NDP pledges to implement single payer pharmacare

April 1, 2019

Canadian Doctors for Medicare supports the principles embraced in the New Democratic Party’s plan for the implementation of national pharmacare, including the party’s pledge to adopt a single payer system of universal drug coverage instead of a “fill the gaps” approach to the existing system.

The New Democratic Party announced its plan for pharmacare at a media event in British Columbia on Monday, 1 April 2019. The plan includes a commitment of $10 billion in federal funding to be pooled with the current $13.7 billion in provincial spending. Citing figures from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the NDP projects a savings of $4.2 billion per year over current drug spending in Canada.

“The NDP Plan for Pharmacare follows the same principles and priorities that we have consistently emphasized,” said CDM Chair Dr. Danyaal Raza. “The Government of Canada’s public consultations have made it clear that Canadians don’t want a patchwork approach to fixing an inefficient system that leaves too many people in Canada behind. Study after study has shown that the single payer model is the most equitable and affordable option for national pharmacare.”

As part of its 2019 federal budget, the Government of Canada pledged $35 million over four years for the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency, which would support the development of an evidence-based national formulary. The budget also proposes up to $1 billion over two years, beginning in 2022-23, to help Canadians with rare diseases access the drugs they need.

While regarded by CDM as a promising first step towards the implementation of national pharmacare, the 2019 budget provides little detail regarding what a Liberal pharmacare program would look like, or when it would take effect. The NDP claims that the Liberal Party plans to maintain the current system, and states that this decision would provide large pharmaceutical companies with a major role in shaping the implementation of national pharmacare at the expense of families and employers.

The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, which was announced as part of the Government of Canada’s 2018 budget, is expected to deliver clear recommendations for implementation in its final report to the Ministers of Health and Finance in June of 2019.

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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For more information or to book an interview:

Matt Blair
Communications and Outreach Officer
Canadian Doctors for Medicare
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