As Parliament Returns, Trudeau Government Must Finally Fulfill Promise on Universal Pharmacare

As Parliament Returns, Trudeau Government Must Finally Fulfill Promise on Universal Pharmacare

The Confidence and Supply Agreement signed between the federal Liberal and New Democratic Parties puts universal, single-payer, public Pharmacare on the House of Commons agenda this fall, with a promise to table and pass a national act before the end of 2023. A private members bill, tabled by the NDP earlier this year, lays out what they believe a national act should look like. With Parliament reconvening today, Friends of Medicare is renewing our call for the federal government to act to urgently implement Pharmacare.

“The Trudeau government has been promising universal, single-payer public Pharmacare for eight years. Canadians can’t wait any longer, we need action now,” said Chris Gallaway executive director of Friends of Medicare “This means moving quickly to table and pass a National Pharmacare Act, followed by tangible steps forward and funding for the implementation of universal drug coverage for all.”

Earlier this month, Friends of Medicare hosted a public town hall on Pharmacare, and went door-to-door to speak directly with Albertans about this important program. Support was widespread, and the need urgent.

“We are closer than ever to finally achieving Pharmacare. The government has promised it, and the vast majority of Albertans support a universal, single-payer Pharmacare system because they know that it is the correct move. Opinion polling has shown this over and over again.” said Gallaway. “But as the cost of living continues to put increased strain on Canadian households, the need for action on drug costs has never been more urgent.”

We already have a roadmap to get there: in 2019, the final report from the Advisory Committee on Implementing National Pharmacare recommended a public, single-payer Pharmacare plan that offers comprehensive drug coverage to all Canadians to save money, make life more affordable, and improve health care for Canadians. They explicitly recommended against a fill-in-the-gaps approach, stating “it would do little to lower drug prices or create fairness or uniformity in access across the country.” 

In spite of all this, big pharmaceutical companies have ramped up their lobbying efforts this year to try to influence the federal government to pursue this piecemeal model, in their favour.

“The government needs to listen to what’s best for Canadians, not cave to the interests of big pharmaceutical and insurance companies,” said Gallaway. “The pace the government was able to move forward on a children’s dental care program showed us that they can move quickly to support Canadians’ health, when the political will is there. No more excuses, no more stalling. It’s time to get Pharmacare done.”

Friends of Medicare continues to encourage everyone to take action by sending a message to their MP in support of universal, public Pharmacare. This crucial political moment is our opportunity to make sure that our government and local representatives hear us loud and clear.


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