Marijuana legalization, cross-border trade, opiods, pharmacare top agenda at premiers meeting

EDMONTON—Drugs, from lethal opioids to soon-to-be-legalized marijuana and Kathleen Wynne’s pharmacare push, will dominate the annual premiers’ conference.Provincial and territorial leaders are also keeping a close eye on the United States as the Trump administration provides more detail on how it wants to change the North American Free Trade Agreement when negotiations begin in mid-August.Premier Kathleen Wynne will tout Ontario’s new pharmacare plan, the first provincial plan in the country, as she talks with 12 counterparts until Wednesday.“I want to explain that to folks, tell them what we are doing . . . and hope we can advance the conversation on a national pharmacare plan,” Wynne said of the $465-million program. It will make available 4,400 medications to people under 25 starting in January.“I think that there’s a lot of interest among the ministers — there has been a pretty full discussion with the ministers of health across the country — so I’m interested to hear where my colleagues are at with that.”Article Continued BelowWynne flew west after spending two days in Providence, Rhode Island, talking trade with U.S. governors at their national conference.“I’ve spoken to over 20 governors now, and I’ve got a pretty good sense of where we are going,” she added. Wynne noted that other premiers have also reached out to U.S. representatives about measures in several states, including New York and Texas, to urge purchasers there to “buy American;” the looming NAFTA talks, and new U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.“There’s going to be some consternation about that . . . . We will be sharing our collective perspective on NAFTA, on softwood lumber, and that will take up a big chunk of time.”