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Is a national pharmacare program on the way?

FILE - Prescription pills are shown in Toronto, Dec. 23, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

A UBC professor says the new government may have no choice but to bring in a pharmacare program

Steve Morgan says the new "progressive" minority in Ottawa is similar to the Liberal government of the 1960s

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†Decades of waiting may finally be over for supporters of a national pharmacare program, who believe Canada’s new minority government has no choice but to usher it in.

Steve Morgan, a health economist at the University of British Columbia, says the political climate is primed to make it happen, and Canadians are closer now than ever to having nation-wide pharmacare.

Morgan says the new “progressive” minority in Ottawa is similar to the Liberal government of the 1960s, which brought in universal healthcare.

“The biggest difference being now the Bloc having a considerable number of seats. They did not exist when medicare was brought into play,” he says.

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“Pearson was actually a minority of Parliament. The NDP held the balance of power and with that, they were able to do more than, in fact, the Liberal majority might have done on their own,” he says.

“I’ve never seen the political landscape be as well-aligned. Both the evidence, that is compelling, that we should move forward on this, but also the road map about how to move forward.”

The professor of health policy at UBC, who has been studying publicly-funded pharmacare for more than 20 years, says it also makes sense financially.

“The program will save Canadians billions of dollars more than it will cost government to run,” he says. “It will take negotiations with the provinces and it will take political will to cut a very big cheque.”

Morgan adds current estimates suggest the $15 billion cost would be cancelled out by $22 billion worth of savings every year.