The Liberal government and the NDP will introduce the first phase of their new national pharmacare program, however the province of Alberta has chosen to opt out of the program. 

The pharmacare program will include coverage of birth control and diabetes medication and was a major part of the supply-and-confidence pact that the NDP shares with the Liberals. 

Final details of the legislation have yet to be ironed out before the scheduled deadline of March 1. Still, Alberta’s Health Minister Adriana LaGrange confirmed that the province plans to opt out, in an email to Global News on Sunday. 

Alberta will instead aim to obtain a full per capita share of the funding because the province was not consulted on the plan “and there are limitations in the initial analysis and assumptions, including start-up investment and administrative costs to implement a cost-sharing model, that were not taken into consideration that add costs for the provinces,” wrote a spokesperson for LaGrange’s office in the email. 

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland promised said that the pharmacare plan won’t risk Canada’s fiscal standing and that it can be implemented without going over the government’s spending budget, pledged last fall.

“For our government, it is very, very important to invest in Canada and Canadians … and to do so in a fiscally responsible way,” said Freeland. ” We laid out in the fall economic statement some fiscal guideposts and we will meet them.”

However, the pharmacare program was stalled repeatedly over financial concerns earlier this year from Health Minister Mark Holland.

Another issue that remains is what type of diabetes supplies should be covered, according to an anonymous source involved in the negotiations. 

Currently, the deal includes insulin for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and potentially other diabetes drugs.

The source also confirmed that the Liberals confirmed that they had around $800 million to spend on the program. 

The Liberal’s goal is to keep deficits below 1% of GDP, starting in 2026-27 and to maintain the 2024 fiscal year’s deficit to stay at or below the spring budget projection of $40.1 billion. 

According to Statistics Canada, the current national deficit was $3.2 billion in the third quarter of last year. 

The Parliamentary Budget Office released a report last fall which projected a combined cost of $11.2 billion for the 2024-25 fiscal year. 

“Upon the implementation of a single-payer universal drug plan based on Quebec’s Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) formulary— “Pharmacare”—we estimate the incremental cost to the public sector (that is federal and provincial governments combined) to be $11.2 billion in 2024-25, increasing to $13.4 billion in 2027-28,” reads the report.

“In terms of the economy as a whole, we estimate cost savings on drug expenditures of $1.4 billion in 2024-25, rising to $2.2 billion in 2027-28.”