World AIDS Day - NUPGE joins the call for Pharmacare

This ongoing pandemic is exposing some fundamental gaps in our health care system. This World AIDS Day, NUPGE is calling on federal and provincial governments to finally take action on universal Pharmacare, so that all Canadians can access the medicines they need. ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (01 Dec. 2020) ― In recognition of World AIDS Day, which takes place every December 1st, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is renewing its call for action on universal Pharmacare.

Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility

The theme of 2020’s World AIDS Day is Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility. This theme is highly appropriate, both for tackling the long-standing HIV/AIDS pandemic and today’s COVID-19 pandemic. Public health care is based on solidarity and shared responsibility and it is during a public health care crisis that we truly understand the importance of these concepts.

Acting on universal Pharmacare will ensure that all patients will have access to the medication they require. HIV/AIDS activists have long been at the forefront in the fight for access to essential medicines, it is a recognition of this long struggle that compels NUPGE to once again speak out on this issue. NUPGE represents thousands of frontline health care workers and everyday our members see the negative effects from patients who do not have access to the medications they have been prescribed. Many of these patients are forced to choose between their medication and other necessities, putting their health at risk.

NUPGE stands in solidarity with Canada’s unions calling for implementation of universal Pharmacare

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has put out a call on behalf of Canada’s unions highlighting the need for universal Pharmacare. The CLC notes that:

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of new HIV infections in Canada rose by 25.5%.

Globally, in the last year, 38 million people were living with HIV and 25.4 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV and 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

These numbers are stark, and the need for access to medications will rise as the HIV/AIDS pandemic is compounded by COVID-19. Canada should be a g;pbal advocate for greater access to essential medicines, but until we implement universal Pharmacare  at home, we have no authority to call on the global community to take action on this critical issue. 

The CLC also provides a link to write your MP.  NUPGE is encouraging all Canadians to have your voice heard on this important topic by joining this campaign.

To write to your MP on this issue, click here.

Access to Medicines – A Human Right

"HIV/AIDS patients has dramatically highlighted the terrible consequences of a global pandemic compounded by a lack of access to essential medicines. This is a human rights issue, we must heed the lessons of HIV/AIDS and our governments must act to implement Pharmacare now!" said Larry Brown, NUPGE President.

As we watch the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and the development of vaccines, we are debating who should get the vaccines first. As the vaccines become more accessible, there is an implicit understanding that as many people as possible must be vaccinated. NUPGE agrees with this and believes access to medicines is a human right and that all essential medicines, not only the COVID-19 vaccine, should be available to everyone based on need.

Equity and access are foundational components of our public health care system. The 5 principles of the Canada Health Act state that health care should be – Universal, Public, Accessible, Portable and Comprehensive. NUPGE believes these same principles should extend to a future pharmacare system.


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