Liberals shameful vote against pharmacare is another unacceptable broken promise with Canadians

By yesterday voting against pharmacare, Liberals have once again broken a promise, betraying Canadians to put corporate interests first. 

Tom Parkin, CNC Opinion

For decades, at each election, the federal Liberals promised to create a national pharmacare plan. Yesterday, the Justin Trudeau Liberals maintained their unacceptable 30-year record of breaking their promise to Canadians.

In a House of Commons vote on NDP MP Peter Julian’s motion to legally commit the Liberals to establish pharmacare, all but two Liberal MPs – and all Ministers, including the prime minister himself – voted to reject pharmacare.

Report after report shows a universal, single-payer pharma plan would ensure every Canadian has drug plan coverage. It would eliminate the burden of paying drug benefit plans from Canadians businesses – and still save billions of dollars from what we are now paying for prescriptions medicines.

But more important than the economic case, an unknown number of Canadians are skipping doses, splitting pills or just not filling prescriptions – because they can’t afford the medicines their doctor prescribes for them.

Speak to anyone who works at a pharmacy. Ask about the tears of frustration, anger and sorrow they witness when an uninsured Canadian sees the price tag of the medicines they need.

A report from the Canadian Federation of Nurse Unions estimated, each year, about 640 Canadians die because they can’t afford their prescribed medicines.

The Liberals’ vote yesterday was cold and heartless. This is a government that went to obscene lengths to stop a corporate corruption trial. It throws billions in tax cuts and subsidies at businesses. It is spending $20 billion or more to build a single pipeline for a dying industry.

This Liberal government has infinite largess when private interests need help through their troubles. But for poor and working class Canadians’ facing health troubles, the vote is no.

In the election held only a year and half ago, the Liberal platform promised “to implement national universal pharmacare so that all Canadians have the drug coverage they need at an affordable price.”

And from every perspective, a national and universal pharmcare plan makes sense – except the perspective of the big global pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

But big pharma and insurance interests have lobbied intensely to prevent Canadians from improving their health and saving money. The opposition NDP says lobbying records show those private interests met with Liberals almost 900 times.

And again yesterday the Trudeau Liberals backed those corporate interests at the expense of the Canadian people.

Once again, Liberals have demonstrated they will not undo crippling prices imposed by corporations or make Canadians’ health their priority. This is a meek and obsequious government, happy to float in the flow of corporate support, talking a good game and quick to make promises, but unwilling to keep them when the conflict with corporate interests.

Yesterday’s vote was a shameful display. Canadians deserve a government that works for them and whenever the next election comes, they should use their power to get one.


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