sale, Morneau would not confirm that the amount owed would remain the same.
“We still have more work to do to make sure we get the terms and conditions -- that’s how shared equity mortgages work in the market,” he said. “There will be some sense of upside and downside for CMHC.”
With files from Rachel Aiello