NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh recently called for the implementation of universal pharmacare, raising speculation that a plan for publicly funded medications will be an election issue in the upcoming federal race this fall.
In the lead-up to a federal by-election in the riding of Burnaby-South in B.C., Singh told reporters that the only way for Canada to provide for its citizens’ pharmacare needs is through publicly funded, comprehensive, universal drug coverage.
The Trudeau government also appears to be warming to the idea of pharmacare, although questions have been raised about how much a Liberal pharmacare plan would cover.
As reported in the StarMetro Vancouver, Council of Canadians Chairperson Leo Broderick said public health care advocates would be happy to see pharmacare become a federal election issue this fall. Broderick recently joined other advocates for a lobby day on Parliament Hill to press MPs to support a national pharmacare program.
“At the moment, there are over 100 private drug plans in Canada, with different levels of coverage, and many, many different insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies involved,” he told the StarMetro. “That’s the problem. We’re up against insurance companies and Big Pharma.”
Critics who say that taxes would skyrocket are using “inaccurate rhetoric,” according to Broderick. He said the Council’s latest research estimates Canada could save up to $11.4 billion per year by negotiating lower prices for medication through bulk purchasing plans and by reducing administration fees.
Canada is currently the only country in the world with universal health care but no national drug plan. Instead, we have a patchwork of private and public pharmacare plans that don’t fully cover costs of medicine for everyone.
Studies have shown that one in 10 people cannot afford their medications and people often have to choose between paying for things like rent and food or the medications they need.
Read more about the Council of Canadians’ campaign for pharmacare.