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As drugs became one of the fastest rising costs in the health care system, the Liberal government didn’t just sit back and watch. They made things worse by protecting patents and profits, not patients. And they ignored calls for a national pharmacare program.

The Liberals have promised a national drug program many times, but still haven’t delivered. Now they are promising to finally define their drug strategy, but not until June 30, 2006.

The Conservatives promised in 2004 to speed up drug approval, but this would do nothing to control overall costs or reduce costs for individuals. In fact, it would probably increase costs, by hastening the approval of unnecessary drugs.

The NDP has committed to, as a first step, a new national prescription drug plan that would cover 50 per cent of medically necessary prescription medicine costs above $1,500 per year per person. This will help ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to medically necessary prescription drugs.

This proposal doesn’t have all the elements needed for a national pharmacare program, but it is a step in the right direction. As NDP Leader Jack Layton says, “We can’t fix all the issues with prescription drugs all at once.”

The Liberals have had over 12 years to contain one of the fastest growing costs of our public health care system. Their protection of patents and profits, and not patients, shows where their real allegiance lies.

This election, let’s vote positive and vote for a public Pharmacare plan.