Canada’s unions say pharmacare council gets it right, now governments must act

June 12, 2019

Canada’s unions are applauding the recommendation made by the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare for the adoption of a public, universal and single-payer plan for prescription drug coverage across Canada.

“Universal pharmacare will fundamentally improve the lives of all Canadians and, with this report, we finally have a blueprint for completing the medicare system Canada first adopted back in 1966,” said Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) President Hassan Yussuff. “Canada’s unions have been a leading voice advocating for a public, universal and single-payer plan and today’s report shows that the Advisory Council has listened to the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who demanded a pharmacare plan for everyone.”

In their final report, released today, the Council concluded that Canada’s current patchwork system of prescription drug coverage is inadequate, unfair and inefficient. It is a conclusion long supported by public opinion, health economists and medical professionals, but one that has been vigorously opposed by big pharma and the insurance lobby. Despite industry pressure, the Council has recommended that the federal government work with the provinces to implement a universal pharmacare program.

“The evidence overwhelmingly shows that a public universal pharmacare program will provide equal access and coverage for all Canadians, reduce drug prices, and save employers and taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Yussuff. “While Canada’s unions do not support the copayments and user fees in the report, the report clearly charts a path in the right direction.”

Recent polls show that 89% of Canadians consistently say they support universal public pharmacare. Canada remains the only country with a national medicare program that doesn’t provide national coverage for pharmacare.

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to fully embrace the report and work together to accelerate its implementation.

“Everyone with a health card in this country should be able to access the prescription medications they need,” said Yussuff. “This report lays out a roadmap to universal pharmacare and now it is up to governments to follow it. There is no doubt this will be a ballot box question in the federal election.”

Tags: Pharmacare

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