Canada needs na­tional pharmacare

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - Ed­ward Saw­don Mount Pearl

I fully sup­port Has­san Yus­suff and the Cana­dian Labour Congress’ call for a na­tional, uni­ver­sal pharmacare pro­gram.

Rather than have 14 fed­eral, pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial gov­ern­ment drug plans and var­i­ous pri­vate drug in­sur­ance plans, I be­lieve it is eco­nom­i­cally wise to have one na­tional pharmacare pro­gram. Un­for­tu­nately, though, Canada is the only na­tion that has a na­tional uni­ver­sal medi­care pro­gram that with the ex­cep­tion of in­pa­tient hos­pi­tal care, has no uni­ver­sal drug cov­er­age.

I find it shock­ing that one in 10 Cana­di­ans have no pri­vate nor pub­lic drug cov­er­age what­so­ever. Said Yus­suff in a re­cent opin­ion piece: “They are among the mil­lions of peo­ple in Canada fall­ing through the cracks of the cur­rent patch­work sys­tem of pri­vate pre­scrip­tion cov­er­age with only lim­ited pub­lic sup­port.”

And, for those who ei­ther have par­tial or full pub­lic drug cov­er­age, it is largely based on age, dis­abil­ity, in­come, and cer­tain seg­ments of

“In my opin­ion, a na­tional pharmacare plan should be sim­i­lar to our Cana­dian medi­care pro­gram in that all Cana­di­ans should have cov­er­age no mat­ter where you live or work or travel in Canada.”

so­ci­ety (ie. in­dige­nous peo­ples, vet­er­ans, RCMP, Cana­dian mil­i­tary per­son­nel and oth­ers). As for pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor work­ers, em­ploy­ers, unions and staff are faced with the ever-in­creas­ing pri­vate in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums while other work­ers lack drug ben­e­fits. And, for those Cana­di­ans and New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans who have the good for­tune of hav­ing pub­lic or pri­vate drug cov­er­age, one is faced with co-pays (read the New­found­land and Labrador Pre­scrip­tion Drug Plan’s ac­cess plan) or de­ductibles or in the case of our prov­ince’s se­niors 65-and-over drug plan, dis­pens­ing fees, and in the case of other prov­inces, like Que­bec and Al­berta, for ex­am­ple, pre­mi­ums.

Un­like MCP, NLPDP in most cases does not pro­vide out-of­province cov­er­age. In my opin­ion, a na­tional pharmacare plan should be sim­i­lar to our Cana­dian medi­care pro­gram in that all Cana­di­ans should have cov­er­age no mat­ter where you live or work or travel in Canada.

All Cana­di­ans and New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans should ask their MPs, MHAs, pre­mier, po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers and our fed­eral and pro­vin­cial min­is­ters of health where they stand? I also en­cour­age all pharmacare ad­vo­cates that who haven’t done so al­ready to make sub­mis­sions to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil on the Im­ple­men­ta­tion of Na­tional Pharmacare and the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s Poverty Re­duc­tion Strat­egy.

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