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September 24, 2018

Consensus grows on the best model for national pharmacare

Media Release


Consensus on the Best Model for National Pharmacare Announced by 70 Groups

Monday September 24, 2018 (OTTAWA, ON) – Canada’s nurses join more than 70 national, provincial and territorial organizations from coast to coast to coast in announcing their Consensus Principles for National Pharmacare. For a program of national prescription drug coverage to be successful and effective, it must be a single-payer system that is universal, public, accessible, comprehensive in coverage and portable, according to the Consensus. The number of signatories to the Consensus Principles continues to grow by the day.

“When it comes to national pharmacare, the question is no longer if, but how the system will be built,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “Today there is consensus among pharmacare advocates that our patchwork system does not need any more patches. Canada needs a single blanket of drug coverage for the whole country.”

The health-related consequences of Canada’s current fragmented system of drug coverage are grave. A 2018 expert report, commissioned by Canada’s nurses, found that up to 640 Canadians die prematurely every year from one disease alone because of unaffordable medications. Meanwhile, up to 70,000 older Canadians suffer avoidable health deterioration every year because of financial barriers to medications.

Canadians know that prescription medicines are a key part of a complete system of Medicare – it never made sense to treat them separately, and it is time to fix it.

“Our message to the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare and the Trudeau government is clear: a watered-down, fill-in-the-gaps drug coverage scheme will fail,” said Silas. “We all know, it will cost more, preserve massive existing administrative inefficiencies and fail to cover everyone. These Consensus Principles must be the foundation upon which we build a national pharmacare program.”

Multiple studies prove that only by building a universal, single-payer and public pharmacare program will Canada be able to achieve billions ($4 to $11, depending on the system design) of dollars in health care savings per year. These massive savings would be achieved by engaging the purchasing power of the entire country and by drastically reducing the inefficient and duplicative administration costs across the country’s nearly 100,000 private health plans. Significant savings would also be achieved from a reduction in unnecessary medical complications and hospitalizations that arise due to unaffordable medications.

Since June, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, chaired by Dr. Eric Hoskins, has been gathering information through public town halls, stakeholder consultations and a short online questionnaire available to everyone in Canada.

“With five days left before the September 28 deadline, we are encouraging everyone in Canada to take 15 minutes to fill out the online questionnaire available on the Advisory Council website,” said Silas. “This is your opportunity to communicate directly with decision-makers, and tell them why Canada needs a pharmacare system that works.”


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

For more information, please contact:
Lauren Snowball, CFNU, 613-868-5702, media(at)
Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan, CFNU, 613-513-7754, sebastian(at)

View the Consensus Principles