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Statement on PBO report on single-payer universal drug plan 

Statement by Robin Tress, Co-Executive Director of the Council of Canadians

OTTAWA – We welcome the findings of a new report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which shows that a universal, public pharmacare plan would dramatically expand people’s access to much-needed medications while also saving Canadians at least $2.2 billion in drug costs.

The report shows that a public plan would increase prescription drug use by at least 13.5 per cent. With 750 million prescriptions currently filled each year1, that would mean at least 100 million new prescriptions – bringing huge relief for the nearly 3 million people who have been skipping their medication because of high cost.2

The real savings for Canadians under a public plan could be even higher. While the PBO report estimates that a single-payer system would cost 5.4 per cent less than the current system, other estimates have been far less conservative – including a previous PBO report that pegged savings at 17.1 per cent.

The only real beneficiary of our current fragmented system is the pharmaceutical industry, which charges Canadians on average 25 per cent more for drugs here than in other countries with universal drug coverage.

We urge the Liberal government to introduce legislation for a public, universal, comprehensive pharmacare program without delay.

1 The Canadian Pharmacists Association

2 The Hoskins Report