MP has questions about new federal pharmacare program

MP's pharmacare concerns

Regular readers of my column know I usually pose a question on a specific topic at the end of each column.

I want to express my gratitude to the many (readers) who take the time to share their thoughts and views on these questions. I read every comment and find the feedback invaluable in guiding my work on your behalf in Ottawa.

This week, I have an important question to discuss. But first, let me provide some background.

Recently, the Liberal and NDP “partnership” announced a deal for a federally-administered national pharmacare program. At the time of writing this column, the details were not publicly released, so the exact workings of this program are currently unknown.

However, we do possess some general information relevant to this topic.

Firstly, healthcare is a service provided at the provincial level. In British Columbia, we have the Fair PharmaCare program. This program assists with the cost of numerous prescription drugs and some medical supplies, such as insulin pumps, ostomy supplies, and certain prosthetics, based on income.

In Canada, many provinces offer provincial programs similar to the enhanced pharmacare coverage provided by companies like Pacific Blue Cross. These costs are often shared or entirely covered by the employer.

The Province of Quebec has already indicated it may (opt out of of the new) pharmacare program, raising the question of whether Quebec will have the right to withdraw with full financial compensation. Similar views were also expressed by the Province of Alberta.

One concern some people have is if a national pharmacare program is implemented, private sector employers might stop offering enhanced pharmacare benefits to their employees, leaving them to rely on the federal program instead.

This concern arises from the belief the federal program might not provide as generous benefits and could also be more expensive for taxpayers to maintain. Consider the $60 million that the Liberals spent developing the ArriveCan app, which is reportedly under an RCMP investigation.

The fact that the Information Commissioner is also investigating allegations of large amounts of deleted documents, suggests those concerns are well-founded.

Eight years ago, the government was advised by its consultants not to launch its new payroll system until all the issues were resolved. Despite investing more than $500 million, the Phoenix federal payroll program still pays some federal public servants inaccurately and inefficiently.

The truth is that despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government significantly increasing the size and cost of the federal public service since taking office, Canadians often do not receive better services. In fact, many Canadians have experienced a serious decline in services.

My primary concern is Canadians may end up with an inferior pharmacare plan that provides less coverage, costs more and establishes a huge new bureaucracy in Ottawa.

So, I have a few questions for you this week:

Do you already have Pharmacare coverage? If so, are you content with your current pharmacare coverage, or do you think a federal pharmacare plan would be beneficial to you? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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