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Province greenlights cheaper medicines despite industry pushback
Two senior government sources have told the Globe and Mail that Ontario’s public drug plans will begin favouring a new class of medications called biosimilars. These medicines mimic the properties of biologics, a more expensive group of drugs. The move is expected to save the province tens of millions of dollars a year. Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet is said to have made the decision on biosimilars on January 30, one day before bureaucrats received pressure from drug company Janssen Inc. to retain public funding for the biologic Remicade, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. The company had offered a steep discount to the government to keep buying Remicade and also threatened to stop providing 1,872 Ontarians with free Remicade if Ontario switched to biosimilars.
The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario just released a report raising concerns about how tax breaks are growing more quickly than program spending. The FAO says that if tax breaks had their own line in the budget, it would overshadow most other spending categories. To help us understand what this means, The Agenda welcomes Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Finn Poschmann, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.
With hate crime rising and divisive populist rhetoric influencing discourse across western democracies, filmmaker Deeyah Khan goes to the front lines of the U.S. race wars. She meets with fascists, white supremacists, and proponents of alt-right ideologies to see if human connection is possible.
Northeastern Ontario Hub reporter Nick Dunne writes about how francophones in the province’s north are underserved by the health-care system and looks at the steps that operators of a new facility are taking to help change that situation.
Tonight on TVO
7 p.m. — Monty Don’s French Gardens: The Artistic Garden
Monty Don turns to France's artistic tradition to see what influence it has had on the country's gardens. He travels to some of the most celebrated artists' gardens, including the one created by the impressionist Claude Monet. He also matches paintings to the garden of Paul Cézanne and visits several contemporary artistic gardens to see how the use of plants and trees has evolved.
8 p.m. — The Agenda: Canadian non-fiction takes a bow
After 20 years of celebrating the best in Canadian non-fiction, the RBC Taylor Prize is winding down. This year’s finalists join us to discuss their books and what being nominated for the 2020 prize means. In the studio will be Mark Bourrie, author of Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson; Robyn Doolittle, author of Had It Coming: What’s Fair in the Age of #MeToo; Jessica McDiarmid, author of Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; Zia Tong, author of The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions That Shape Our World; and Timothy C. Winegard, author of The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator.
In this 2001 episode of Imprint, Diane Schoemperlen reads from her second novel, Our Lady of the Lost and Found, about a writer who entertains a house guest who just happens to be the Virgin Mary. A Governor General’s Award recipient for her fiction, the Kingston author was also nominated for a Taylor Prize in 2016 for her memoir, This Is Not My Life, about her relationship with a convicted murderer. Schoemperlen is known for her inventive fiction, which often incorporates illustration and other bits of art and ephemera.