Canadian Labour Leaders urge Premiers to recommit to establishing a single-payer, universal prescription drug plan in Canada
(EDMONTON) Meeting in Alberta for events concurrent to the Council of the Federation, Labour Leaders from across Canada urge provincial and territorial Premiers to lobby the federal government for a national Pharmacare plan to ensure all Canadians have access to life-saving medications, and to bring down the costs of the current increasingly out-of-control system.
"Canada's multi-payer drug system is expensive, inefficient, and does not ensure that people get the life-saving prescriptions they need," said President of the Ontario Federation of Labour Chris Buckley. "Canadians fund this patchwork system, spending millions of dollars. At the same time, they face some of the highest prices in the world for prescription medications instead of using that money to cover other healthcare needs."
Canada's public per capita prescription drug spending in 2014 was second highest amongst OECD countries, at $772 USD per person, far above the OECD average.
The high costs of the current system are also felt by individuals and families. Evidence shows Canadians who rely on prescription drugs simply don't have the money to cover costs, and instead are splitting pills, skipping dosages to stretch prescriptions, sharing medicines, or going deep into debt to make ends meet. Even more concerning, almost one in ten Canadians are going without life-saving prescribed medicines because they can't afford them, which can cause serious health complications.
"No one should need to skip their medications or otherwise ignore doctor's orders because of costs. This only leads to additional pressure on the healthcare system that will actually cost everyone more in the long run," said Buckley.
By adopting a single-payer program, Canadians would benefit from bulk purchasing power, giving them the power to obtain competitively priced prescription drugs. Through aggressive pharmaceutical company competition for Canadian business, a single-payer universal prescription drug program could save Canadians approximately $7.3 billion a year based on an additional $1 billion in public sector spending.
"In public opinion surveys, over 90% of both citizens and employers believe a Universal Prescription Drug Plan is important to Canadian healthcare coverage. Pharmacare is the type of smart policy Canadians are looking for from our political leaders," said Buckley. "Canadians know bulk buying is the smarter option."
Canada is the only country with universal health care that does not have a universal program for prescription coverage, despite the stated goal of universal coverage in the 2004-2014 Health Accord.
During events concurrent to the Council of the Federation, Presidents of provincial and territorial labour federations will urge premiers from provinces and territories across Canada to re-commit to a single-payer, universal prescription drug plan to save lives while saving Canadians money.
Together, Canada's provincial and territorial labour federations give voice to over three million workers, represented by the Alberta Federation of Labour, British Columbia Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress, Manitoba Federation of Labour, New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Northern Territories Federation of Labour, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Ontario Federation of Labour, Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleises du Québec, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Yukon Federation of Labour.