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June 12, 2019

Advisory Council on Pharmacare issues definitive verdict: Public universal pharmacare is the only option for Canada

OTTAWA, ON – Canada’s nurses applaud the findings of the final report by the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. The report recommends an end to the current costly and dysfunctional patchwork system of coverage in favour of a single pharmacare system that covers all Canadians.

“Today’s report is a victory for Canadians!” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. “The ball is now in the Trudeau government’s court to make this a federal election priority and to move as fast as possible towards full implementation.”

Public support for pharmacare is very high among Canadians, with recent Environics public opinion polling showing support for public coverage of prescriptions, “the same way that doctors and hospitals are covered,” at 84% across Canada.

“Once and for all, this report closes the debate about the best model of pharmacare for Canada,” said Silas. “The answer is definitive: Canada needs a public universal pharmacare plan with a comprehensive formulary, and nothing less.”

The grave consequences of Canada’s current fragmented system of drug coverage are well understood, Silas noted. A 2018 report commissioned by the CFNU last year found that thousands of Canadians die prematurely and up to 70,000 older Canadians suffer avoidable health deterioration every year because they can’t afford the high cost of prescription medication. In addition, the Parliamentary Budget Officer conservatively estimated that this model would save Canadians a minimum of $4.2 billion annually.

“It is our hope that the Trudeau government will commit to an implementation timeline that is more ambitious than the one provided in this report,” said Silas. “Eight years is a long time in the world of politics, and Canada’s nurses commit to working with government to help realize pharmacare for Canada as soon as is reasonably possible.”

Although over an 8 year timeline, the Advisory Council’s final report has called for the implementation of a pharmacare program similar to that of the Consensus Principles endorsed by a national coalition of more than 80 organizations from every region of Canada.

“We can no longer afford the status quo,” said Silas. “The patchwork and flimsy system we have now costs thousands of lives and wastes billions of dollars every year. Canada deserves something better.”

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The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses, and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.

For more information, please contact: Ben René, CFNU Communications Officer, 613-406-5962, brene@nursesunions.ca