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Federal NDP seeks provincial support for national pharmacare plan

Surrounded by caucus members, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with the media following the second day of caucus meetings in Ottawa on January 23, 2020. The NDP are asking for provincial support for the party's proposed universal pharmacare legislation in a letter to premiers, in the hopes of winning them over with a call for increased provincial health transfers. Party Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote to every Premier in the country Wednesday to outline the NDP's plan and ask for their buy in, which will be crucial if any universal pharmacare legislation is to move ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The New Democrats are asking the provinces to support their promised universal pharmacare legislation, hoping to win premiers over by calling on Ottawa to increase federal health transfers.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote to every premier in Canada Wednesday to outline the party’s plan and ask for their buy-in, which would be crucial to any universal pharmacare legislation moving ahead.

The letter says the NDP’s pharmacare plan will freeze drug prices, which would free up room in provincial health-care budgets.

The NDP is set to table a private member’s bill to implement pharmacare — to be modeled on the Canada Health Act — before the end of the month.

The party has promised its proposed plan would make prescription drugs free to Canadians, shorten emergency wait times and save $5 billion per year.

In December, provincial and territorial premiers expressed hesitation about a national drug program, with some saying they would rather see increased funding to address things like hospital overcrowding and growing wait times.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press