February 26, 2018 – In an unexpected move with far-reaching implications from coast to coast, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins announced his intent to depart Queen’s Park for what appears to be an historic opportunity to lead the federal government’s efforts on a national pharmacare system.

While full details of the new role and mandate are as yet unclear, more information on the new federal initiative is expected to be revealed in tomorrow’s 2018 Federal Budget.

Hoskins, who has served as Ontario’s Health Minister for nearly four years, has been among the strongest champions for national pharmacare during his tenure. He consistently advocated for federal leadership on universal drug coverage, and drove a growing consensus behind closed doors through meetings with his provincial and federal counterparts. Although his efforts to incorporate a national pharmacare framework as part of a renewed health funding accord were unsuccessful, Hoskins was instrumental in recent successes that have helped pave the way for federal action on pharmacare. As part of last year’s budget, he unveiled the OHIP+ program, which provided universal drug coverage for all Ontarians under the age of 25 – a pivotal first step towards pharmacare in Ontario. Furthermore, Hoskins led the effort with his fellow health ministers to reach an agreement last fall with the federal government to study a national approach to universal pharmacare.

With Hoskins headed to Ottawa, Premier Wynne reached into her Cabinet for a veteran Minister to carry the critical Health portfolio. Dr. Helena Jaczek, the current Minister of Community and Social Services, will assume the role of Minister of Health. Jaczek, a medical doctor and former Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Region of York, has served in Cabinet since 2014 and brings a wealth of experience in Ontario’s health care system to her new role. Rounding out the changes to Cabinet, Michael Coteau will add the Community and Social Services portfolio to his current responsibilities as Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism.

Counsel will keep you posted on fallout from today’s news, as well as any changes to the Minister’s Office staff.

For more information on what this means for your organization, please contact

Bob Lopinski at blopinski@counselpa.com or 416-920-0716.