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Statement on the first draft of Liberal pharmacare bill

The government must deliver legislation for a public, universal, comprehensive program

OTTAWA – The Council of Canadians is alarmed to learn that the first draft of the Liberals’ forthcoming pharmacare bill has failed to fulfill a commitment to a public single-payer system. According to news reports, the NDP has rejected the bill’s first draft, adding that the party will accept nothing short of a universal, single-payer program.

“For a bill that has been promised and anticipated for so long, it’s disappointing to hear that it’s so far from what we need and what the Liberals’ own experts have been recommending – a program that is universal, single-payer, and comprehensive,” said Nikolas Barry-Shaw, pharmacare campaigner at the Council of Canadians.

“This only confirms our fears that the government has been susceptible to the influence of corporate lobbyists who have always wanted a watered-down version of pharmacare,” Barry-Shaw added. “Our previous research has shown that there’s been intense pharmaceutical and insurance industry lobbying ever since the confidence and supply deal first came into effect.”

We are heartened by Health Minister Holland’s remarks that negotiations over the bill remain fluid, and we call on the government to heed the nearly unanimous calls of numerous commissions and experts on pharmacare, virtually all of which have recommended a single-payer public model.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the foundation of pharmacare right. We can’t let this legislation be written by industry lobbyists,” says Robin Tress, Co-Executive Director at the Council of Canadians. “We urge the government to listen to the voices of patients and experts, not corporations who stand to benefit from keeping drug prices high.”

The Council of Canadians, made up of 180,000 supporters and 42 local chapters across the country, has been the leading grassroots voice in the fight for public pharmacare. This year, we have hosted 18 lively town halls, highlighting the voices of patients and experts and mobilizing pharmacare supporters across Canada.

In the coming weeks, The Council of Canadians will be escalating our campaign to put pressure on MPs and the Health Minister to deliver legislation for a public pharmacare plan.

Read the letter we delivered last week to Prime Minister Trudeau and Ministers Holland and Freeland.

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