Skip to content

House of Commons standing committee calls for universal single-payer pharmacare plan

In May 2017, Council of Canadians North Shore chapter activist Berta Gaulke delivered our pharmacare campaign materials to the office of Bill Casey, the Liberal MP who chairs the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health that today recommended a single-payer universal public prescription drug plan.

The Council of Canadians welcomes the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health’s report on pharmacare.

The Canadian Press reports, “A parliamentary committee is recommending that prescription medications be publicly funded across Canada under a universal pharmacare program. The report includes 18 recommendations that it describes as a blueprint for establishing a single-payer, publicly funded prescription drug coverage program for all Canadians.”

The CBC adds, “The all-party committee … looked at two possible options for pharmacare. The first was a universal single-payer public prescription drug plan — which it settled on as its recommendation. The second option was to look at reforming the system to plug the gaps between public and private plans to ensure wider coverage.”

That article highlights, “The committee said that Canadians who pay for their drug plans through workplace health insurance would pay for their medications through their taxes instead. The cost to employers would drop, which would allow them to look at covering dental and optical services, or hiring more staff.”

Our ally the Canadian Health Coalition welcomed the report noting, “The committee also proposes serious improvements to the protection of Canadians from the self-interest of pharmaceutical companies. New drugs would be evaluated by an independent government agency free of influence by pharmaceutical companies.”

And Elizabeth Kwan, the senior researcher for the Canadian Labour Congress, has just tweeted, “Parliamentary Standing Committee #HESA recommends a public universal #Pharmacare Plan because after 2 years of studying & hearing from patients, #cdns and experts – this is the best #planforeveyone!”

In late-February, the federal government appointed Dr. Eric Hoskins to chair an advisory council with the goal recommending options on how to ‘ensure every Canadian has access to the medicine they need’. That council is to report to the government in spring 2019. Today, Liberal MP Bill Casey stated this council will be helpful in working out the complexities of implementing pharmacare.

The NDP has fully backed today’s report and called on the Trudeau government to act on this issue. NDP MP Peter Julian says, “I think its very clear. Mr Trudeau doesn’t have any more excuses not to act.”

To read the 18 recommendations in the committee’s report, go to pages 85-88 of the full report here.