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February 27, 2018

Important progress on pharmacare cannot be delayed by more studies: CFNU

Federal Budget


Tuesday, February 27, 2018 (OTTAWA) – Canada’s nurses applaud the announcement in today’s federal budget of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, chaired by Dr. Eric Hoskins, with a mandate to work towards the implementation of a national pharmacare plan. For more than 20 years, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) has been calling for universal prescription drug coverage.

“National pharmacare is a common sense and long overdue measure that will be good for patients, good for public health care, and good for taxpayers,” said Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “Canada’s nurses congratulate the Liberal government on taking this important step towards implementing pharmacare.”

According to the 2018 budget, the advisory council will be tasked with beginning a national dialogue on pharmacare, including thorough consultation with stakeholders and research. No timeline is given on when the council is required to report back to the Minister of Health.

“Canada’s nurses want to make sure that this doesn’t turn into yet another long and drawn-out study on an issue that has been studied to death,” said Silas. “Canadians have witnessed decades of research, consultations, Royal Commissions and studies on pharmacare, and we know the verdict: pharmacare is right for Canada. We do not need yet another study.”

Universal pharmacare could generate savings of up to $11.4 billion annually, while increasing access to health care and improving health outcomes. Without pharmacare, Canada has wasted $62 billion health care dollars from 2006 to 2015. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Health is on the verge of releasing a report– after hearing from nearly 100 experts – that is expected to make strong recommendations in favour of pharmacare.

“Canada’s nurses expect the advisory council to come up with an implementation plan for pharmacare before the next federal budget – anything less will be a disappointment.” said Silas. “Given our decades of leadership on pharmacare, we will be asking Dr. Hoskins and the Liberal government to include nurses at the table as we build pharmacare.”

Canada’s nurses are pleased to see investments for dementia in budget 2018, as well as important funding commitments for Indigenous communities – specifically $4.1 billion over five years for infrastructure and social services. The commitment to introduce long-overdue pay equity legislation is also a welcome development and we await a concrete plan of action.

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The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses. The CFNU advocates on key health priorities, such as a national prescription drug plan, a comprehensive approach to long-term and continuing care, greater attention to health human resources, and federal engagement on the future of public health care.

For further information please contact:
Lauren Snowball, CFNU Communications Officer, (613) 868-5702, lsnowball (at)