Social Justice and Democracy

Canada’s unions: workers have waited long enough to pass Bill C-64, An Act Respecting Pharmacare

June 18, 2024

Bruske: The Senate must pass the bill without amendments or further delays.

OTTAWA- Pharmacare is about ensuring that families across Canada have access to better health care by covering prescription medications. It fills a critical gap in our healthcare system but, the Senate’s delay in passing Bill C-64 is jeopardizing this critical legislation.

“Millions of Canadians have waited long enough to benefit from free diabetes medication and birth control,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “The Senate needs to pass the bill without amendments before they break for the summer.”

Canada’s current drug insurance system is a fragmented patchwork of 100 public and over 100,000 private plans, causing major disparities in accessibility, affordability, and coverage. This inconsistency leaves millions of Canadians struggling to afford their prescriptions.

Each province and territory operates its own distinct prescription drug plans, creating a complex system further exacerbated by the disparities among private insurers. As a result, 7.5 million Canadians lack insurance coverage and bear the cost of their medications out-of-pocket.

“Pharmacare is the most significant enhancement to our healthcare system since the introduction of public healthcare in Canada. The urgency for this cannot be overstated. Nearly one million Canadians have had to sacrifice basic necessities like food and heating to afford medications, and another million have resorted to borrowing money,” added Bruske.

“For too long, many among us have struggled to afford their life-saving prescription drugs, making risky tradeoffs between following doctor’s orders and paying the rent,” says Manuel Arango, Heart & Stroke’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy. “This bill is a historic first step toward equal access to prescription drugs for all people in Canada. We urge the government to seize this moment and pass the Pharmacare Act before the end of June.”

‘’Over 50 civil society organizations under the CHC umbrella endorse and support Bill C-64, the Pharmacare Act, a cause we’ve advocated for decades. Representing various sectors including healthcare, seniors, migrant rights, sexual health, and women’s rights, we urge the Senate to swiftly pass Bill C-64. It’s vital for millions to access free birth control and diabetes medication.” Jason Maclean, Chair, Canadian Health Coalition

Implementing pharmacare will save money for Canadians. With a national pharmacare program, bulk purchasing and streamlined administration can reduce overall drug costs, putting money back into the pockets of families. Pharmacare will also alleviate the strain on our healthcare system.

The swift passage of Bill C-64, An Act respecting Pharmacare, is necessary for millions of Canadians to access free birth control and diabetes medication, providing much-needed relief from the high cost of living.

Canada’s unions are calling on all Senators to stop withholding Bill C-64, a crucial piece of legislation that will put money back in people’s pockets, and allow easier access to diabetes medications as well as allow women greater freedom over their sexual and reproductive health.

Our message to Senators is clear: Pass Bill C-64 without further delays.

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