Canada’s nurses are urging all Members of Parliament support the NDP’s Bill C-213 to create a Canada Pharmacare Act and implement a national prescription drug program for everyone in the country. The bill was introduced in February and will be debated today by parliamentarians.
The NDP’s bill is based on the recommendations of the landmark Hoskins Report and modelled on the Canada Health Act. It would legally enshrine the core principles of Canada’s medicare for a national prescription drug program.
“Millions of Canadians have lost their jobs and drug coverage during the Covid-19 pandemic, at the time when our health system is straining to meet overwhelming demand,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. “There has never been a more urgent moment to guarantee universal access to prescription medications and ensure everyone in Canada stays healthy.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five Canadians had either no drug coverage at all or had inadequate coverage. That number has increased significantly during the pandemic, with millions of people losing their jobs and their employer-sponsored drug plans.
The Hoskins Report recommended that the federal government enshrine the principles and national standards of pharmacare in federal legislation, separate and distinct from the Canada Health Act. The Canada Pharmacare Act specifies conditions that provincial and territorial prescription drug insurance programs must meet to receive federal funding. This includes tying federal funding to the core principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility.
The CFNU – Canada’s largest nurses’ organization – urges Prime Minister Trudeau and all parliamentarians to support the NDP’s Canada Pharmacare Act and rapidly implement a national prescription drug program for all.