"Implementing National Pharmacare is a must, the Trudeau government's own advisory panel says so in its interim report. Politics must not get in the way of doing the right thing for the country the government must commit to act." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (06 March 2019) — Dr. Hoskins, Chair of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare has delivered an interim report to the government.
"This report clearly states the urgent need for national phamacare. It provides some steps that can be accomplished immediately and it outlines core principles of National Pharmacare." said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "As a strong first step, this is something we can support. But more is needed, in terms of action, timelines and resources to make this happen."
The Interim Report clearly outlines 3 major challenges:
1. Too many Canadians cannot afford the prescription drugs they need.
2. Access to prescription drug coverage is inconsistent across jurisdictions and populations.
3. Canada's spending on prescription drugs is unsustainable.
It is very important to note that Canada remains the only country with universal health care that does not cover prescription medication for patients. The report states that our spending on prescription drugs is unsustainable. National pharmacare would lower costs through more effective negotiation of prices and a focus on value, safety and effectiveness that is currently missing. This would lower the amount we spend on prescription drugs, with estimates ranging from between $4 and $11 billion saved each year. Implementing national pharmacare is the most effective way to address the issues raised by the advisory council.
Foundational elements and core principles
While the report does outline some foundational elements that could be implemented right away, it also has very solid core principles that must be protected.
There is nothing stopping the government from acting on this interim report, especially from creating the foundational elements that are termed "essential building blocks" for any national pharmacare program.
National Pharmacare must follow the Canada Health Act principles
The National Union would have liked to see a recommendation that national pharmacare be governed by the principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA), and would urge this to be one of the recommendations in the final report, which is due in the spring. There are many still unanswered questions but including national pharmacare withing the CHA woudl mean the 5 core principles of the CHA would apply to national pharmacare as well.
The National Union will be monitoring this file and urging federal, provincial and territorial leaders to work together to ensure Canadians finally get the long-awaited and often-recommended National Pharmacare.
"Now is the time to act to ensure all Canadians, current and future, have access to the medications they need. We can do this and also save Canadians billions of dollars annually. Let's make this a reality," said Brown.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE