Encouraging investments in pharmacare in Budget 2019

For immediate release: The Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) is encouraged that Budget 2019 includes some initial investments in the foundations of a new national pharmacare program. The government committed to creating a new national drug agency that will be responsible for developing and managing an evidence-based national drug formulary. This agency will also negotiate the prices of medications with manufacturers and assess the effectiveness of new medications.

The creation of this new agency was among the recommendations in the Interim Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare, which was released on March 5. The government is proposing $35 million over four years to establish a Canadian Drug Agency Transition Office.

“We’re pleased that the government is following through on some of the Advisory Council’s preliminary recommendations,” said Melanie Benard, the National Director of Policy and Advocacy at the CHC. “The new national agency and the national formulary are key elements of Canada’s new pharmacare program. But we would have liked for the government to have gone further and followed through on all of the Council’s recommendations. The government missed the opportunity to invest in drug data and information technology systems, which would allow us to track prescriptions across the country.”

Canada is the only country in the world with a universal health care system that doesn’t include universal coverage of prescription medications. About twenty percent of Canadians lack adequate drug coverage. One in four households can’t afford their prescription medications. One million Canadians have to choose between food and heat or buying the medication they need.

“In a country as wealthy as Canada, this is totally unacceptable,” said Benard. “The current patchwork system of drug coverage is inequitable and inefficient. Millions of Canadians are falling through the cracks. We’re glad the government has recognized the importance of this issue. Now we need to make sure they build the right kind of program. Our new pharmacare program must be publicly administered and delivered, universal, comprehensive, accessible and portable. That’s the only way to ensure that everyone in Canada can access the prescription medications they need.”


For more information:

Contact Melanie Benard
National Director, Policy and Advocacy

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Canadian Health Coalition