Federal Health Committee releases report recommending pharmacare now – NUPGE calls on federal government to heed and take action | National Union of Public and General Employees

Federal Health Committee releases report recommending pharmacare now – NUPGE calls on federal government to heed and take action

“Pharmacare will save lives, reduce suffering and lower costs by billions of dollars each year. Canada is the only country with universal health care that does not have pharmacare. Canadians deserve better and must demand better.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (19 April 2018) — The Federal Standing Committee on Health’s report, Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for all Canadians, was released on April 18, 2018 and the recommendations contained in that report clearly call for implementation of universal pharmacare in Canada.

This is a program that the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and its Components have long been demanding. With close to one million Canadians not being able to afford their prescribed medication, the cost of not having universal pharmacare is severely impacting patients and needlessly adding billions of dollars to the cost of health care in Canada.

The evidence is in – time for action!

This federal report heard from almost 100 expert witnesses and took over a year to reach its conclusion. The committee weighed the evidence and reached the same conclusion as every credible past report and expert on the issues: Canada needs to implement a national prescription drug program. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Canada could save $4.2 billion every year if we had pharmacare and we would also better meet the needs of Canadians. The PBO’s estimate is on the very low end of the reports that estimate the billions saved. And because it has the most cautious assumptions, a thoughtful implementation could well save more than this low estimate.

Unfortunately, the committee’s recommendation for universal pharmacare is not new. For the past 5 decades, since the beginning of our current universal health care system, there has been a consistent call by experts and advocates for national pharmacare. NUPGE has been at the forefront of these demands and is again calling on the federal government, and the newly struck Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, to take heed of this report and provide Canadians with a path to pharmacare now!

Expand the Canada Health Act to include pharmacare

The 18 recommendations of the committee clearly demand that phamacare come under the aegis of the Canada Health Act and as such, rejected the use of co-payments to finance the new program. Clearly, federal and provincial governments must work together to fund this program that will reduce health care spending by billions through lower costs and more appropriate use of prescription drugs. Most importantly, implementing pharmacare will guarantee all Canadians access to medically-necessary medications that too many are currently denied.

Now is the time for pharmacare!


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


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