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Eleven chapters to participate in May 27 pharmacare day of action

Health Minister Jane Philpott says pharmacare is not part of her mandate, but people want to see action on this significant issue.

With one month still to go, 11 Council of Canadians chapters have expressed their interest in participating in a day of action in support of pharmacare on Saturday May 27 (or in the days just before or after this date).

Those 11 chapters are: Hamilton, Peterborough-Kawarthas, Peel Region, Thunder Bay, Kitchener-Waterloo, Vancouver-Burnaby, Comox Valley, Kamloops, Quill Plains (Wynyard), Winnipeg, and Prince Edward Island.

While this poll has shown that 91 per cent of Canadians want pharmacare, and this report notes that implementing it could save up to $14 billion dollars annually, Health Minister Jane Philpott stated last April that pharmacare is not part of her mandate, that it is too costly, and that it will not be introduced in this Parliament.

At the same time, the Trudeau government is pushing hard for the provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that lengthens the patent protection for drugs and that researchers say will add between $850 million and $1.65 billion each year to our costs. How is it that we can afford CETA but not pharmacare?

We also need to keep in mind the NAFTA negotiations that could begin this August.

Toronto Star national affairs columnist Thomas Walkom has cautioned, “Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Don’t be surprised if he takes a swipe at medicare.” And the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has noted the risk of a NAFTA Chapter 11 investment protection challenge because, “Full public financing could displace private insurers that currently cover drug expenses that are brought into a Pharmacare program.”

The House of Commons will begin its summer recess on June 12 and return on September 18 with its fall legislative agenda. The meetings with MPs on May 27 are intended to help inform that agenda (with just over two years left before the next election).

To assist with this, the Council of Canadians has produced this 36-page report (plus a 4-page executive summary), a tips on lobbying your Member of Parliament fact sheet, a facts and figures fact sheet, sample letters to the editor and this brochure.

We are also producing a 4-minute handimation video that will be available for sharing in the coming weeks.

And we have commissioned a new poll to determine the level of support for pharmacare among Liberal voters (the survey will be conducted by the polling firm Environics Research Group next week).

In the meantime, you can join with the thousands who have already sent this letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Health Minister Jane Philpott calling on them to take immediate action on pharmacare.