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Government Stands Firm on Principles of Universal and Public Health Care

The House of Commons was on break this week. Over the next two weeks, expect a flurry of activity in federal politics with continued fallout from accusations of Chinese interference in Canadian elections, a long-overdue state visit by U.S. President Joe Biden, and the tabling of a federal budget that will bring a conclusion to the recently re-negotiated Canada Health Transfer.

On that, and more, here’s your weekly roundup. 

In the House 

  • The House of Commons was on break this week. It will return to Session on Monday, March 20.

At Committee

  • In the final meeting of the Standing Committee on Health prior to the break, the Committee agreed to undertake a study of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) and that the study will call as witnesses the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health; Matthew Herder, former member, PMPRB; Mélanie Bourassa Forcier, former acting chair, PMPRB; and Douglas Clark, former executive director, PMPRB.
  • The Standing Committee on Health will next meet on Tuesday, March 21, when it will hear from three additional witnesses on its study of children’s health and consider committee business.

Around Cabinet 

  • With Canada Health Transfer payments soon to be deposited by the federal government into the coffers of the provinces and territories, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was busy defending the Canada Health Act and levying penalties on some transfers due to evidence of Canadians paying out of pocket for medically necessary services, including the first-ever deductions under the Diagnostic Services Policy, in fiscal year 2020-21. In total, over $82 million will be deducted from health transfers to BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Under the Act, deductions may be reimbursed provided the province or territory implicated carries out a Reimbursement Action Plan to eliminate the patient charges and the circumstances that led to them.
  • With the upcoming federal budget set to confirm the re-negotiated Canada Health Transfer, Duclos also sent a message to his provincial and territorial colleagues reiterating their collective responsibility in ensuring Canadians’ ability to access medically necessary services without having to pay out of pocket, no matter where they live in the country or how care is delivered.

Around the Dominion

  • In Newfoundland, the provincial government has announced it will table its budget on Thursday, March 23.
  • In Alberta, it was announced that the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative, led by Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation in partnership with the University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute, has secured funding to build a new facility to produce new and critical medicines. The initiative leveraged $5.6 million in provincial funding from 2022 to secure over $80 million in additional federal funding to make the project a reality. 
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