Canada’s labour leaders encourage premiers to embrace universal pharmacare

SASKATOON – The presidents of federations of labour from across the country are in Saskatoon during the Council of the Federation meeting to encourage Canada’s premiers to embrace a public, single-payer, universal pharmacare program.

“The evidence is clear – a public universal pharmacare program will provide equal access and coverage for all Canadians, reduce drug prices, and save billions of dollars,” said Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan. "The only barrier between Canadians and universal pharamcare is political will. That’s why we are encouraging provincial premiers to work with the federal government to make a public universal pharmacare program a reality.”

On June 12, 2019 the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released its final report, A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All. The Advisory Council recommended that the government implement a public, single-payer, universal pharmacare program modeled after our Medicare system.

“Canada is the only industrialized country with universal Medicare that does not have universal coverage for prescription medicines. A public universal pharmacare program modeled after Medicare will improve the lives of all Canadians,” said McGowan. “While Big Pharma and the insurance industry are trying to undermine the Advisory Council’s report, we are working even harder on behalf of families across the country to make sure Canada’s premiers step up to the challenge of delivering universal pharmacare.”  

Almost 1 in 4 households reported that over the previous 12 months, they or someone in their household, did not take their medicines as prescribed, if at all, because of the cost. About one third of working Canadians don't have employer-funded prescription drug coverage and even those with drug plans are paying ever-increasing co-payments and deductibles.

Two reports released in 2017 demonstrate that a universal pharmacare plan will save Canada billions of dollars. The first, by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Canadian Doctors for Medicare, estimates pharmacare would mean almost $11 billion a year in savings for federal, provincial and territorial governments, the private sector and individual Canadians. A second, more conservative report released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, estimates savings of $4.2 billion a year for the federal government alone. It used Quebec’s model – the most expensive in Canada – in its calculations, and did not take into account savings for the provinces and territories.

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Gil McGowan


780-218-9888 or [email protected]