fbpx
Connect with us

News

Labour union blasts Liberals for lack of pharmacare progress

Cabinet has pledged support for universal drug coverage in principle but twice voted down Commons motions to take steps to implement pharmacare.

mm

Published

on

The Liberal budget was a “major disappointment” when it came to pharmacare, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress told the Commons finance committee.

“People are struggling to access medication,” said Hassan Yussuff.

“We see this as a major disappointment. We will continue our effort.”

Blacklock’s Reporter said cabinet has pledged support for universal drug coverage in principle, but twice voted down Commons motions to take steps to implement pharmacare, and outlined no new proposals in last week’s budget.

“It was a missed opportunity in the budget. I really think people need to know,” said Yussuff.

“We will not stop our campaign to achieve a national pharmacare plan because we think it is fundamental to the equality of all Canadians. If you live in Prince Edward Island, you should not have different access to medication than if you live in Ontario or live in British Columbia. We should all be treated the same.”

In its 2020 Throne Speech, Cabinet wrote it was “exactly the right moment to ramp up efforts” for a public pharmaceutical insurance plan. A 2019 advisory panel proposed initial coverage of life-saving medicines like cancer treatment drugs within three years with full universal coverage by 2027.

The federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare wrote Canadians faced a “confusing patchwork of more than one hundred government-run drug insurance plans and more than 100,000 private drug insurance plans” that left millions out of pocket for medication.

“The system is fragmented, uneven, unequal and unfair,” said a council report

A universal plan would cost taxpayers $15.3 billion annually but result in savings through lower drug prices, it said.

“We certainly recognize the cost of doing nothing is just going to be astronomical,” then-Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told reporters at the time.

“But I think we have to keep in mind that if putting together a national pharmacare program was easy, many other governments would have done so.”

New Democrat MP Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby, B.C.) last week told the finance committee more Canadians have lost employers’ drug benefits due to COVID-19 layoffs.

“There is no new funding for pharmacare at all in this budget. What many people are saying is this is an abandonment of pharmacare,” said Julian.

The Commons last February 24 defeated a bill sponsored by Julian to require all provinces to provide universal coverage under threat of lost federal cash transfers. The bill was opposed by cabinet by a 295-32 vote.

The Commons in 2017 also rejected by a 246-43 vote a New Democrat motion to begin negotiating terms of a pharmacare plan with provinces.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Editor of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Frank Sterle Jr.

    April 29, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    Promised universal medication coverage (though it would likely be for generic-brand only) is again conspicuously missing from a federal budget. After the last promise was made, following the 2019 election, the pharmaceutical industry reacted with threats of abandoning their Canada-based research and development (R&D) if the federal government went ahead with the plan. Why? Because universal medication coverage would negatively affect the industry’s plentiful profits. Of course profits would still be great, just not as great, which bothers the industry greatly.

    R&D costs are typically cited by the profitable industry to justify its exorbitant prices and resistance to universal medication coverage. However, according to a Huffington Post story (“Pharmaceutical Companies Spent 19 Times More On Self-Promotion Than Basic Research: Report,” updated May 8, 2013), a study conducted by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that for every $19 dollars the pharmaceutical industry spent on promoting and marketing new drugs, it put only $1 into its R&D.

    In late 2019, an Angus Reid study found that, over the previous year, due to medication unaffordability, about one quarter of respondents decided against filling a prescription or having one renewed. Not only is medication less affordable, but many low-income outpatients who cannot afford to fill their prescriptions end up back in the hospital system thus costing far more for provincial and federal government health ministries than if the generic-brand medication was covered. So, in order for the industry to continue raking in huge profits, Canadians, as both individual consumers and a taxpaying collective, must lose out huge. And our elected representatives, be they federal Liberals or Conservatives, seem to shrug their figurative shoulders in favor of big corporate interests — yet again.

    Considering it is such a serious health affair for so many people, impressed upon me is the industry lobbyists’ potent influence on our top-level elected officials for the sake of large profit-margin interests.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Alberta gov’t granted injunction to ban weekend protest at Whistle Stop Cafe

Chris Scott and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.

mm

Published

on

It hasn’t even happened yet, but an Alberta court has already ruled a weekend protest at the Whistle Stop Cafe is illegal.

The Court of Queen’s Bench has granted a pre-emptive injunction against, Chris Scott, the owner of Whistle Stop, because the restaurant plans to host a rally over the upcoming weekend called the “Save Alberta Campout Protest.” The injunction was granted at the request of Alberta Health Services (AHS), an agency under Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Last week, the RCMP raided the establishment and carted away all its booze. On Wednesday, the RCMP and AHS officials showed up en masse and padlocked the building.

Undeterred, Scott continued cooking pancakes, making burgers and serving coffee to his customers in the parking lot outside his shuttered restaurant. The UCP government recently banned outdoor patio service for restaurants.

He and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.

But the AHS, which sought the injunction, said the judge ruled it illegal because it would not comply with public health restrictions on mandatory masking, attendance limits, and social distancing.

“The order restrains the owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event and includes police enforcement and imposes significant consequences on the organizers of this event,” AHS said in a statement to media.

“AHS has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions.”

The Western Standard has reached out to Scott but hasn’t heard back on what effect the injunction will have. Scott said earlier in the day he will now seek elected office by running for the Wildrose Independence Party in the upcoming 2023 election.

Scott is the only gas station or restaurant in Mirror, a town of about 500, 50 km northeast of Red Deer, and now he’s seeing people from all over the province stopping in.

“The law is garbage – it”s doing more harm than good,” said Scott in an earlier interview with the Western Standard.

“If they want to throw me in jail for trying to earn a living, go ahead,” said Scott.

Scott has owned the cafe since July 2019, but it has been a fixture in town since 1967.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Continue Reading

News

EXCLUSIVE: UCP Secretary quits over ‘lies’

Smith has worked with conservative parties since 1976.

mm

Published

on

The former secretary of Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) says she decided to resign from the board because she “was tired of all the lies.”

In an exclusive interview with the Western Standard, Cathy Smith said she handed in her notice on April 6, after a string of statements and actions about the COVID-19 pandemic by Premier Jason Kenney.

Smith said the beginning of the end started when Kenney held a press conference over COVID-19 and warned of a pandemic so extreme there would be “body bags coming out of McMahon Stadium.”

“I said to myself ‘Are you kidding me’. There will never be body bags coming out of McMahon Stadium,” said Smith.

“I know nurses. Nurses at the time told me there was nothing going on in their hospitals.”

Smith said Kenney then started to condemn the “right-wing, the conspiracy theorists.”

“I said wait a minute, I’m right-wing. And then the way we treated Dr. (Dennis) Modry. I thought this wasn’t the right way to represent our 40,000 members,” she said.

Kenney and Modry have been in a battle of letters. Modry published an open letter to the premier on the Western Standard saying lockdowns don’t work. The letter went viral and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of time. It took Kenney three months to reply with his own letter.

As party secretary, Smith dealt with more than 100 e-mails, either from party members or people who voted for the UCP, about how the lockdowns were affecting their lives.

“We had an e-mail from a family whose grandfather died because his heart operation had been postponed. I e-mailed everyone back. I explained I was not writing as a representative of the party. I told them I didn’t agree with what the party was doing,” Smith said.

Smith said she was aware of a group of men in Medicine Hat who went to high school together – 20 of whom have committed suicide since the pandemic started.

“I told everyone to get involved at the (constituency association) level if they really want to make change,” Smith said.

She said the last straw for her was when Kenney appeared on talk show host Danielle Smith’s last show on QR77 and said he wasn’t aware the party board had approved a leadership vote in 2022, just six months before the next election.

“I was just tired of all the lies, Kenney pretended he didn’t know about the leadership vote. I thought ‘This is not the way — where’s the trust’,” Smith said.

“I was tired of all the lockdowns (without proof they work). But I said to myself, I will never quit, never, never, never.”

Finally, after talking to several other board members, Smith handed in her notice.

Smith has worked with conservative parties since 1976. As to where she will vote in the next election: “I’m still waiting.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Continue Reading

News

WATCH: Alberta’s costume lady forced to sell treasure trove of outfits because of lockdowns

“Fifteen months later, there is no coming back.”

mm

Published

on

It took Vickie Friesen more than 30 years of sewing to create 5,000 different costumes – everything from pirates to princesses.

Now, after a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, she is being forced to sell the lot.

Friesen and her husband, Darrell can no longer afford to keep their Three Hills Tickle Trunk outlet open and the business running after income vanished after lockdowns banned everything from school plays to Halloween.

Some of Vickie’s creations

“We just can’t afford to stay in business. There’s no theatre, there’s no parades, there’s no parties,” Vicki told the Western Standard on Thursday.

“In 2019, we were busy every week of the year with rentals. 2019 was booming. It was fabulous.

“Once word of our business got around, we started having the same customers repeated over and over. I started to ask customers to ask me what costumes we didn’t have, it was just easier.

“Now, nothing.”

Vicki recalled she sent out costumes for shows last March, but after the lockdowns, the costumes were returned and customers wanted their money back.

“Everything came back. I sat by the phone, but it didn’t ring anymore,” said Vicki.

Roman centurion outfit

“Fifteen months later, there is no coming back.”

The couple has made the heartbreaking decision they will have to sell all the costumes. A sale will be held at the store the next two Saturdays. A deal to sell their building should be signed next week.

All kid’s costumes will be sold for $10. Adult merchandise is 50% off, between $25 and $50 at their Three Hills store at 519 Main Street.

Need a storm trooper outfit? It will be there along with full ball gowns, Second World War uniforms and German lederhosen. Antique furniture is also on sale.

“They are all going for a song,” Vicki said, regret in her voice.

But some of the stuff they aren’t parting with includes all their Christmas outfits. The couple created a costumed “Christmas Convoy” through the town last year, and plan on repeating it, all over the province if asked.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus… really the Frieses

The couple did receive some federal COVID-19 aide which went to fixing a leak in the building, but not enough to even cover basic utilities.

Vickie proudly boast she has shipped her costumes all over the province: “From High Level to High Prairie.”

Tickle Trunk promo

She started sewing as a kid in Manitoba, creating costumes for theatre troupes and school plays. She also handmade graduation dresses for area high schoolers.

She stored her works of art in a 12×12 granary but it soon became full.

The Friesens and their two young children decided to move to Alberta and they set up shop in Three Hills, eventually buying a building in which to operate their business and store their dresses.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard New Media Corp.