Coverage of birth control, diabetes medication part of Liberal-NDP pharmacare talks

The federal government is considering covering the costs of birth control and diabetes medication as part of a national pharmacare plan currently being negotiated between the NDP and the governing Liberals.

CBC News spoke to sources with direct knowledge of the talks who aren’t authorized to speak publicly. The details were first reported by the Globe and Mail.

Discussions between the two parties are ongoing and the wording of the proposed pharmacare legislation has yet to be finalized.

British Columbia already covers birth control for its residents and Manitoba recently announced it plans to do the same.

Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries provide free contraception. In France, residents aged 25 and over can get reimbursed for contraception.

The average diabetes patient pays about $25 a day for insulin, continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, says the B.C. Diabetes Foundation.

British Columbia already covers birth control for its residents and Manitoba recently announced it plans to do the same. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

The introduction of pharmacare legislation was a condition the NDP set when it joined the federal Liberals in a supply-and-confidence agreement in 2022. The agreement sees New Democrats support the minority government on key votes in the House of Commons to stave off an early election, in exchange for movement on NDP policy priorities.

The deal is slated to last until 2025 but the shape of pharmacare legislation appears to be a sticking point between the two parties.

The original supply-and-confidence agreement stipulated that legislation would have to be introduced by the end of 2023. That deadline was extended to March of this year as the parties tried to hammer out the details.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been trying to put pressure on the Liberals by threatening to walk away from the agreement if legislation isn’t tabled by March 1.

“If they break the agreement, they walk away from the agreement, there is nothing that they can expect from us then,” Singh said Tuesday. “We will negotiate every vote at a time.”

NDP health critic Don Davies has said that one of the last issues still outstanding in the bipartisan negotiations on pharmacare has to do with who pays for the medication — private and public insurers or the federal government as the sole price negotiator and buyer.

The New Democrats are pressing for a single-payer system, which they argue would get better results because as sole purchaser, the federal government could use bulk-buying to push down drug prices.

New Democrats say the Liberals have balked at adopting the single-payer model because of the cost, which could amount to billions of dollars.

“Up to now, they’ve not wanted to commit to single-payer,” Davies said Tuesday. “Of course, we’ve drawn a red line in the sand that we have to build on that system.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *