Social Justice and Democracy

No one should have to choose between keeping their family home and paying for life-saving drugs

November 16, 2017

As part of its national campaign for universal pharmacare, the Canadian Labour Congress has launched a powerful new video telling the story of Judy Pope, a Cambridge, Ontario woman forced to make an impossible choice: pay for medication that would prolong her life, or keep her family’s finances and home intact.

A cancer-fighting medication had kept Judy Pope alive for five years, but when her husband Gary’s health insurance switched to a new provider, a cap on coverage meant the Popes were faced with medication costs of more than $3,000 a month.

Judy Pope’s painful choice is chronicled in a new CLC video launched online on November 16. The video is meant to encourage Canadians to share the Popes’ story and to add their voice to an online petition that has so far garnered thousands of signatures from across Canada.

“Canadians know it is simply unacceptable that anyone should have to choose between bankrupting their family and saying no to a life-saving drug,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “It’s time our governments took action.”

Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan. Our patchwork prescription drug system is inefficient and expensive, and has resulted in the second highest prescription drug costs in the world next to the United States.

Today, 3.5 million Canadians can’t afford to fill their prescriptions. For many, that has meant serious consequences for their health. And for some, like Judy Pope, it has meant giving up the chance at a longer life.

  • About one third of working Canadians don’t have employer-funded prescription drug coverage.
  • The less someone earns at work, the less likely they are to have prescription drug coverage.
  • Women and young workers are less likely to have the coverage they need.
  • Half of Canadians worry that some day they’ll have trouble paying for medication they need. That includes almost half of those with prescription drug coverage today.

“Canada’s unions 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 medication they need,” said Yussuff.

“That’s why we’re working to win a universal prescription drug plan that covers everyone in Canada, regardless of their income, age, or where they work or live,” he added.

Tags: Health Care
  • Social Justice and Democracy
  • Canada’s unions celebrate end to discriminatory blood donation policy

    April 28, 2022
    Click to open the link
  • Social Justice and Democracy
  • Every worker deserves ten days paid sick leave

    February 24, 2022
    Click to open the link
  • Jobs, Economy and Environment
  • Welcome progress in first 100 days – but much work to do in next 100 weeks

    February 2, 2022
    Click to open the link
  • Social Justice and Democracy
  • Health investments must be tied to stronger public health care

    February 1, 2022
    Click to open the link
  • Jobs, Economy and Environment
  • Canada’s unions calling for greater protections and supports for migrant workers

    December 17, 2021
    Click to open the link
  • Social Justice and Democracy
  • Canada’s unions demand government take concrete steps to implement pharmacare in upcoming fiscal update

    December 8, 2021
    Click to open the link
  • Jobs, Economy and Environment
  • Rank and file union members engage MPs with powerful stories about the need to end seniors’ clawbacks

    December 3, 2021
    Click to open the link
  • Gender Equality
  • MPs must listen to workers and take action on a fair recovery that makes life more affordable

    November 29, 2021
    Click to open the link