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Pharmacare legislation tabled

Following a groundswell of grassroots support, NDP tables pharmacare bill

Private member’s bill introduced on the heels of 16-city tour of town halls for pharmacare

OTTAWA, ON – The Council of Canadians applauds the introduction of legislation by the NDP’s Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) to create a public, universal, and comprehensive pharmacare program and urges the Trudeau government to adopt the private member’s bill. The Council of Canadians has been calling for a public pharmacare system since 2001 and recently completed a cross-Canada, 16-city series of town halls calling for this expansion of our public health care system.

“Making sure people have the medications they need will make them healthier while saving our health system billions of dollars,” said Robin Tress, co-executive director of the Council of Canadians. “This bill would satisfy one of the key planks of the Liberal-NDP deal, and we encourage the Trudeau government to support it.”

Under the supply-and-confidence agreement, the Trudeau government committed to passing pharmacare legislation by the end of 2023. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies massively increased their lobbying in response, as research by the Council revealed in February.

“Pharmacare is overwhelmingly popular and urgently needed, but it has been stalled by powerful corporate interests, like drug pricing reforms,” said Tress. “This bill could help break the stalemate.”

“The emphasis on a public, single-payer drug plan that covers everyone is a strong element in Mr. Davies’ bill,” said Nik Barry-Shaw, trade and privatization campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “It’s what we’ve been calling for at our town hall meetings and it’s what the Trudeau government’s own expert body told them to do more than four years ago.”

On June 12, 2019, the Advisory Council on Implementing National Pharmacare led by Dr. Eric Hoskins submitted its report to the Trudeau government, calling for a comprehensive, public pharmacare plan.

Pharmaceutical and insurance companies have been lobbying against a public, single-payer system in favour of continuing with the existing patchwork of public and private drug insurance plans. The Hoskins report described Canada’s current way of providing drug coverage as, “a costly administrative nightmare, with little purchasing power to negotiate the best drug prices.”

“Under our current non-system of drug coverage, Canadians are getting sick, going into debt, and even dying because of high drug prices and a lack of drug coverage, and things have only gotten worse as inflation has risen,” said Barry-Shaw. An estimated 3.4 million people in Canada cannot afford to take their medication as prescribed, and over a third (34%) of Canadians say they are struggling to afford their prescription drug costs due to inflation. “We need to end these injustices and with pharmacare, we can.”


Media inquiries:

Nik Barry-Shaw
Trade and Privatization Campaigner
Council of Canadians
Mobile: (514)825-2263

The Council of Canadians brings people together through collective action and grassroots organizing to challenge corporate power and advocate for people, the planet, and our democracy. For more than 35 years, the Council has fought for values based on fair and sustainable trade, clean water, climate justice, democracy, and stronger public health care. We are a registered non-profit organization and do not accept money from corporations or governments.

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