Social Justice and Democracy

Canada moves one step closer to universal pharmacare

April 18, 2018

Canada’s unions are celebrating today’s announcement by the Standing Committee on Health that recommends a single-payer, universal prescription drug plan for Canada. The recommendation came in its report Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for all Canadians, tabled in the House of Commons today.

Nearly 100 expert witnesses presented to the Committee, with the majority arguing that Canada needs universal, comprehensive, and publicly-administered prescription drug coverage.

“This announcement reinforces what we’ve heard at town hall meetings across the country: the current patchwork prescription drug system isn’t working. This is a great first step that will hopefully lay the groundwork for implementation of universal pharmacare in Canada,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

Last fall, the CLC launched a national campaign calling for universal pharmacare. Its pan-Canadian pharmacare town hall tour has so far visited 23 communities and garnered nearly 30,000 petition signatures and 7,000 emails to Members of Parliament.

“Over 3 million Canadians can’t afford their prescriptions and many people have reported skipping doses or splitting pills to stretch out their prescriptions,” said Yussuff. “Everyone knows someone who can’t afford to take their medication as directed.”

Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan. Coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Earlier this year, the government committed to a pathway to establishing universal pharmacare in its federal budget.

“Nobody should have to choose between paying for groceries and paying for the medication they need. That’s why we need a pharmacare plan that covers all Canadians, regardless of their age, income or where they live or work,” he said.

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