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Four key arguments why pharmacare is needed now

The Council of Canadians is mobilizing for a national day of action in support of pharmacare on May 27 (and the days on either side of that date).

In today’s Toronto Star, Steve Morgan, an expert adviser with EvidenceNetwork.ca and a professor in the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health, makes four key arguments for pharmacare:

1- The most important reason for universal pharmacare in Canada is that access to essential medicines is a human right according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recommends countries protect that right in law and with pharmaceutical policies that work in conjunction with their broader systems of universal health coverage.

2- It would save lives. Canada’s patchwork of private and public drug plans leaves millions of Canadians without coverage. As a result, Canadians are three to five times more likely to skip prescriptions because of cost than are residents of comparable countries with universal pharmacare programs.

3- It would save billions of dollars every year. Canadians spend 50 per cent more per capita on pharmaceuticals than residents of the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand and several other countries with universal pharmacare programs. This amounts to spending $12 billion more each year and still not having pharmacare.

4- It would help Canadian businesses. The rising cost of pharmaceuticals are a growing burden for businesses. Part of the problem is that Canadian employers waste between $3 billion and $5 billion per year because employment-related private insurance is ill equipped to manage pharmaceutical costs effectively.

Morgan highlights, “To make pharmacare a reality for Canada, citizens need to get informed and involved. If they support the idea of universal, public pharmacare, they need to let others, particularly elected officials and political candidates, know they care and that they will support a government that takes action. Without such a groundswell of public engagement, it is unlikely the federal government will implement a universal pharmacare program any time soon.”

On May 27, eleven Council of Canadians chapters across the country will be helping to generate that “groundswell of public engagement” by telling Members of Parliament that pharmacare is needed now.

The timing of this day of action also comes while the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health is studying the idea of pharmacare and prior to the release of their report with recommendations this fall.

To read Morgan’s op-ed, please click here.

To see our materials for the May 27 day of action, click here.

To send your letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicating your support for pharmacare, click here.

To sign e-959, the parliamentary e-petition calling on the federal government to implement universal pharmacare and a national formulary, click here.