Canada’s unions are kicking off Pride season by renewing the call for universal pharmacare. Too many LGBTQ2SI people are among the more than 3.5 million people living in Canada who can't afford to fill their prescriptions; and over half of people living in Canada are afraid they won’t be able to afford their prescription medication in the future.
The LGBTQ2SI community can often face more barriers than their straight and cisgender peers in accessing adequate health care. Yet, access to health care – including medication – is a fundamental human right.
“Universal pharmacare is about health equity. Everyone in Canada with a health card – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – should have access to the medications they need,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.
Roughly one third of working people in Canada don't have employer-funded prescription drug coverage. Many members of LGBTQ2SI communities face discrimination in the job market, which can restrict their access to meaningful employment with access to comprehensive drug benefits. Even those who do have workplace health benefits can find co-pays or deductibles prohibitive, preventing them from taking necessary medications as prescribed.
“Too many people in Canada must choose between paying for their prescription medications or buying groceries. For the LGBTQ2SI community, the barriers are even greater,” said Yussuff.
HIV prevention treatment, gender-affirming hormones, medication to treat anxiety or depression, and treatments in support of reproductive and sexual health and fertility – just to name a few – can be prohibitively expensive. Lack of access to some of these medications can have disastrous consequences.
“Universal pharmacare would improve the lives of so many by ensuring equal access to prescription medications for everyone. Here at home, Canada is making great strides in ensuring equality for LGBTQ2SI communities, but there is still a lot to be done,” added Yussuff.
The federal government has committed to addressing systemic discrimination experienced by LGBTQ2SI people. Canada’s unions have called on the government to do more, including ending the discriminatory ban on blood donation for all men who have sex with men. It’s past time to end this homophobic and transphobic policy once and for all.
Internationally, Canada has also become more engaged on LGBTQ2SI issues. Later this year, Canada will host Leaving No One Behind: the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) Global Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development in Vancouver. Co-chaired by Canada and Chile, the ERC is the first-ever intergovernmental coalition dedicated to the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.
To learn more about the CLC’s pharmacare campaign, visit aplanforeveryone.ca.