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Winnipeg chapter meets with MP Daniel Blaikie to talk about the need to implement pharmacare

Daniel Blaikie, Brigette DePape, Jobb Arnold

The Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter and Winnipeg-based Prairies-Northwest Territories organizer Brigette DePape met with NDP Member of Parliament Daniel Blaikie today to discuss our support for a national pharmacare program that would provide universal access to prescription drugs for everyone in this country.

DePape tells us, “We had a great meeting today. Chapter activist Jobb Arnold and myself met with Daniel Blaikie at his constituency office in Elmwood-Transcona. We agreed that there is broad public support for pharmacare and that the task is not to build public support for it because it is already there. The task is to get it implemented.”

This past week the Council of Canadians released the results of an Environics poll that confirmed a high level of support for pharmacare in this country – 91 per cent would support Trudeau implementing pharmacare.

Unfortunately, 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. 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.

But 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 increase public pressure on them to take 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.