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Kitchener-Waterloo chapter writes letter to the editor backing pharmacare for all

Photo from EvidenceNetwork.ca

The Council of Canadians Kitchener-Waterloo chapter has had a letter to the editor published in the Waterloo Region Record in support of pharmacare.

On May 30, the Waterloo Region Record published an op-ed by Marc-André Gagnon, a Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, who noted, “While it might seem counter-intuitive, universality is no free ride for the rich. On the contrary, if everyone has to pay, for example, a one per cent income tax for universal drug coverage, the millionaire will end up paying significantly more than a daycare worker earning $40,000 per year.”

Gagnon adds, “Most people don’t know it, but our current system, driven largely by private drug coverage, already offers significant tax subsidies to top income earners. Private drug benefits in Canada are not counted as income and, thus, not taxable. It has been estimated that the federal government pays around 13 per cent of the cost of private drug benefits in Canada through tax subsidies, to which provincial governments add around an additional seven per cent.”

He then highlights, “Keep in mind that Canadians spend around $10 billion on prescription drugs through private drug benefits every year — no small potatoes. While around 20 per cent of these plans are paid for by public tax subsidies, around 30 per cent of all spending on private drug plans is for the private coverage of public employees. In other words, the current way we spend public money on private drug coverage is unfair. It is also inefficient.”

His full argument can be read here.

In a follow-up letter to the editor, chapter activist Ron Ward notes, “This column reinforces the arguments for a universal Canadian pharmacare plan, now. Despite decades of lobbying for it and the $14 billion per year it can save us, Canada is the only universal health plan country without pharmacare.”

Ward adds, “With the recent flood of information from such columns and efforts like the Council of Canadians campaign, the drug lobby logjam seems finally to be pushed aside with competitive plans proposed by political rivals. However, we still need to get the facts and let politicians know it is time Canada caught up to the peace of mind, protection and massive savings that everyone else has been enjoying since Justin Trudeau’s dad had his chance to do it for us.”

Ward’s letter can be read here.

Over the past two weeks, 17 Council of Canadians chapters mobilized – through meetings with their Member of Parliament, leafleting at public gatherings and at a public forum, and through letters to the editor like this one – in support of a national pharmacare program that would provide universal access to prescription drugs for everyone in this country.

To tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Health Minister Jane Philpott it’s time for pharmacare, please go to on our online action alert here.