A prescription for recovery: Canadian doctors urge Trudeau government to introduce universal public drug coverage

Toronto (September 21, 2020) - In anticipation of this Wednesday’s Throne Speech, Canadian doctors are again calling on the government to take immediate action to implement universal, public pharmacare.

“We are the only high income country in the world with a universal health care system that does not include a universal drug plan. COVID-19 has only heightened the need to close that gap,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and family physician in downtown Toronto. “Canada also has the third highest per capita drug spending in the world. It is clear that the status quo is not sustainable.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial fallout, one in three Canadians said they had a friend or family member who struggled to pay for their prescriptions. More than one-in-five said that they or someone in their household had taken approaches such as skipping doses, splitting pills, or simply not filling their prescriptions to save money on prescriptions.

Now, 1.8 million people in Canada have suffered job loss or reduced work hours as a result of the pandemic. This means that many will lose their job-linked extended benefits and face even more challenges covering the cost of their prescriptions.

“The need for immediate action on pharmacare has never been more acute,” said Dr. Raza. “I see patients every day who are struggling to cover the costs of the medication they need. While I am grateful that ability to pay is not a barrier to them seeing me, thanks to our universal public system for doctors, that universal access ends as soon as I write a prescription.”

The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, created by the Trudeau government in 2018, endorsed a universal public model in its final report in June of 2019. During last year’s federal election campaign, the Liberals pledged that they would be guided by the Council’s recommendations yet in the first year of their mandate they have taken no action towards implementing this much-needed program.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. CDM advocates for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.

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For media inquiries please contact Katie Arnup, Executive Director at 647-289-5205 or [email protected]


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