"This pandemic has shown very clearly where we need to improve our health care system. Implementing pharmacare would help millions of Canadians and lower costs dramatically. Losing your job due to COVID, or for any reason, should not leave you without access to medication." — Larry Brown, President
Ottawa (27 May 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has joined over 190 national and provincial organizations in calling for urgent implementation of universal, public pharmacare. This statement highlights the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the ability of Canadians to access medications.
COVID-19 unemployment harms access to medication
Many Canadians rely on workplace health insurance to cover the costs of their medication, so this spike in unemployment means a spike in the numbers of those who need help to access medications. Before the pandemic, 20% of Canadians were struggling to pay for their medication. The pandemic has thrown millions more Canadians into this position as unemployment has skyrocketed. "This pandemic has shown very clearly where we need to improve our health care system, said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. Implementing pharmacare would help millions of Canadians and lower costs dramatically. Losing your job due to COVID, or for any reason, should not leave you without access to medication. The evidence is clear, and governments need to act."
Speed up implementation of pharmacare
The statement call for the government to speed up implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare . This council was led by Dr. Eric Hoskins and clearly laid out the path for Canada to implement universal pharmacare. Immediately implementing phase 1 of the council's recommendations, followed by implementing phase 2 within the mandate of this government, would allow Canada to no longer be an outlier on pharmacare. Every country with universal health care, has a form of pharmacare, except Canada.
Situation critical, action needed
Government response to COVID-19 has shown that when necessary, swift action can be taken to address a public health crisis. Ongoing lack of access to affordable medication is a crisis that has been lingering for decades. It is costing needless suffering and death while costing us much more money than almost every other country in the world pays. Urgent action is needed because a dire situation has become critical with millions more at risk due to the pandemic.
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