Photo: Chad Hipolito The Canadian Press NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on November 19
Mickey Djuric – The Canadian Press in Edmonton
January 25, 2024
New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh says working with the Liberals on the bill to create a national pharmacare program was like trying to catch eels covered in oil.
At a town hall meeting in Edmonton, where NDP MPs are holding their pre-sessional retreat, Mr. Singh admitted Thursday that dealing with the Liberal government was “not much fun.” He believes that the liberals “do not keep their promises” and are evasive.
When the House of Commons resumes Monday, NDP MPs say they will continue to put pressure on the Liberal government to get this bill done — with Mr. Singh even calling it “the next big fight.”< /p>
As part of its agreement with the minority Liberals in Ottawa, the New Democratic Party (NDP) is calling for a national plan that would cover prescription drugs for Canadians.
A first draft of the bill was rejected by the New Democrats in September. Since then, other proposals have been exchanged between the two parties, but the NDP is not giving further details — it says it will not negotiate in public.
Mr. Singh told the town hall that he had borrowed the image of the elusive eel from his party's health critic, Don Davies, who was negotiating the framework bill with the government.
Mr. Davies said he would leave that picture with his leader, and is hopeful a bill will be introduced before the March 1 deadline — five weeks from now.
The NDP is currently awaiting a response to its latest proposal, said Mr. Davies, who plans to resume discussions with Health Minister Mark Holland next week.
The party said the government's first draft left the door open to a mixed public-private system in which the pharmaceutical industry would continue to make “huge profits”.
“We are struggling to find the right way to get prescription drugs to Canadians, and that is through our public system,” Mr. Davies said. “The NDP has been very clear on this. We have drawn a very clear line in the sand. »
Last October, delegates to the NDP political convention agreed to make pharmacare a sine qua non condition in their agreement of support and confidence with the Liberals. Activists voted for the party to withdraw its support for the Liberal government in key votes in the House if it does not get what it is asking for on this issue.
If the NDP withdrew from the agreement, it would not necessarily trigger a snap election: rather, the party would manage each vote in the Commons on merit.