Press Release: As Liberal Leader, Kate Graham would Implement Universal Pharmacare, Expand Access to Abortion

November 12 OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Joined by a crowd of supporters, Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidate Kate Graham held a campaign rally this evening in Ottawa where she announced key parts of her plan to transform health care as Premier. 

At the event, her third rally in the past month, Graham plans to bring universal pharmacare to Ontario, make accessing an abortion easier in rural and urban communities, and work to tackle the opioid crisis head-on. 

“My plan is about helping people, and it takes ideas from the left and the right,” said Graham. “That’s what people need right now: honest decision making and a province where the best ideas win, regardless of where they come from.”

Kate Graham launched her leadership bid in September and spent the first seven weeks of her province-wide tour listening to Ontarians. As a result of what she heard, improving people’s well-being is the primary focus of her campaign. In addressing healthcare, Graham wants to improve the state of women’s health care in Ontario by making contraceptive drugs free, expanding access to reproductive services, and making menstrual products available in provincial government buildings and on campuses. 

“Ensuring women have control over their bodies, not only in principle, but in practice, moves our whole society forward,” said Graham. “Women outside of urban centres shouldn’t be at a fundamental disadvantage when it comes to accessing critically important services.”

Recognizing that mental health is a core pillar of well- being and health, Graham will outline a mental-health specific plan in the coming weeks.

Further Details on Kate’s Cross-Partisan Health Plan:

Bring Universal Pharmacare to Ontario

In addition to providing support through a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program that covers a wide variety of drugs, we will adopt and implement the Ontario NDP’s 2018 'Pharmacare for Everyone' plan. This plan provides "universal coverage for approximately 125 essential medicines". This list will include essential drugs such as insulin, oral contraceptives, and antibiotics, to ensure that they are freely available.

Make Dental Care more Affordable

We would re-institute the cancelled Liberal Ontario Drug and Dental Program from Budget 2018. This program creates universal coverage by filling in the gaps from private insurance, and provides up to 80 per cent of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses, up to an annual maximum of $400 for singles and $600 for couples, plus $50 for each child in the family.

Increase Access to Safe Abortions

The Green Party of Ontario's 'Green Vision' advocated for "expanding the number of abortion clinics in Ontario, including in the north" noting that "all but one of Ontario’s clinics are situated in the GTA or Ottawa”.  

We’re making a commitment to work alongside front-line providers and advocacy organizations to improve access to contraceptives, counselling services and abortion services across Ontario, with a focus on expanding service in Northern and rural Ontario. Ontarians believe in a woman’s right to choose, but for many women, choices are restricted and limited. This needs to change. 

Get Seniors the Devices they need to Live Well

We will increase the funding of the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) by $50 million a year, which assists seniors and others with long term disabilities purchase mobility aids and other crucial healthcare devices. Increased ADP funding was a policy plank in the Ontario Progressive Conservative's "People's Guarantee".

Act Decisively on the Opioid Crisis 

We will support the establishment of new overdose prevention sites to municipalities who want them, and we will reverse Ford's cuts to municipal health agencies and provide an additional $100 million per year to help aid their efforts in fighting the opioid crisis and in flu prevention.

Make Menstrual Products More Accessible, Period. 

We will make menstrual products available for free in Ontario government buildings, as well as in Ontario colleges and universities. Many municipal governments have, or are planning on having, menstrual products freely available in municipal buildings such as arenas. We will institute a 50/50 cost sharing program with municipalities to aid in their efforts.

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Quick Facts About the Kate Graham campaign:

• Graham has received donations from nearly 300 people to her campaign, and has the third highest fundraising total of all campaigns. Over 70% of donors have given $100 or less.

• Last week, Graham announced her plan to shape her candidacy around improving Ontarian’s well-being. A policy focus on well-being has been championed by other progressive governments around the world, including New Zealand and Iceland, and Graham wants to bring a made-in-Ontario approach to measuring more than just GDP to Queens Park.

• Graham has outlined four priority areas of well-being her campaign will focus on: empowering Ontarians where they live, making life more affordable, creating better jobs, and making Ontario carbon-neutral.