Social Justice and Democracy

Canada’s unions welcome first steps on pharmacare

March 6, 2019

Canada’s unions welcome the interim report presented today by the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

Its key recommendations begin to address the existing inefficiencies in an unfair system that leaves millions of Canadians unable to afford their prescriptions and grappling with the third highest drug prices in the world.

“The recommendations in today’s report have the potential to increase access and move to lower costs if implemented alongside a universal, national, public pharmacare program,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Advisory Council undertook extensive consultations with Canadians. Their findings confirm what studies and polls have clearly shown: the current system is broken and leaves too many Canadians without the coverage they need. More than 3.6 million Canadians cannot afford to fill their prescriptions, according to government estimates.

“The creation of a national drug agency and the development of a comprehensive, evidence-based national drug formulary are significant changes that will move Canada in the right direction,” said Yussuff. “Delivering this through a pharmacare model designed similarly to Medicare will ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to the medications they need, as they do right now with hospitals and doctors,” he continued.

Over the past two years, the Canadian Labour Congress has been campaigning for a universal pharmacare plan. Over that time, 108,000 people have signed a petition, 26,000 emailed their Member of Parliament and nearly 14,000 made submissions to the Advisory Council urging for the adoption of a universal single-payer public model. This campaign is supported by recent public opinion polls that show 88% of Canadians support a single-payer universal pharmacare program.

“Canadians need a universal pharmacare system and Canada’s unions will be looking to the final report for a comprehensive blueprint for the implementation of a public universal model of pharmacare,” he continued.

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