“Working Canadians are pulling me aside and telling me that costs for prescription medication are taking over their lives or the life of a loved one,” said [NDP leader Jack] Layton. “Access to prescription drugs depends more on where you live and how much money you have, than it does on need. This is wrong and needs to change.”
That said, I don't think it necessarily falls to the federal government to institute the program simply because this will become another federal program completely and utterly abandoned by the federal party in power, however much they will continue to campaign on its strengths. I cringe with the thought that a Liberal politician would use a national pharmacare plan as an election plank only to drop it upon a successful election victory (tell me how that national daycare strategy is working out ... I know, I know - the last time was for real - honest!).
An important balance also has to be maintained with respect to pharmaceutical innovation. It's simply not an option to nationalize the pharmaceutical industry and dictate that pharmaceutical companies must supply pharmaceuticals to the nation. While cost-effective drug treatments should be made available to those who need it, pharmaceutical companies must still be free to research and develop.
Once again, the federal NDP and the Ontario PC Party find themselves coincidentally cooperating. The Ontario PC Party, in their Health Care white paper [PDF], clearly indicate that a national strategy for dealing with catastrophic drugs and rare diseases is required as the costs are sometimes astronomical - while the province should develop the cost effective means of supplying needed medicine to the public. This is an important and a necessary step in developing a sustainable program.