Eric Hoskins resigns as Ont. Health Minister , MPP

Ontario’s health minister resigned abruptly Monday, making him the fourth high-profile Liberal to step down just months ahead of a provincial election.

Sources say that Tuesday’s federal budget will establish a national advisory group with former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins at the helm that will work towards setting up a Canada-wide pharmacare plan.

He resigned both his cabinet position and his seat in the provincial legislature, saying he was leaving “to continue building better health care for all Canadians” and that his “path and journey will become clearer in the days ahead.”

While Hoskins was health minister, the Liberals introduced a pharmacare plan that covers 4,400 medications for people under 25. The plan, which was a key plank of last year’s provincial budget, took effect in January.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne thanked Hoskins for his work and announced that Helena Jaczek will take over as Ontario’s health minister. Michael Coteau will take over Jazcek’s former role of Minister of Community and Social Services and maintain his role as Minister of Children and Youth Services.

The parliamentary budget watchdog calculated last fall that a national, universal pharmacare program would cost more than $19 billion, but could still slash the overall price tag for drugs in this country by more than $4 billion annually.

Hoskins, who had been a member of the Ontario legislature since 2009 and health minister since 2014, was the fourth high-profile Ontario Liberal to step down just months ahead of a provincial election. He is a physician and a Rhodes Scholar.