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Canada one step closer to a National Pharmacare Program; time for federal government to act

For immediate release
April 19, 2018

Canada’s Community Health Centres applaud the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health’s formal recommendation for the federal government to implement a single-payer, universal prescription drug plan for Canadians. The recommendation comes in the Committee’s report Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for all Canadians, tabled yesterday in the House of Commons.

Over the span of two years, the Committee heard testimony from nearly 100 expert witnesses, with the majority arguing for a universal, publicly-administered, national prescription drug coverage program.

The Committee’s recommendation to implement a universal, publicly-administered National Pharmacare Program reinforces similar recommendations from numerous previous national reports and commissions on Pharmacare. 

“The research is clear that National Pharmacare will save Canada at least $4 billion per year and will improve access to prescription medications,” said Irene Clarence, Co-Chair of the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres. “Just as important, 91% of Canadians support a National Pharmacare Program. Like the House of Commons Committee’s report says, the time for National Pharmacare is now.”

In late February, the federal government took an important step forward on National Pharmacare, committing to establish an Advisory Council on Implementation of National Pharmacare, chaired by former Ontario Minister of Health, Dr. Eric Hoskins. Since then, Canadians have been anxiously waiting for the Council to begin its work.

“Yesterday’s report underscores the urgency of moving to action. We are re-iterating our call for the Advisory Council to get down to work on the mechanics of how Canada’s universal, publicly-administered National Pharmacare will be implemented,“ said Clarence. 

Canada’s current patchwork of prescription drug plans doesn’t work. According to comprehensive national research, nearly 1 out of every 4 Canadians says they or someone in their household can't afford their prescription drugs. Many are splitting pills and skipping doses to make the medicine go further. Many others are not renewing or even filling prescriptions to begin with due to the high costs of medications. Canadians also pay dramatically more for prescription medications than most other industrialized countries and Canada is the only country with a universal healthcare system which does not also include universal access to prescription drugs.


Media and other requests:
Scott Wolfe, CACHC Executive Director 


The Canadian Association of Community Health Centres (CACHC) is the federal voice for Community Health Centres (CHCs) and community-oriented, people-centred primary health care across Canada. CHCs are multi-sector healthcare and social services organizations. They deliver integrated, people-centred services and programs that reflect the needs and priorities of the diverse communities they serve. 

Copyright © 2018 Canadian Association of Community Health Centres, All rights reserved.

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