Ontario Politicians on Drugs

Commentary, Healthcare, Lee Harding

Ontario taxpayers receive nothing but bad news from their politicians on drugs. Last April, 2017, both the NDP and Liberals proposed expensive drug plans within four days of each other. The one proposed by ruling Liberals took effect January 1, 2018 to the destruction of the public purse. It isn’t a prescription for  affordable public health, it’s a prescription for an election win.

The bare politics of both drug plans is clear by their timing. On April 23, 2017, NDP leader Andrea Horwath revealed a $475 million plan to cover 125 Canadians of any age. Just four days later, the Liberal budget dedicated $465 million to offer full coverage of 4,400 prescription drugs for all those under 25.

For what it’s worth—and it’s not $475 million–the NDP plan makes  more sense. It plans to fund only a limited number of drugs, and did not discriminate on the basis of age. By contrast, the Liberals proposed their drug plan to cover seniors and social assistance families, but also included children and young adults. Why pay for children and young adults but not the 25-to-65 age group? Are they inherently more worthy of drugs?

Speculations aside, both drug proposals suffer from the same flaw as the healthcare system itself: moral hazard. Simply put, people are more likely to over-use anything they don’t have to pay for. That makes drug costs go up, not down. This means Canadians will pay more in the end, except the costs will be disguised as taxes. Free prescription drugs skew health solutions away from  exercise, meditation, and healthy lifestyles, and push towards chemical solutions. Increased drug use only spreads the financial burden to those taxpayers who will do not qualify for the drug plans.,

Those who insist it is immoral that people pay for their own health care or drug treatment cannot explain why it is better to make someone else to pay for it instead. Nevertheless, “free” health ideologues claim the moral high ground to rebuff very practical questions.

“Why should a millionaire’s child have their drugs covered by taxpayers?” one reporter asked last April. “You want to income test, and we’re not doing that when it comes to our children,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa replied. “Universal health care applies to everybody equally.”

Due to past and current excessive government spending, each of those children carry $22,055 of provincial debt and $17,684 of federal debt. Is that a healthy start to life? No, but some leaders couldn’t care less.

“When necessary a deficit, but not necessarily a deficit,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said, right after announcing her party’s drug plan proposal.

A deficit is not necessary. Neither is a fully-funded public drug plan. These political prescriptions for an election win will make few healthier and many poorer, and it’s enough to make taxpayers sick.