MONTREAL -- The Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) is campaigning for the implementation of a public, universal pharmacare program across Canada, and believes it’s possible the Trudeau government could move in that direction this year.

At the union’s annual new-year press conference, FTQ secretary-general Denis Bolduc said the Trudeau government should take advantage of its minority status to address the issue rapidly.

Last June, an Advisory Council on the implementation of a national prescription drug insurance plan advised the government to forge ahead with an affordable, single-payer system. The council issued recommendations on which measures to follow.

The council’s report said such a plan would “provide access to prescribed medicines for all Canadians, including the estimated one in five who are either uninsured or underinsured.”

Canadians spent $34 billion on prescription drugs in 2018.

The FTQ also wants the federal government to adopt “real” employment insurance reforms, by improving access to benefits, instead of lowering contributions.

Under the current system, nearly 40 percent of workers who are laid off are not entitled to employment insurance benefits, said FTQ president Daniel Boyer.