Liberals, NDP agree on birth control coverage as pharmacare deal nears deadline

Coverage for diabetes meds also under discussion

Liberals, NDP agree on birth control coverage as pharmacare deal nears deadline

Liberals, NDP continue pharmacare negotiations and try to parse the initial scope of drug coverage as March 1 deadline draws near.

The ongoing pharmacare discussions between the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) have reached a critical juncture, with the two parties trying to parse the initial scope of drug coverage.

Sources familiar with the negotiations told the Canadian Press that the parties are looking to launch the program with a limited number of drug categories as a preliminary step toward establishing a more comprehensive national pharmacare strategy.

They have reportedly agreed on including birth control in the initial coverage and are considering the addition of diabetes medications.

The minority government is under pressure to introduce pharmacare legislation by March 1 in order to maintain its alliance with the NDP and secure support for key parliamentary votes. The move is also a strategy to prevent a possible snap election before the scheduled federal election in fall 2025.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has expressed uncertainty about reaching a timely agreement.

“My sense right now is I don't know which way it's going,” he told reporters at a Tuesday press conference in Ottawa.

The NDP has insisted on legislation that commits to a single-payer, universal system, echoing recommendations from a Liberal-appointed advisory council in 2018.

An initial deadline had been set for the end of last year, but this was pushed back after the Liberals and the NDP failed to come to an agreement regarding the language of the bill.

Efforts to draft the bill have focused on establishing a framework conducive to the future implementation of a more comprehensive program, without committing to the significant financial outlay estimated at $40 billion annually.

Health Minister Mark Holland has been reticent on the negotiations but hints at progress toward a mutual understanding.

“I think we’re moving toward common ground,” he said Tuesday.

Several provinces, including British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario, already provide coverage for contraceptives through their provincial pharmacare programs.

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