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.
Today, the only place where all Canadians are covered is in the hospital. The federal government covers the cost of prescription drugs for members of the Armed Forces and the RCMP, veterans and Indigenous people.
The provinces and territories all provide different coverage. Most subsidize the cost of medications for vulnerable Canadians like those over 65 and recipients of social assistance and disability benefits. Many also provide catastrophic coverage for those with astronomical medical costs.
Almost 1 in 4 households reported that over the previous 12 months, they or someone in their household did not take their medicines as prescribed, if at all, because of the cost.
- About one third of working Canadians don’t have employer-funded prescription drug coverage.
- The less you earn at work, the less likely you are to have prescription drug coverage.
- Women and young workers are less likely to have the coverage they need.
- Even those with drug plans are paying ever-increasing co-payments and deductibles.
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 benefitting 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.