Sunday, March 4, 2018

Star Readers Are Not Impressed

Star readers can spot a corrupt policy process when they see one, an acuity they make known as they opine on Bill Morneau's pharmacare plans:
Morneau’s unwise decision to backtrack pharmacare, Walkom, March 2

Every parent knows this: If you aren’t really going to take your kids to the zoo, don’t mention it at all.

When we heard details included in the Liberal’s budget this week, we were delighted. That evening’s conversation around our dining-room table with our adult children was animated and optimistic. One of the most exciting elements in the budget was the announcement of the government’s commitment to pharmacare.

Then, came Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s near-immediate dialing back: not a “plan” exactly, more of a “strategy,” and other weasely sounding words. What a colossal disappointment.

I reluctantly excused the Liberal’s backtrack from their promise to reform our electoral system. Please don’t let the pharmacare “promise” go the same way. We need to hear their clarification and recommitment — and soon. Just be straight with us. Are we going to the zoo or aren’t we?

Jeannie Mackintosh, St. Catherines, Ont.

I was even encouraged by the enlistment of former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, whose provincial government recently implemented a long-overdue pharmacare program, albeit one only covering residents under age 25. It was a start and I hoped that coverage would increase eventually to provide coverage for all.

My feelings of elation and hope were soon dashed when Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced it wouldn’t be universal but would amount to a patchwork of coverage, with some people included in the government plan and others not.

This is unacceptable. We don’t need some mish-mash of a program. Let’s do it right and make a universal plan and, as the research indicated, the overall cost to health care should see a reduction. Perhaps Australia’s government could advise how best to meet this goal.

Norah Downey, Midland, Ont.

Drug-policy experts were stunned. Canada is the only advanced country with a medicare system that lacks pharmacare. Canadians spend so much on drugs because we don’t have a pharmacare program: drug prices are too high and too many intermediaries like insurance companies and benefit consultants drain money from the system.

Morneau’s approach would leave all that waste in place. The obstacle is that every dollar wasted is somebody’s income and the affected industries — drug manufacturers, drug insurers and drug benefits managers — fight back.

The minister effectively pointed to a potential conflict of interest and then restricted the mandate of the advisory council. I hope the minister will step back and let the council do its work.

Kim Jarvi, Toronto


  1. They came with so much promise and inspired in us such hope and, with a few exceptions, here we are empty-handed. They knew that Canada needed big change. They knew we knew and they tailored their election campaign on promises to do what we knew was so badly needed. Then they walked away.

    I almost parted company with the Liberals in 1974 when Trudeau destroyed the PCs of Robert Stanfield and largely extinguished the NDP of David Lewis by attacking Stanfield's sinister plot to impose wage and price controls. Trudeau would get on stage with his sleeves rolled up in 'gunslinger' stance and yell "zap, you're frozen" to the anxious crowd. Labour abandoned the NDP and flocked to Trudeau as the only choice to save them from wage and price controls.

    When that election was over I managed to get back on with an extended vacation to the UK. Had a great time. I got back to Ottawa just in time to hear Trudeau impose wage and price controls. I was gutted. Did Canada really have to lose David Lewis' invaluable voice in the House of Commons for Trudeau's deception? Might we not have been better off with Bob Stanfield?

    Now we're again neck deep in Liberal cynicism and manipulation only this time it's become standard form, the way this Liberal government does business and treats once hopeful Canadians.

    Oh well. I wish I could say they were going to lose my vote but the LPC lost that well before Trudeau ascended to power.

    1. I share your profound sense of disappointment, Mound, as I harbored the same hopes you did when Team Trudeau was elected. I thought I had some basis for that hope, in that I assumed, given their time on the bench, the party would have taken a while to get back to its old arrogance and contempt. How wrong I was.