Pharmacare plan a hot topic of discussion at Liberal convention
News of a proposed national pharmacare plan is garnering plenty of reaction this week, after a House of Commons committee on health released a long-awaited report about a universal program that promises to provide Canadians with better health care at a lower cost.
As the Liberal government gathers in Halifax for their annual national party convention, the pitch became a hot topic of discussion.
According to an Angus Reid Institute Poll from 2015, one-in-five Canadians said they did not take their medicines as prescribed, if it at all, because of cost.
That doesn't come as a surprise to seniors advocate Bill Van Gorder.
"We're creating a health problem" says Van Gorder, chair of CARP, Canada's largest advocacy association for older Canadians.
Van Gorder is encouraged to hear the federal government is considering a national pharmacare program, but he's seen the idea stumble before over provincial jurisdictions.
"We've got to get the federal government to push the provincial governments to get together and finally do something about a problem that's actually killing Canadians," says Van Gorder.
The president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions says Canada’s lack of a pharmacare program comes at a great cost to patients and the healthcare system.
"They're going home to no care, no medication, so they're only coming back in worse condition," says Linda Silas, president of the CFNU.
Canadians currently pay some of the highest prices for pharmaceutical drugs in the world. This proposed plan would see a single buyer negotiate the best price.
"We've identified for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that Canadians will have better healthcare, lower cost with a single pay system. It's absolutely the case," says Liberal MP and committee chair Bill Casey.
At a cost of $19-billion, Casey says funding will be reallocated and actually save money.
But Canadian taxpayers don't quite agree.
The Angus Reid poll found Canadians may support the idea, but not if it means a tax hike, with 63% responding, 'No matter what the research, a national pharmacare plan will end up costing taxpayers lots of money."
With files from CTV Atlantic's Marie Adsett.