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Ontario’s Liberal government says it will expand its pharmacare program, offering free prescription drugs to people 65 and older.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says that starting Aug. 1, 2019, seniors will no longer have to pay a deductible or copayment for more than 4,400 prescription drugs.

Wynne says the program will cost $575-million a year when it is fully operational in 2020-21.

Drugs covered in the program include medications for cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and asthma.

The Liberal government announced in a throne speech Monday that it will fund a series of new programs – including the expanded pharmacare program – in the provincial budget set to be tabled on March 28.

Last year, the province created its OHIP+ pharmacare program that provides free prescription drugs to people 24 years old and under.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the delivery of a throne speech nine days before the Liberals’ pre-election budget was to give context to her government’s priorities. Opposition parties have criticized the timing of the speech.

The Canadian Press