OTTAWA – As the third wave of the pandemic rages on, Canadians are depending on public healthcare as never before. COVID-19 has revealed serious gaps and long-standing problems in our healthcare system that New Democrats say Budget 2021 failed to address.
“For two decades Canadians struggling with the cost of medication have been promised a pharmacare program. Instead of taking bold action, the Liberals keep breaking their promises and making people wait,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “Millions of Canadians are without affordable prescription drug coverage and even more people lose their jobs and benefits every week because of COVID-19. At a time when the need is so great, it’s inexcusable that the Liberals refuse to get Canadians the affordable life-saving medicines they need.”
New Democrats have repeatedly asked the federal government to establish a public drug manufacturer in Canada to address the vaccine shortage. But the Liberals continue to put the interests of multinational pharmaceutical companies and foreign governments ahead of Canadians’ health.
“The pandemic has really exposed the gaps that have long existed in our health care system and the Liberals have missed an opportunity to address these issues,” said NDP health critic Don Davies. “Pharmacare is the most glaring example but they haven’t secured our ability to produce vaccines here in Canada or introduced binding national standards to fix the dire situation in long-term care facilities. People deserve better than Liberal inaction when it comes to our health.”
Davies also pointed out that the Liberals still aren’t taking the action necessary to effectively address the opioid crisis and protect vulnerable Canadians struggling with addiction.
“The financial strain and isolation caused by the pandemic have worsened the opioid crisis for Canadians. The government needs to follow public health experts’ advice and move toward a health-based approach to substance use. This means decriminalizing personal possession, establishing a regulated source of safe supply and adding significant new federal funding to ensure universal access to treatment through our public healthcare system,” added Davies.
New Democrats are also repeating their call for the federal government to increase the health care transfers to the provinces and territories and provide stable, predictable and long-term funding to resolve serious professional shortages and the backlog of delayed surgeries and tests created by the COVID-19 pandemic.