A consensus is developing that the new Liberal minority government needs to put the implementation of a national pharmacare program at the top of its to-do list.
“We need to stop studying this issue,” says Carleton University political economist Marc-Andre Gagnon. “This issue has been studied way more than it should have been. And it is very clear in terms of which model is the most efficient and this is universal pharmacare.
The NDP and Green Party included universal pharmacare in their platforms, with the Liberals committed to some sort of pharmacare but not neccessarily a universal, publicly funded program. The Conservatives said they would increase health spending but not implement a pharmacare program.
A recent report from the parliamentary budget officer said a universal program for prescription medications would save $4.2 billion from the estimated $28.5 billion spent annually on prescription drugs.
Another report from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released in June mapped out a national program that would cost taxpayers an estimated $15.3 billion in 2027.
Canada is the only industrialized country with universal medicare that does not provide coverage for medications, but those same medications are among the highest priced per capita in the world.
As a result, nearly 10 per cent of Canadians who don’t have private health coverage can’t afford the drugs prescribed to them and are having to choose between food and medication.