The province of Ontario in Canada will be launching a funding program called “OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare” in which children under the age of 25 will be given access to the medication they need for free, regardless of family income. They are simply required to show their health card to be able to purchase their medication.

Starting on January 1st of 2018, the OHIP+ will be officially implemented throughout the province and will assuage the 1 in 10 Ontarians who cannot afford prescription drugs.

The Liberals say that the program will cost the government and taxpayers $465 million a year.

“Over the past several years, Ontario has been advocating for a national pharmacare program so that no family has to worry about the affordability of life-saving drugs, should they ever need them. Comprehensive public pharmacare would expand access to prescription drugs for all Ontarians who need them and eliminate the financial barriers that currently exist for the estimated one in 10 Ontarians who can’t afford prescription drugs.” as said in the second chapter for the budget proposal released for 2017.

Liberal ruling government celebrates their new budget plan for 2017, highlighting the need for more affordable government services. Source: Global News Canada

It is the first of its kind in Canada, allowing the free purchase of prescription drugs for a wide age group with no other eligibility required other than being a Canadian citizen and if you fit in the 0-25 age group. OHIP+ can be comparable to Saskatchewan’s Extended Benefits and Drugs Plan, but the province does not provide full cost coverage and the age requirement is limited to children who are 14 years of age.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath had speculations about the plan being a last-minute addition as the spending figures were not included in the budget document. “All I can think of is that they made it up on the back of a napkin before they got to today,” Horwath explains, revealing the nick of the time decision that the Liberals proposed and was successful.

“Pharmacare will help ensure access to prescribed medications, particularly for those who are most in need and least able to pay. It is the natural next step in the evolution of Canada’s most revered social program — universal public health care.”

Finance Minister Charles Sousa reasons that their aim was to start with the ones who need it most and hope it would encourage other provinces to do the same when asked why the drug coverage plan was not made universal.

The budget proposal highlights the need for more affordable, and more free services for Canadians and calls attention to the young Canadians who are to become the future of the country and their needs for a better present.

“This balanced budget is dedicated to providing young people with free prescription medications, providing free tuition and helping businesses grow,” Sousa said in a statement to the National Post.

“We don’t put a price on our kids…we recognize that families are struggling with the increased cost of living so we’re doing more to help with everyday costs” –– Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa

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