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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Liberals and New Democrats have a deal on pharmacare

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The federal Liberal government and the NDP have come to an agreement on pharmacare, clearing the way for the two parties to continue operating under the confidence-and-supply agreement that has helped keep the government in power over the past two years.

In an interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton Live airing Sunday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said weeks of talks between the two sides have produced draft legislation that will set out the framework for a national pharmacare program and, in the short term, new coverage for contraception and diabetes treatment.

A senior government source confirmed that an agreement had been reached.

"We've secured something really important, I would say really historic for Canadians. We're really excited about this," Singh said.

Under the terms of the confidence-and-supply agreement signed in March 2022, the Liberal government committed to passing legislation — a Canada Pharmacare Act — by the end of 2023, in exchange for NDP support on key votes in the House of Commons. In December, the parties agreed to push back the deadline to March.

As the new deadline approached, Singh's public pressure on the government became louder — and private grumbling and threats leaked out to reporters. Singh said Friday that, by including coverage for contraception and diabetes, the pharmacare agreement goes beyond the original terms of the deal between the two parties.

Singh said the legislation "clearly points to [a] single payer" system and includes references to the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation that sets out the terms under which the federal government agrees to fund medicare services in Canada.

"We've gotten a lot. And more important, people are going to get some real help," Singh said.

The Liberal-NDP deal is set to run until June 2025.

Speaking to reporters in Nova Scotia on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is "committed to moving forward on creating a framework for pharamcare, because in a wealthy country like Canada, nobody should have to choose between buying groceries or buying much-needed medication."

More to come ...