NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is again saying he could pull support for the federal government if a deal is not reached on universal pharmacare in less than a month but adds the NDP could still go “vote to vote” on supporting policies.
The New Democrats are propping up the Liberal minority government and keeping it in power until next year through their supply and confidence agreement.
As part of that deal, the Liberals agreed to pass the Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of 2023. The New Democrats extended the deadline until March 1.
But the NDP leader said that as of his last meeting with the prime minister, he has not gotten “clear assurances this would be resolved” by then.
“My sense is I don’t know which way it’s going,” he told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa.
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If the Liberals don’t live up to their end of their bargain, Singh insists their supply and confidence agreement will be over, a threat he has made before.
“We are not in any way required to continue to provide any support if they break their side of the agreement.”
But Singh stopped short of threatening to trigger a federal election over a missed deadline.
“There’s lots of alternatives,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t find other ways to pass other bills we support.
“We’ll go vote to vote.”
Last week Health Minister Mark Holland said the NDP needs to appreciate the challenging financial reality the federal government finds itself in.
“We can’t afford this to be a massively expensive program. We’re not in a time where the fiscal framework can absorb massive costs. And so that absolutely is a consideration,” Holland said.
An estimate from the parliamentary budget officer pegged the cost of a national pharmacare program at $38.9 billion over the next four years.
Singh said he doesn’t expect money to be flowing immediately but wants to see legislation that lays the “foundation” for a deal.
— with files from David Baxter and Mackenzie Gray
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