Liberal Party platform leaves the pharmacare question open

September 23, 2019

Canadian Doctors for Medicare calls on the Liberal Party of Canada to clarify its position on universal drug coverage by providing detail on how it will move beyond the initial commitments included in the 2019 federal budget and implement the universal single payer model endorsed in the final report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

The health care pledge issued today by the Liberal Party asserts that its platform on national pharmacare is “guided” by the Advisory Council’s recommendations. However, the pledge contains no commitment to a specific pharmacare model, and no acknowledgment that the Advisory Council has explicitly endorsed a universal single payer system.

“The previous Liberal government opened the door to national pharmacare by creating the Advisory Council in 2018,” said CDM Chair Dr. Danyaal Raza. “The commitments they made as part of today’s announcement are the same commitments they announced in April, when they tabled the 2019 federal budget. The Liberals have an opportunity to make the Advisory Council’s recommendations a reality, and Canadians deserve to know more about how they plan to do so.”

The Liberal Party’s announcement includes a three-point commitment to establish the Canada Drug Agency, to implement a national formulary to further lower drug prices, and to implement a rare disease drug strategy. All three of these commitments were included in the 2019 federal budget. Today’s announcement contains no additional commitments or implementation details.

The New Democratic Party committed to the implementation of universal single payer pharmacare in April, prior to both the 2019 federal budget and the Advisory Council’s final report. The Green Party pledged a similar commitment to universal drug coverage earlier this month. During the first leaders debate of the campaign, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer called for a “fill the gaps” alternative to national pharmacare, a position that the Advisory Council’s report states would do little to lower drug prices or create more equitable access to prescription medications.

“The Liberal Party’s statement acknowledges the work of the Advisory Council on this vital issue, but it fails to acknowledge the results of that work,” says Dr. Raza. “Canadians have made it clear that health care will be a top priority during this election, and both the Advisory Council’s final report and the polls have made it clear that most Canadians believe the time has come for universal public drug coverage. They deserve to know how the party that set the process in motion plans to deliver on its promise.”

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.


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