Ottawa unveils advisory panel on pharmacare

The Canadian Press
Janice Dickson

OTTAWA–The Liberal government has unveiled a six-member advisory council that will consult Canadians and inform plans for a national pharmacare program–but it offered few details on the process yesterday, including when consultations officially get underway.
Health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced the creation of the new group alongside the advisory council’s chair, former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins.
“I’ve already had the opportunity to meet individually with most of the provincial and territorial ministers, and I’m pleased to say that the reaction to date has been quite positive,” Hoskins told a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons.
“I would describe their reaction as cautiously optimistic and welcoming the work of the council.”
The advisory council will spend the next few months consulting with provinces, territories, indigenous leaders, health experts, and Canadians.
Its final report is due next spring and will provide the government with recommendations on how to implement a national pharmacare program.
Petitpas Taylor wouldn’t say exactly when consultations would begin or how much time the council would have before turning their attention to the report.
She said she’s spoken with council members, who will be “getting a work plan together” and will “be hitting the ground running.”
In the coming weeks, Canadians will be invited to share their views on pharmacare through an online questionnaire and via written submissions.
After that, the council will meet with Canadians, health-care experts, patients, stakeholders, and provincial, territorial, and indigenous leaders across Canada.
Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said he hopes the council will set up town hall events and allow Canadians to share their stories in person.
He said his organization, which has advocated for a national pharmacare program, is hoping to hear more details, and welcomed the timing of the final report since it will coincide nicely with the 2019 election.
“Mark my words, like it or not, this will be an election issue,” Yussuff said.