Canada’s unions urge federal government to work with health ministers on pharmacare

October 18, 2017

Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff says he is optimistic that pharmacare will emerge as a priority in this week’s meeting between federal and provincial and territorial health ministers.

The CLC will join other organizations advocating for pharmacare at the meetings taking place in Edmonton this Thursday and Friday October 19 and 20.

“We will be there to encourage the health ministers to take steps that would advance the discussion around implementation of a universal prescription drug plan that would cover everyone in Canada, regardless of age, income or where they live,” said Yussuff.

At July’s Council of the Federation meeting, provincial and territorial premiers called on the federal government to continue to collaborate with them and engage actively in discussions about establishing a national pharmacare plan.

Since then, the Parliamentary Budget Officer issued a report using the Quebec government’s public prescription drug plan formulary to estimate universal pharmacare would yield annual savings of $4.2 billion.

second report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Canadian Doctors for Medicare used a more efficient model to estimate net annual savings of $11 billion.

Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan. Instead, our multiple-payer system has resulted in the second highest prescription drug costs in the world next to the United States. That’s left 3.5 million Canadians unable to afford their prescriptions.

This past Labour Day, on the heels of a successful bid to expand the Canada Pension Plan, Canada’s unions launched a campaign calling for a national pharmacare plan.