Pharmacare now, PEI Health Coalition tells Liberal cabinet
The PEI Health Coalition sent a strong message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal cabinet as they met in Charlottetown on Tuesday, August 22: universal pharmacare now.
PEI Health Coalition Chair Mary Boyd told CBC, “Drugs are unaffordable. And at a higher level with more serious illnesses, drugs are just out of sight for people.”
Health Minister Mark Holland has said legislation to implement a pharmacare program will be tabled this fall.
In a commentary to the Hill Times published on August 9, Canadian Health Coalition Coalition Chair Pauline Worsfold, RN, told the newly appointed health minister that, “Pharmacare is what I like to call a win-win-win. It’s a win for the provinces, a win for the federal government which introduces it, and most importantly a win for Canadians, who need to access necessary medications.”
Public pharmacare advocates want to see a universal, single-payer system and not a fill-the-gaps approach that would leave people without the medicine they need and be more costly in the end.
In a submission for the consultation on the 2024 budget, Steven Staples, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Canadian Health Coalition, called for $3.5 billion to implement a universal pharmacare program. That figure comes from the 2019 government-appointed Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare on how much it would cost to give essential medicine to everyone.
Pharmaceutical and private health insurance companies have been lobbying against a universal program, which have many worried about the kind of pharmacare program that will be delivered this fall.
“Canadians deserve better than fake pharmacare,” wrote Melanie Bechard and Jasmine Gite with Canadian Doctors for Medicare in a commentary for the Toronto Star on August 2.
“Pharmacare offers a glimmer of hope. About 1-in-5 Canadians do not have coverage for prescription medication. As physicians, we often see patients ration their medication and skip doses due to their high costs, which leads to preventable complications,” wrote Bechard, a pediatric emergency physician, and Gite, a family physician.
As Mary Boyd, with the PEI Health Coalition, reminded Trudeau and his cabinet this week: “We need it and we need it now.”
Tracy Glynn is the National Director of Projects and Operations for the Canadian Health Coalition