Op-Eds

If you were expecting the Liberals to launch a much-anticipated national pharmacare plan as part of its election-year budget, you were likely sorely disappointed. Despite the release of the interim report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare earlier this month, and various politicians making various noises about the possibility of such an ambitious proposal, there was almost no new information in the budget about pharmacare, other than new funding that would land years from now. And with important questions left unanswered, provinces and private-insurance companies continue to endure much uncertainty about what the future holds. Here’s what the budget does provide for: $35 million over 4 years, starting...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision last fall to put the retailing of cannabis in the hands of the private sector was a good one. The province recently held a lottery to determine who would operate as a cannabis retailer. The use of a lottery, as opposed to an auction or a “preferred suppliers” rule, to allocate retail outlets can be defended on two grounds. One is that the government did not wish to give excessive retail power to existing cannabis interests with deep pockets, or to other retailers such as Walmart or a pharmacy chain. An auction would likely have resulted in a concentration of retail power akin to the concentration of production power that exists at present. That concentration of production power already places the...
The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples made prominent reference to a 1613 treaty between the Dutch and Mohawk: “Three beads of wampum separating the two purple rows symbolize peace, friendship and respect. The two rows of purple are two vessels travelling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, is for the Indian people, their laws, their customs, and their ways. The other, a ship, is for the white people and their laws, their customs and their ways. We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our own boat.” The intent of much Canadian Indigenous policy since 1996 has been to "strengthen the canoe.” Overall, this has been a worthy exercise in the pursuit of reconciliation with those wanting to...
On Oct. 17, Canada will be the second country in the world to have fully legalized production and retail distribution of recreational marijuana. There will be considerable international interest in the Canadian experiment, in order to understand what works and what does not. One of the prime objectives of legalization was to stamp out the black market. However, it is now clear that this is extremely unlikely. Both federal and different provincial governments should accept responsibility for this. Black markets exist if there is insufficient legal supply or if they can offer comparable goods at lower cost. Based on available data on the number of licensed producers and medical-marijuana production and inventory levels, we estimate that...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford should be congratulated for improving Ontario’s marijuana market structure last week. He decided to privatize the retailing of marijuana in the province. That decision represents a reversal of the previous government’s choice to place retailing in the hands of a high-cost government monopoly. This is good news. However, he also decided to leave a government agency front and centre in the wholesaling of cannabis. Having gone some way to free up entrepreneurial energies and create an expansive marketplace, he balked at the idea that this market could function well without a monopsony, or a single buyer, at its core. For the benefit of Ontarians, the government should go further, and, in particular, look at...