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Victoria chapter meets with MP Murray Rankin to discuss the need for pharmacare

Barbara Pollock, Murray Rankin, Eric Doherty, Ted Woynillowicz

The Council of Canadians Victoria chapter met with NDP Member of Parliament Murray Rankin today to discuss our support for a national pharmacare program that would provide universal access to prescription drugs for everyone in this country.

Chapter activist Barbara Pollock tells us, “This morning, three of our board members met with Murray Rankin the NDP-MP for Victoria for the May 27 day of action in support of pharmacare. It’s always a pleasure to meet with Murray who is a strong advocate for public health care. We spent most of our valuable time mainly looking at Pharmacare and how we can have the attention of the public and our federal politicians.”

Getting the attention of federal Liberal politicians on this issue is a critical task.

Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt comments, “Pharmacare is not anywhere near the top of the federal government’s to-do list at present. Health Minister Jane Philpott has been saying repeatedly that her mandate, as far as it concerns drug prices and availability, is limited to getting better deals within the status quo.”

That article adds, “The Commons health committee has been studying the idea of a national pharmacare program off and on since late 2015. As recently as February, in fact, the committee was hearing from experts on how a national drug plan might fit into the Constitution. But neither Philpott nor her government has shown much enthusiasm for the committee’s work — at least so far.” In terms of timelines, that Committee is expected to release a report with recommendations sometime this fall.

Instead of making real change, the Trudeau government intends to tinker with the flawed Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

The Globe and Mail explains, “The review board was created in 1987, when the federal government [under Brian Mulroney] agreed to [lengthen] patent protection for new drugs in exchange for [already highly-profitable] pharmaceutical companies investing the equivalent of 10 per cent of sales in research and development in Canada [which they have not done]. The board can order companies to drop their prices if it deems them to be too high [in comparison to seven other countries].” Health Canada is now proposing to drop the U.S. and Switzerland from that list given the high cost of drugs in those countries. Health Canada’s online consultation on these new regulations runs until June 28.

Council of Canadians chapters are meeting with MPs this week to help build momentum for substantive action on pharmacare.

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