11/27/2013 01:27 EST | Updated 01/27/2014 05:59 EST

Don't blame New Brunswick premier for 'enthusiastic' drug promise: minister

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick Premier David Alward can't be blamed for "enthusiastically" promising during the 2010 election campaign to have a catastrophic drug plan within the first year of his mandate, his health minister said Wednesday.

Hugh Flemming said while the government would have liked to have set up such a plan during its first year in power, it was an ambitious goal.

"It is an optimistic line," Flemming said Wednesday outside the legislature.

"If somebody, the premier or otherwise, enthusiastically takes something as good as this and is optimistic about getting it in and don't quite meet their timelines, well as far as I'm concerned, that's no crime."

During question period, Opposition Liberal Leader Brian Gallant repeatedly asked Flemming when the drug plan would be announced. But Flemming said he doesn't have a specific date.

Flemming said his department is still working on the details of such a program and he stressed that the party's platform did not commit to set up such a plan during the government's first year, going so far as to read the promise contained in the document to reporters.

He said the government is taking its time to ensure it serves the needs of patients but promised that the plan would be in place before the September 2014 election.

Gallant said that constitutes a broken commitment to the public.

"They should live up to their promises," Gallant said outside the legislature.

New Brunswick is the only province without a catastrophic drug plan.