Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare recommends a single-payer, universal, public pharmacare system
Today was a historical day for public health care. The Advisory Council for the Implementation of National Pharmacare released its final report, recommending a universal, single-payer pharmacare program. Following a year-long consultation process with Canadians and stakeholder groups, the Advisory Council has taken the first major step towards finally achieving a national prescription drug plan for all.
“Canadians have spoken and have said clearly that we don’t want to wait another 53 years to implement a national pharmacare plan,” says Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “After decades of advocacy and report after report calling for a national pharmacare program, Friends of Medicare is pleased to finally be seeing progress on this important issue that has impacted the lives and well-being of Canadians for so long.”
This pharmacare program would mark the first major expansion of our health care since the inception of Medicare over 5 decades ago, and is something that Canadians have been waiting for ever since. Canada is the only country in the world with a universal health system that does not cover prescription drugs.
The report recommends a pharmacare program that follows the principles of the Canada Health Act: one which is publicly funded and administered, universal, comprehensive, accessible and portable. Friends of Medicare is pleased to see that the values that we have been advocating for decades are being reflected by the recommendations of this report.
Under our existing patchwork of private and public plans, one in five households in Alberta experience financial barriers to getting their prescribed medications, while one third of Alberta’s workers don’t have health benefits. Once implemented, the Advisory Council’s universal single-payer plan will ensure safe, timely, equitable access to medications – saving the lives of countless Canadians a year and billions of dollars in savings for employers, employees and households.
This is a big victory for pharmacare advocates and all Canadians across the country. But this is really only the beginning. Now, we must pressure all political parties to include universal, public pharmacare in their election platforms. We need to see the political will from whoever will be leading this country following the next federal election to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Council, and ensure that we finally achieve equitable access to medications for all Canadians. Given the jurisdictional authority that provinces have, Friends of Medicare will also be expecting our provincial government to engage in this process and commit to supporting this national pharmacare plan.
As Dr. Hoskins, the chair of the Advisory Council indicated, this is our generations national project. Let’s complete the unfinished business of Medicare.
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