One in four households can’t afford their prescription medications

Public health care advocates will be meeting with MPs to discuss pharmacare

On Tuesday, January 29, over 100 public health care advocates from across Canada will be meeting with members of parliament and senators on Parliament Hill to discuss the need for a universal public pharmacare program. This event is organized by the Canadian Health Coalition, a national organization that works to protect and expand public health care in Canada.

“We are the only country in the world with a universal health care that doesn’t include prescription medication,” says Melanie Benard, National Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Canadian Health Coalition. “Millions of Canadians are left out of our patchwork of drug coverage. Many Canadians have no drug coverage at all. One if four households can’t afford their prescription medications. This is unacceptable. Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between buying medication and putting food on the table.”

Canada currently pays some of the highest prices for prescription medications among OECD countries. A national public drug plan would give Canada greater bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

There are currently over 100 000 public and private drug plans in Canada, and they all provide different levels of coverage. Many Canadians have partial drug coverage through work-based private insurance plans. However, they still end up having to pay part of their drug costs through deductibles and co-payments. They also risk losing their coverage if they change or lose their jobs or if they retire. Having coverage therefore doesn’t mean that people are adequately protected.

“Without universal public pharmacare, millions of Canadians are falling through the cracks,” says Pauline Worsfold, RN, Chair of the Canadian Health Coalition. “Many people can’t afford to take their medication as prescribed by their doctors. As a result, they’re getting sicker. They’re having to visit the doctor and the hospital more often. The current system is broken. We need a national public drug plan that covers everyone.”


For more information:

Contact Melanie Benard
National Director, Policy and Advocacy

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Canadian Health Coalition