Pharmacare now: Completing medicare’s vision for the benefit of all Canadians
By Roy J. RomanowContributors and Greg Marchildon
In 2005, we wrote in this newspaper that momentum was building for national and universal Pharmacare, a policy change that was long overdue, having been recommended by previous Royal Commissions such as the Hall (1964) and Romanow (2002) commissions. We were perhaps premature in our diagnosis of the political moment, but our conclusions regarding the need for this program remains more relevant than ever.
Employment-based private coverage does not include those who have minimum wage, temporary or seasonal jobs. In fact, it is estimated that one third of Canadian workers do not get coverage from their employer. The gig economy almost guarantees that this percentage will only grow.
Canadians without private coverage fall into two groups — those without any coverage and those who quality for provincial government drug plans, safety nets that vary considerably in breadth and depth of coverage across the country.
Our disorganized system also means we are paying the pharmaceutical companies and retail drug stores far too much for drugs. As a consequence, we have among the highest drug prices in the world, something that we will never be able to fix without an effective public drug coverage system.
Now, here we are in 2020, after two major recent reports, one from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and the second from the federal government’s Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. Both recommend that we establish universal, single-payer Pharmacare.
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