New pharmacare program a boon for racialized communities

By Lincoln DePradine

A pharmacare deal reached between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party government and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), offering new coverage for contraception and diabetes treatment and also dental-care plan, will be particularly impactful on racialized communities such as African-Canadians and Indigenous peoples, Toronto MP Gary Anandasangaree has said.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,’’ Anandasangaree, a federal minister and Liberal MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, told The Caribbean Camera.

Gary Anandasangaree

He was interviewed during last Saturday’shealth and wellness symposium in Scarborough at the Dotty Nicholas Sickle Cell Scholarship Fund Association and Global Kingdom Ministries.

“We need more of this,’’Anandasangaree said, commenting on the symposium. “This is a way for the community to come together and to learn. There are some real good experts here, people who have lived experience; people who have advocated for themselves and also for their community.’’

The symposium also is an opportunity to “motivate people to be proactive about their healthcare’’, addedAnandasangaree, who is minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. “Oftentimes, we’re not proactive; we pay attention when we are forced to go the hospital. We need to be paying attention before we go to the hospital.’’

Jagmeet Singh

Anandasangaree noted that some diseases, such as diabetes, have a higher rate of prevalence among groups such as members of the Black community.

The Liberal/NDP deal, under a “confidence-and-supply agreement’’ that helps keep the government in power over the past two years, includes a variety of insulin and other medication for people suffering from diabetes.

It allows every Canadian with a health card to access free birth control and diabetic medication, including insulin for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

However, the program will not include Ozempic, a new medication for diabetes that has also been used as a weight-loss drug.

Another notable aspect of the agreement is a $13 billion dental-care plan, covering seniors 72 years and older. It will expand to all eligible, uninsured low- and middle-income Canadians by 2025.

“We’ve secured something really important; I would say really historic for Canadians. We’re really excited about this,’’ said NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. “People are going to get some real help.’’

Prime Minister Trudeau said his government is “committed to moving forward on creating a framework for pharmacare, because in a wealthy country like Canada, nobody should have to choose between buying groceries or buying much-needed medication’’.

The pharmacare agreement is “a very important step forward’’, said Anandasangaree.

“I’m very excited about it because I think it’s going to have a great impact on the community,’’ he said. “There are many people we know that either cannot afford or don’t have coverage, or who don’t take the medicine that they’re prescribed because they just can’t afford it.’’

Anandasangaree underscored the importance of the dental component of the agreement, using his mother as an example of one of the elderly Canadians, who will benefit from oral treatment and care, such as filling and cleaning, which they were unable to access.

“My mom is a perfect example,’’ he said. “She is 78 and I have to force her to go to the dentist. She always asks, how much does it cost.’’