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View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-03-12 12:03 [p.1994]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Montarville.
I am pleased to speak to the motion moved by my NDP colleagues.
To start, the motion is calling on the House to:
(a) acknowledge the government’s intention to introduce and implement national pharmacare;
(b) call on the government to implement the full recommendations of the final report of the Hoskins Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare....
I will stop there.
I am a member of the Bloc Québécois and a member from Quebec. During the last election campaign, I pledged to be the voice of Quebeckers in the House of Commons and to defend their interests. When a national assembly speaks unanimously on an issue concerning the relationship between Quebec and Ottawa, the Bloc Québécois takes notice and ensures that this consensus is echoed in the House of Commons.
I will read the motion that was adopted unanimously by the National Assembly on June 14.
THAT the National Assembly acknowledge the federal report [the Hoskins report] recommending the establishment of a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan;
THAT it reaffirm the Government of Québec's exclusive jurisdiction over health;
THAT it also reaffirm that Québec has had its own general prescription insurance plan for 20 years;
THAT it indicate to the federal government that Québec refuses to adhere to a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan;
THAT it ask the Government of Québec to maintain its prescription drug insurance plan and that it demand full financial compensation from the federal government if a project for a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan is officially tabled.
Our National Assembly is speaking with one voice across party lines. It is fair to say that, when our National Assembly, a parliament of the people, of the Quebec nation, speaks with one voice across party lines, it is Quebec that is talking.
I would have liked my NDP colleague to take into account the will of the Quebec nation in the wording of his motion, especially since the 2005 Sherbrooke declaration is part of his party's history. The Sherbrooke declaration recognized asymmetrical federalism and intended to give Quebec the systematic right to opt out. It does not sound as though the NDP wanted to take into account the unanimous voice of Quebeckers in this motion. That is why the Bloc Québécois will vote against it.
The more progressive the successive federal governments, the more they seem to get bored of their areas of jurisdiction and their responsibilities. The government wants to create social programs. That is a noble intention, but it falls outside the government's jurisdiction.
When it comes to health, the federal government would have been more help to the Quebec nation and the various provinces if it had kept its 2015 election promise to increase health transfers. More than $4 billion over four years could have been invested in the respective health networks in order to take care of our population and fulfill our responsibilities.
The federal government has a hard time managing programs like Phoenix, and Canadians are not likely to forget that anytime soon. Rather than try to assert jurisdiction over health care with respect to access to medication, the federal government should focus on controlling the cost of medication. Drug prices are soaring, and the government is being complacent by refusing to immediately enforce the new Patented Medicines Regulations, which would save $9 billion over 10 years.
I began my speech with such enthusiasm, but I must not forget to stop after 10 minutes because I am sharing my time with the member for Montarville, who is listening to me very intently right now.
The Bloc has more faith in Quebec than it does in Canada, so it is surprising that a progressive party like the NDP wants a nation that is behind the times compared to ours to tell us how to be progressive.
Generally speaking, if we compare the two, Quebec's social safety net is broader than Canada's. Quebec also has the best family policy in North America, with parental leave and child care. Post-secondary studies are easier to access in Quebec than anywhere else in North America, and we have low tuition fees and plenty of financial aid. Our tax system is the most progressive in North America because income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, is 0.31 for Quebec compared to 0.42 for the United States and 0.37 for Canada.
I would now like to talk about Quebec's pharmacare program, which has been in place since 1996. Yes, we have our own pharmacare program, and all Quebeckers are covered. It may not be perfect, but it is unique in North America.
Under Quebec's Act respecting prescription drug insurance, every person living in Quebec must be covered at all times by a pharmacare program. Workers and their families must be covered by private insurers. The rest of the population is covered by the public system administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec. It is therefore a hybrid system. The public portion of the program costs the Quebec government $3.6 billion.
However, recognizing that the Quebec system is the best on the continent and emphasizing Quebec's right to make its own decisions does not mean that our system is perfect. Here is the problem. For the public part of the program, the government has managed to negotiate lower drug prices and limit dispensing fees. Pharmacists, and especially drug companies, have made up for that by inflating the prices they charge private insurers, so much so that the cost of private insurance has skyrocketed. That means more money not going into workers' pockets.
This problem is being exacerbated by a transformation in the pharmaceutical industry. It has been quite a while since the industry discovered any new molecules that could be used for a wide range of diseases. Newer medications are targeted at narrow groups of people, which means that research costs are spread over fewer people. As a result, costs are soaring.
Between 2007 and 2017, the average annual cost of treatment for the top 10 selling patented medicines in Canada increased by 800%. The number of medicines with annual per-patient costs of at least $10,000 increased sevenfold, from 20 to 135. These high-cost medicines account for 40% of new patented medicines. Fully 30% of insurer spending is allocated to these medicines, which cover less than 2% of beneficiaries.
Quebec's hybrid system may have reached the limit of what it can do for Quebeckers, but that decision is up to them. Quebeckers are perfectly able to look after their system and make improvements.
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