Canada’s unions demand government take concrete steps to implement pharmacare in upcoming fiscal update

December 8, 2021

Bruske: January 1, 2022 was supposed to be a universal pharmacare milestone – instead we are poised to mark another year of missed opportunities

OTTAWA – Canada’s unions, civil society groups, business and academics wrote to the prime minister today urging the government to use the upcoming Economic and Fiscal Update to take the next step forwards on implementing universal public pharmacare.

The letter, from Canadian Labour Congress President Bea Bruske and other concerned groups, outlined how the government is falling behind the recommendations of their own Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

“We should be poised to celebrate the next step towards universal pharmacare, instead we continue to see millions of Canadians unable to afford the medicines they need,” said Bea Bruske. “We have experienced too many missed opportunities and are witnessing too many people being left behind. With family budgets stretched so thin, more and more Canadians are being forced to make impossible choices between buying groceries or paying for their medication.”

Bruske noted that despite the government’s repeated commitment to be guided by the Advisory Council’s recommendations, 2021 is shaping up to be another year where little to no progress has been made towards making medicines accessible to all Canadians.

“Canada is the only country with universal public health care that hasn’t implemented national drug coverage. With bold leadership from the federal government, as we have seen on child care, we can make pharmacare happen in 2022,” concluded Bruske. “The upcoming Economic and Fiscal Update and next spring’s Budget are critical opportunities for the government and Parliament to make concrete progress on implementing universal pharmacare – and finally give all Canadians equal access to the medications they require.”

Bruske added that the Advisory Council had called for the government to invest $3.5 billion for coverage of the most common medicines by January 1, 2022 as the first step in implementing universal public pharmacare. A full universal pharmacare plan would lead to $5 billion a year in savings on prescription drug spending each year.

For a copy of the letter sent to the Prime Minister or to arrange an interview, please contact:
CLC Media Relations

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