The clock is ticking on the Canada Pharmacare Act, warns Health Coalition
This letter from the Canadian Health Coalition was published in The Hill Times on June 15, 2022.
Pollsters say a strong majority of Canadians support the Liberal-NDP confidence-and-supply agreement, which promises significant improvements in public health care.
Last week, Nanos Research found nearly 60 percent of Canadians were comfortable or somewhat comfortable with the three-year agreement, confirming other surveys taken since the deal was announced in March.
And why wouldn’t there be strong approval? Canadians want Parliament to work, especially on key aspects of the deal that were touted by the party leaders, such as dental care and pharmacare.
But the clock is ticking. In return for the NDP’s support, the Liberals promised to launch a new dental care program for low-income Canadians, starting with under 12-year-olds before the end of this year. They also committed to passing a Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of next year and tabling a Safe Long-Term Care Act before the agreement runs out in 2025.
Fortunately, pharmacare is essentially “shovel ready.” A letter to the prime minister signed by 1,000 health professionals and academic experts—including former federal health minister Dr. Jane Philpott—said that the 2019 Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by former Ontario health minister Dr. Eric Hoskins, provides the government with sufficient detail to guide implementation, beginning with universal, public coverage of essential medications in 2022.
The question is: will Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos follow the Council’s rigorous, evidence-based plan for a public, single-payer pharmacare program?
Has the minister tasked his officials with drafting the legislation and consulting with other departments? Will the government assign sufficient legislative priority so that the deadline of passing the Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of 2023 will not be missed?
The Canadian Health Coalition is ready to work with MPs, Senators, and officials to fill this glaring gap in our public health-care system with a universal pharmacare program.