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A prescription for national universal pharmacare in Canada

Doctors join diverse coalition in establishing a prescription for national universal pharmacare in Canada

TORONTO – September 24, 2018 – Canadian Doctors for Medicare joins with 71 other national, provincial and territorial organizations today in releasing a set of consensus principles on pharmacare. The coalition seeks to establish a clear definition of what National Pharmacare would look like for Canada.

“We are at a turning point for Canadian health care. We may finally see one of the most significant expansion of Medicare since its establishment, and we need to make sure we get it right,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and a family physician in Toronto.

The consensus principles include: universality; public, single-payer administration; accessibility; comprehensiveness; and portable coverage. They are rooted in the strengths of our existing public health care system, and supported by the best available evidence to make universal pharmacare work in the Canadian context.

“A fully universal, single-payer public pharmacare system will ensure that every person in Canada can access the medications they need. No one in this country should have to choose between filling a prescription or heating their home,” said Dr. Raza. “What’s more, a universal, single-payer system will cost less than what the current patchwork of public, private and out-of-pocket spending on drugs is costing Canadians.”

Last fall, the Parliamentary Budget Office estimated that under a universal pharmacare plan Canada could save $4.2 billion in annual prescription costs. In April, the Federal Standing Committee on Health released their report Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medication Coverage for all Canadians, concluding that “the best way to move forward in establishing a universal single player public prescription drug coverage program … by expanding the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of hospitals.”[1]

The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, chaired by Dr. Eric Hoskins, is currently holding consultations across the country. They are expected to present their report to the House of Commons in the spring of 2019.

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Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) 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.

For more information please contact Katie Arnup, Communications and Outreach Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 647-289-5205.


[1] Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Standing Committee on Health. (2018, April). Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medication Coverage for all Canadians. 14th report, 42nd Parliament, 1st session. Available:

Will include link to document on our website.