Editor: For decades – all the way back to the 1950s and 60s, politicians and advocates have been talking about including comprehensive and universal drug coverage in our health-care system. Nearly 75 years after the initial public hospital care first appeared in Canada, it is about time we move forward with universal drug coverage.
In a country so proud of our health-care system, the pandemic has laid bare the decades of underfunding and shortsighted decisions by governments of all stripes. If we truly want to be proud of our health-care system, people should be able to access life-saving and life-altering medications without worrying how they are going to pay for them.
It is hard to understand how someone does not pay for their drugs while in hospital, but as soon as they walk out the door, they are on their own to figure out how to pay for the medication.
Everyday, thousands of Canadians are forced to make the decision between choosing their medication, paying their bills, or putting food on the table. In a country like ours, this should not be happening.
According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer in 2017, a National Pharmacare Plan would cost $19 billion. Governments across Canada already spend $13.1 billion on medication. This would lead to a decrease in the overall spending on drugs, which totals nearly $30 billion annually. It would also be economically viable as this would alleviate the private drug insurance plans many businesses need to offer to attract top talent, freeing funds to hire more staff, or perhaps pay their staff more in direct income.
The benefits of a national pharmacare plan cannot be understated and after 75 years of public healthcare coverage it’s time for our politicians at both provincial and federal levels to stop talking and start acting.