Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone

 In News

Canada’s unions are proud that we’ve won health insurance coverage for many of our members. But we believe anyone with a health card should have coverage for the medicines they need. That’s why we’re working to win a universal prescription drug plan that covers everyone in Canada, regardless of their income, age or where they work or live.

In the 2018 federal budget, the government announced the creation of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, which will be headed up by former Ontario health minister Dr. Eric Hoskins. The Advisory Council is tasked with developing a plan for the implementation of a national pharmacare system with the provinces, territories and key stakeholders.

An overwhelming majority – 91 percent – of Canadians believe our public health care system should include a universal prescription drug plan.

Several national health care commissions have recommended the same, along with the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Health Coalition, Council of Canadians and the Canadian Labour Congress.

We need the federal government to commit to the implementation of a national, publicly-administered universal prescription drug plan for every Canadian, in every province and territory.

Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan. Our patchwork prescription drug system is inefficient and expensive. It has left Canadians with wildly varying prescription drug coverage and access. Many are paying different rates for the same medications.

We aren’t benefiting from the current system, but pharmaceutical and private insurance companies are. Pharmaceutical companies can charge higher prices for drugs because they sell to so many buyers. Private insurance companies benefit by charging employers, unions and employees to administer private drug insurance plans.

It’s time for Canada to catch up to our peers. It’s time to complete the unfinished business of our medicare system with a universal prescription drug plan that will save money through bulk purchasing power.

In New Zealand, where a public authority negotiates on behalf of the entire country, a year’s supply of the cholesterol-busting drug Lipitor costs just $15 a year, compared to $811 in Canada.

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