September 30, 2015 | Toronto, ON
Canadian Doctors for Medicare was disappointed to find a clear commitment to pharmacare lacking in the Liberal Party’s health platform announced earlier today. While the platform points generally towards improving access and reducing costs through bulk purchasing, an explicit commitment to a “public” and “universal” form of coverage for all Canadians is currently missing.
“In the current system, 1 in 5 Canadian families are unable to afford their medications,” said Dr. Ryan Meili, Acting Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “While their gesture towards increasing access and lowering costs is welcome, and while their pledge to negotiate a new Health Accord is promising, what Canadians really need is a solid commitment to a single public system that offers universal coverage. Such a pharmacare plan would replace the patchwork of social and employer plans that currently leaves so many Canadians making impossible choices between, for example, healthy food and life-saving drugs. A clear commitment along these lines is nowhere to be found in the Liberal platform announced today.”
In recent months, a groundswell of support for national drug coverage has become apparent. Non-profits, unions, academics, health professionals, and politicians have crossed provincial, territorial, and political divides to insist on the need for a national strategy that provides universal access, increased affordability, and improved safety standards. Most recently, the Green Party and NDP joined the call, offering their own versions of national drug coverage as centerpieces of their health policy platforms. Such support is being echoed by the public as well, and in a recent Angus Reid poll, 91% of Canadians indicated that they want a national drug plan to be part of our public system.
“Canada is the only country with universal health care that doesn’t include public coverage for prescription drugs,” said Meili. “For Canadian health care, this is the elephant in the room, the largest gap in our system, and it affects millions of us every year. Addressing this gap has become a priority for a significant majority of Canadians, and it is discouraging to see the Liberal platform overlook this.”
“Canadian Doctors for Medicare recognizes the progressive aspects of the Liberal platform,” continued Meili, “but at the same time asks that they consider including a strong stance on the necessity for universal coverage for prescription drugs in a future update.”
Dr. Ryan Meili is available for interviews in either English or French