Canadians spent $34 billion on prescription medicines in 2018. Drugs are the second biggest expenditure in health care, after hospitals. Yet, for all this spending, there are huge gaps in coverage. One million Canadians cut spending on food and heat to afford their prescription medicines last year. Surveys suggest that up to 20% of Canadians have inadequate coverage or no coverage at all.
Furthermore, we are the only country in the world with universal health care that does not provide universal coverage for prescription drugs. Instead, we rely on a confusing patchwork of more than 100 government-run drug insurance programs and more than 100,000 private drug insurance plans. The system is uneven and unfair.
This is unacceptable.
With Budget 2019, our government is taking the next steps towards the implementation of a national pharmacare program by:
This is smart and sensible public policy. Meanwhile, the federal Conservatives have no plan to make prescription drugs more affordable.
Alberta medical students Tara and Kendra came to speak with me about the importance of seniors’ health and equitable access to pharmaceutical products.
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