Freeland pledges pharmacare deal won’t jeopardize federal finances

By Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says pharmacare will not jeopardize Canada’s fiscal standing as the federal government intends to abide by the spending rules it pledged in the fall.

The NDP confirmed on Friday that it reached a deal on pharmacare with the Liberals, which would allow every Canadian with a health card to access free diabetes medication and birth control.

The coverage is to be included in the first piece of a national pharmacare program — a key pillar of the supply-and-confidence agreement between the two parties — with legislation expected to be introduced in the House of Commons this week.

Speaking to reporters at a Polish military base today, Freeland says her government is committed to investing in Canadians while remaining fiscally responsible, which means abiding by the spending rules it set out in the fall economic statement.

The federal government set out a goal to keep deficits below one per cent of GDP beginning in 2026-27 and to maintain the current fiscal year’s deficit at or below the spring budget projection of $40.1 billion.

It’s also aiming to lower the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2024-25 relative to the projection in the fall economic statement.

Health Minister Mark Holland has raised the cost of a future pharmacare program repeatedly as negotiations appeared to stall earlier this year.

A source close to the talks said the only outstanding issue at the negotiating table was what type of diabetes supplies should be covered.

Liberals made it clear they had about $800 million to spend for an initial program, said the source, who was granted anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the details of the closed talks.

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