Party Leader James Beddome announced that if elected, Greens would push for a universal national pharmacare program and negotiate better drug prices.

“Canadians pay among the highest drug prices in the industrialized world,” said Beddome. “It’s long past time that we took action on moving towards a universal pharmacare program.”

Beddome said that 19% of Manitobans don’t fill or complete their prescriptions due to the high medications costs, according to a 2015 Angus Reid poll. The poll also shows that most Canadians support the development of a universal pharmacare program.

“It is time to take strong and determined action to bring down the cost of prescription drugs as other developed countries around the world have done,” said Beddome. 

Beddome pointed to other countries such as New Zealand that have successfully negotiated better drug prices directly with drug companies. 

“Canadians pay ten times the price New Zealanders pay for atorvastatin, a drug used for treating high cholesterol that is manufactured right here in Canada,” said Beddome. “Atorvastatin is one of six drugs that account for 20 per cent of drug costs in Canada. By negotiating the prices on those six drugs alone, we could save hundreds of millions of dollars for Manitobans.” 

Earlier this year, over 1200 health care and public policy experts signed an open letter that called for immediate action towards establishing a universal national pharmacare program. The letter also stated that such a program would result in savings of $5 billion annually, which is an average savings of $350 a year per family in Canada.

As Premier, Beddome said that he would immediately convene a first ministers meeting to establish an all-jurisdiction task force to figure out how a universal national pharmacare program could be implemented within two years.

 “It was by working together in a nonpartisan manner that Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance were established,” said Beddome. “By working together, we can ensure that everyone in Manitoba, and in Canada, are able to afford the medications they need.”