Implement public universal pharmacare

The issue:

The patient pays: Our public Medicare system does not cover the cost of prescription medicines, leaving many patients on the hook to pay for necessary drugs unless they’re in a hospital.

No coverage: One-in-five people report they do not have private drug insurance – from low-paid workers to self-employed entrepreneurs (Cortes & Smith, 2022). It’s an issue of affordability for families. Immigrants and racialized people are hit especially hard.

People don’t heal: This situation leaves people struggling to pay for essential medicine, or they might skip taking their meds for their physical or mental health altogether. Their condition worsens, and they may end up in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

The solution:

Hoskins Report: In 2019 after extensive consultations, the federal government’s Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, recommended: “the federal government work with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders to establish universal, single-payer, public pharmacare in Canada” (Health Canada, 2019).

Universal coverage: The Hoskins plan will expand Medicare to provide universal publicly-funded and publicly-delivered drug coverage to everyone in Canada, based on their medical need and not their ability to pay.

Save lives and money: Not only will pharmacare save lives, many families would save hundreds, and potentially thousands of dollars each year, too. Employers will save money on private health coverage costs, while provinces and territories will reap billions of dollars in savings through bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals.

“Eight in ten Canadians support the federal government taking primary responsibility for funding Pharmacare in order to make sure all provinces and territories implement equitable and universal drug coverage as quickly as possible.”

Environics Research. (2023). Attitudes towards pharmacare 2023. [Slide presentation]. Retrieved from

Cortes, K. & Smith, L. (2022). Pharmaceutical access and use during the pandemic. Retrieved from Statistics Canada website

Health Canada. (2019). A prescription for Canada: Achieving pharmacare for all – final report of the advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. Retrieved from

Read more:

Canadian Health Coalition. (February, 2024). Parliamentarians’ Briefing Note 2024