Canadians can’t afford to wait for pharmacare: Canada’s unions

September 28, 2017

Canada’s unions say today’s report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer is more evidence that we can’t afford to wait for a universal prescription drug plan.

The report uses the Quebec government’s public prescription drug plan formulary – one critiqued by experts as inefficient and expensive – to nonetheless estimate that a single-payer universal prescription drug plan would save Canada $4.2 billion annually.

“Even using the worst-case scenario, the PBO says Canada would save billions a year,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff. “It’s clear that we can’t afford to wait any longer for a universal prescription drug plan for all Canadians.”

A report issued earlier this week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Canadian Doctors for Medicare uses a more efficient model and estimates savings of more than $30 billion annually.

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.

  • About 8.4 million working Canadians don’t have prescription drug coverage.
  • The less you earn at work, the less likely you are to have prescription drug coverage.
  • Women and young workers are less likely to have the coverage they need.
  • Even those with drug plans are paying ever-increasing co-payments and deductibles.

This Labour Day, Canada’s unions launched a campaign calling for pharmacare.

“We are proud that we’ve won health insurance coverage for many of our members, but we believe anyone with a health card should have coverage for the medicines they need, regardless of their income, age or where they work or live,” said Yussuff.

“We know that Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders recognize the need for a pharmacare plan too, so we are asking the federal government to commit to coordinating with them to make this a reality as soon as possible,” he added.