Critics call for Morneau's ouster from pharmacare file over remarks about study

Health and labour groups are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to remove Finance Minister Bill Morneau from the government's national pharmacare file over comments he made about the freshly launched effort to explore the issue.

The heads of three organizations allege Morneau presupposed the outcome of the study on national pharmacare by saying he supports an eventual strategy that would preserve existing drug-insurance systems in Canada, rather than tossing them all aside for a new national plan.

Leaders of the Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Canadian Doctors for Medicare have written to Trudeau about Morneau's remarks the morning after he tabled a budget announcing the national pharmacare council.

The organizations say Morneau's comments not only contradict overwhelming evidence that has shown a national plan is the best way forward, they also threaten to undermine the work of the national pharmacare council before it even begins.

The New Democrats also used the daily question period to assail Morneau, who defended himself by saying he would listen to the findings of the expert council to make sure all Canadians have access to pharmaceuticals.

The letter's authors also seized on a remark made by Morneau at Wednesday's breakfast event about his past ties to his family-built firm Morneau Shepell, which he noted is the largest benefits consultancy provider in Canada.