KATHLEEN WYNNE – March 20

Ontario’s Liberal government says it will expand its pharmacare program, offering free prescription drugs to people over 65 years old.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says that starting Aug. 1, 2019, seniors will no longer have to pay a deductible or co-payment for more than 4,400 prescription drugs.

Wynne says the program will cost $575 million a year when it is fully operational in 2020-21.

Drugs covered in the program include medications for cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and asthma.

The Liberal government announced in a throne speech Monday that it will fund a series of new programs including the expanded pharmacare program in the provincial budget set to be tabled on March 28.

Last year, the province created its OHIP + pharmacare program that provides free prescription drugs to people 24 years old and under.

All research shows that the people most likely to be unable to afford their drugs are a bit younger starting at around age 55 when they have health issues starting to creep up but they are not eligible for seniors benefits. Carp has identified the deductible as a problem for some lower income seniors and called for the low income threshhold to be raised. .

The Premier joined Libby to explain the decision and respond to critics who say her recent comments to a diverse group of college students was ageist.