Why N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod says he voted against the NDP pharmacare bill

·2 min read
MP Michael McLeod seen in the 2019 file photo. (Hilary Bird/CBC - image credit)
MP Michael McLeod seen in the 2019 file photo. (Hilary Bird/CBC - image credit)

Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod says the NDP motion to create a pharmacare program — which had the support of the territory's premier and cabinet — needs to have more consultation with provincial and territorial jurisdictions.

McLeod, along with most of the Liberal party, helped to shoot down the motion last week.

On Monday, he told Loren McGinnis, host of CBC North's The Trailbreaker, that while he supports a universal pharmacare program, the bill brought forward by the NDP would be imposing.

"Moving forward without consulting [the regions] would be the wrong way to go. You know, we're not going to get there by imposing criteria on provinces and territories without talking to them," he told CBC.

"Im certainly not going to support a bill that requires provinces and territories to negotiate with a gun to their head."

He says the bill, "without due consultation," can be seen as an "overreach without working with federal and provincial jurisdictions."

Liberals moving toward pharmacare, McLeod says

Last week, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told CBC the Liberal party voting down the NDP pharmacare bill signalled the government's unwillingness to move ahead with a plan for universally covered medication.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is seen during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 3.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is seen during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 3.

But McLeod says that's not the case.

"There's many, many next steps that have to happen. But things are moving forward," he said.

"Our government has stated very clearly that we're ready to go, we're ready to start talking with any jurisdiction that is ready to start those discussions and negotiations. I think it's going to be fairly easy for us to move forward in [the] Northwest Territories."

He says a pharmacare plan could cost up to $15 billion or more.

"We have to make sure it doesn't land on the taxpayers in Northwest Territories … we have to make sure that everybody's looked after," McLeod said.

He said most of the territory is already covered for medication coverage — around 75 to 80 per cent.

"The people that are not covered are the working poor, and some of the unemployed people … we need everybody to be on [the same] side to make it work. So we have our work cut out for us. But I think overall, Canadians want to see this happen," he said.

"We all agree that it's time to take that patchwork of pharmacare programs that are all over the place and make it universal. But, how we get there ... we have differences of opinion."

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