"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Monday, October 15, 2007

Premier Lorne Calvert on a Universal Pharmacare Program

It's time to hear about this straight from the source:

Certainly Medicare has a proud history in Saskatchewan. We invented it.

We invented it because, in the words of the Greatest Canadian Tommy Douglas, we believed that healthcare is too important to come with a price tag attached.

We believe that it’s your health card that should determine the services you get under Medicare, not your credit card.

Friends, I was very proud, in the spring of this year, to vote in favour of a budget that had within it the single most important improvement to a provincial Medicare plan in this country in a generation, the Seniors Drug Plan.

We believed then and we believe now that no senior citizen in the province of Saskatchewan should ever have to make a decision about which prescription he or she is going to fill in any given month.

We believe that no senior citizen in the province of Saskatchewan should have to choose between filling a prescription and buying gift for a grandchild.

And so we capped the cost of prescription medications listed in the provincial formulary, for seniors, at $15 per prescription.

Our province’s seniors and elders, whose contributions to Saskatchewan are incalculable, are no longer required to make these types of choices.

But friends, we also know that you don’t have to be 65 years old or older to be burdened by high cost prescription drugs. There are times when those costs represent a severe burden, and a measurable deterioration of a person’s, or a family’s, quality of life.

There are cases when the costs associated with prescription drugs are truly catastrophic.

It’s interesting to note that my predecessor, Premier Romanow, in his 2002 report on the future of healthcare in Canada, which was commissioned by the federal government, called for a catastrophic drug transfer program that would enable provinces to offset the sometimes unmanageable drug costs of their citizens.

Premier Romanow repeated his call for nationally funded catastrophic drug coverage in November of last year.

The federal government, not surprisingly, didn’t hear him. But we did.

Friends, our mission is to make life better for Saskatchewan families. Our mission is to ensure that all Saskatchewan people benefit from our strong and prosperous economy.

Our mission is to preserve, strengthen, and lead Canada in the provision of publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare.

Today we take the next step.

Today, I am pleased to announce that an NDP government will introduce a Universal Drug Plan, modeled on the Seniors Drug Plan, effective July 1st, 2008—the 46th anniversary of Saskatchewan Medicare.

The Seniors’ Drug Plan works. Seniors and elders across Saskatchewan have repeatedly expressed their approval of the program to me personally.

The time has now come to extend those benefits to everyone in Saskatchewan so that a family’s ability to pay will no longer determine whether they get the prescription drugs they need.

Like the existing Seniors Drug Plan, the Universal Drug Plan will ensure that no one will pay more than $15 per prescription for drugs listed in the Saskatchewan formulary. If your prescription cost is less than $15 you will continue to pay the lower amount.

Friends, this program places Saskatchewan at the forefront of Medicare delivery in Canada, precisely where we belong, precisely where an NDP government will always insist on being.

We do not expect Brad Wall and the Sask Party to ever support such a program. They didn’t support the Seniors Drug Plan. They voted against the Seniors Drug Plan. They pay feeble lip service to the principles of Medicare itself.

Today’s announcement makes the choice in this election ever more clear.

It is a choice between a New Democratic Party dedicated to the principle that all Saskatchewan people should enjoy the benefits of our prosperous and growing economy, and a Sask Party made up of the philosophical heirs and political apprentices of those who have fought Medicare every step of the way since 1962.

We will deliver this program to the people of Saskatchewan, and this leadership to the people of Canada.

We will move forward together.

Thank you.

Days like this make me proud to be a New Democrat.