Liberals’ 2019 budget to include partial prescription drugs coverage: report – National

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OTTAWA/TORONTO — The federal Liberal government will propose a limited expansion to the country’s universal healthcare system in the spring budget, to cover part of the cost of prescription drugs, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The modest broadening of the healthcare program is set to become one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s key campaign promises ahead of the October election, which is shaping up to be a close fight.

READ MORE: Low-income families no longer pay deductibles on prescription drugs in B.C.

The government would not commit to meeting 100 per cent of the cost of prescription drugs for those who have no insurance through their workplace, the sources said. That suggests the government is leaning toward a narrower, more insurance industry-friendly model of pharmacare, as it is called, than that recommended by a government health committee last year.

A spokesman for Finance Minister Bill Morneau declined to comment.

Officials have yet to decide how much detail to provide about the pharmacare system in the budget, which is expected in the week of March 18, the sources said. They may release a general commitment to boost coverage and leave the specifics for the campaign, they added.

WATCH: Concerns generic drug price drop could lead to shortages






But new information on pharmacare’s inclusion in the spring budget and its limited scope gives a first glimpse of the government’s blueprint for what has been called the “unfinished business” of Canada’s publicly funded healthcare system.

The sources, who spoke in recent days, requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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Canadian sentenced to death in China on drugs charges will appeal: lawyer – National

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A Canadian man sentenced to death by a Chinese court for drug smuggling will appeal his sentence, his lawyer told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in Liaoning province re-tried Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who had appealed his original 15-year prison sentence, and decided on the death penalty on Monday.

READ MORE: Canadians urged to exercise caution in China amid ‘arbitrary enforcement’ of laws

Schellenberg was told in court he had the right to appeal to Liaoning High Court within 10 days upon receiving the ruling, the intermediate court said in a second statement.

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply (the) death penalty … as in this case,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

WATCH: Trudeau says government will intercede in Canadian facing death sentence in China







Late on Monday, Canada’s foreign ministry updated its travel advisory for China to warn citizens about “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

It added: “We continue to advise all Canadians traveling to China to exercise a high degree of caution.”

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Canadian accused of smuggling ‘enormous amount of drugs’ into China: state media – National

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A Canadian citizen is set to be tried on drug charges in the Chinese port city of Dalian, Chinese state media reported amid already-heightened tensions between Beijing and Ottawa.

Global Times, a tabloid operated by the Communist Party of China, identified the suspect as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

Schellenberg was scheduled for an appeal hearing for Saturday, Dec. 29 after he was earlier found to have smuggled “an enormous amount of drugs” into China, according to Dalian.runsky.com, a news portal operated by Dalian authorities.

READ MORE: China won’t stop flood of fentanyl into Canada, sources say

The Dalian government news portal stated sarcastically that Schellenberg’s audacity was to be admired given that he “actually dared to smuggle drugs into China.” It pointed out that Chinese criminal law offers “no sympathy” for drug crimes.

Global News reached out to the Canadian government for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.

WATCH: Destination Canada pulls tourism ad in China







China has some of the harshest drug laws in the world.

People found guilty of smuggling large quantities of drugs face sentences ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment and even the death penalty, the Global Times reported.

In 2009, China executed British citizen Akmal Shaikh after he was caught smuggling heroin. Shaikh’s death prompted outrage in the U.K. over the apparent lack of any mental health assessment.

The following year, Chinese authorities executed Japanese national Mitsunobu Akano for smuggling drugs.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau says people around the world ‘extremely disturbed’ by detention of Canadians in China

Schellenberg’s reported detention comes as Canada and China spar over the fate of Canadian nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained in China on suspicion of endangering national security.

Their detention came shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver at the behest of U.S. authorities who are seeking her extradition.

WATCH: Ottawa demands China release two detained Canadian men







China has demanded that Canada release Meng immediately, but neither country has drawn a direct connection between her arrest and the detention of Canadians in China.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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