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New data shows pharmaceutical lobbying of the federal government has quadrupled since NDP-Liberal confidence-and-supply agreement

Coalition of public pharmacare advocates calling on government to listen to patients, implement pharmacare now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Feb. 9, 2023

OTTAWA – New data released by the Fight for Pharmacare Alliance, a coalition of patient advocates, unions, and health professionals, reveals lobbyists from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries have ramped up their meetings on Parliament Hill since the confidence-and-supply agreement was signed in March 2022.

As part of the agreement, the Trudeau government committed to passing a Canada Pharmacare Act before the end of 2023, in exchange for support from the NDP. Industry opponents of pharmacare have lobbied Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and his officials 150 times in the nine months following the signing of the agreement – a staggering three to four meetings per week, every week, since the announcement of the deal.  

The insurance industry has led the lobbying charge, logging five times more meetings than usual with Health Canada in the post-confidence-and-supply agreement period. A major presence on the Hill already, the pharmaceutical industry increased its lobbying of Health Canada by almost four times relative to the pre-pandemic period. The insurance industry wants the government to give them public funds, instead of investing it in a public program. This is another step towards privatization and a scenario like this would only line the pockets of rich companies while the rest of Canadians continue to struggle to afford the medications they desperately need.

The Fight for Pharmacare Alliance is calling on the government to implement a public pharmacare system now, as outlined by the Advisory Council on Implementing National Pharmacare. The coalition is hosting a series of town halls across the country this spring to bring the stories of people with lived experience to the forefront of the pharmacare debate.  

QUOTES:

Nikolas Barry-Shaw, Trade and Privatization Campaigner, Council of Canadians: 

“Big Pharma is terrified that a national pharmacare plan will allow Canada to bring down drug prices, which are the third-highest in the OECD world. But what might be a nightmare for the pharmaceutical giants is a dream for Canadians, millions of whom struggle to afford their medications. We need public, single-payer pharmacare and we need it now.”

Bill Swan, Founder, Faces of Pharmacare:

“If any part of a health system excludes just a single person to make a buck, that system is wrong. Canada’s mirroring of the U.S. system for pharmaceuticals means sick Canadians are excluded from drug coverage, lose jobs due to high-cost illness and leave young people in the gig economy out-of-luck. True national public Pharmacare can right these wrongs.”

Pauline Worsfold, RN, Chairperson, Canadian Health Coalition:

“People are suffering. They can’t go without their medications and it’s leading to early deaths. Filled prescriptions mean empty emergency rooms, and a universal single-payer pharmacare program not only saves money, but more importantly, saves lives.”

Siobhan Vipond, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress:

“Canada’s unions are urging the government to act on its promise to implement publicly funded, and delivered, Pharmacare program. We are seeing public health care failing across the country. Health workers are pushed to their limits. It is up to governments to act to help people access the care they need. What we are asking from this government is quite simple: put people first!”

PDF: Liberal-NDP Confidence and Supply Agreement Led to Surge in Industry Lobbying

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To receive a copy of the research brief or for media inquiries, please contact:
Geneviève Charest, Council of Canadians, gcharest@canadians.org, 613-240-2631

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.