Government of Canada launches Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
By Health Canada
OTTAWA—Canadians are proud of our publicly funded health care system, which is based on need and not on ability to pay. However, prescription drugs are not covered in a consistent way across the country, and too many Canadians cannot afford the medicines they need. A recent study found that almost one million Canadians reduced spending on food and heat in order to afford their medication.
By Health Canada
In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced the creation of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, and appointed Dr. Eric Hoskins as the Chair of the Council.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, have announced that the Government has appointed six accomplished Canadians as members of the Council. Chaired by Dr. Hoskins, the Council will include:
- Ms. Mia Homsy, Council Vice Chair, and Director General of the Institut du Québec;
- Dr. Nadine Caron, Canada’s first female Indigenous surgeon from the University of British Columbia;
- Mr. Vincent Dumez, Co-director of the Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP) at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal, and a patient with significant lived experience;
- Ms. Camille Orridge, Senior Fellow at the Wellesley Institute focussed on health equity, and former CEO of the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network;
- Ms. Diana Whalen, former Deputy Premier and Finance Minister of Nova Scotia, and laureate of Women of Distinction Award by the Cornwallis Progress Club for her work in the community;
- Mr. John Wright, former Deputy Minister of Health and Deputy Minister of Finance for the Government of Saskatchewan, and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
As part of its work, the Council will conduct a fiscal, economic and social assessment of domestic and international pharmacare models. It will also consult extensively with Canadians to hear and better understand their views on pharmacare.
To that end, over the next few months, the Council will travel across the country to meet with Canadians, health care experts, patients, interested stakeholders, and provincial, territorial, and Indigenous leaders.
In the next few weeks, Canadians will be invited to engage the Council by sharing their views through an online questionnaire and through written submissions. In the meantime, Canadians can read the discussion paper, which provides an overview of Canada’s current system of prescription drug coverage and its challenges.
The input received will help shape the Council’s independent interim report, which will be delivered to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance later this year, followed by its final report in spring 2019. The report will provide the Government with recommendations on how to best move forward on implementing a national pharmacare program that meets the needs of, and is affordable for, Canadians, employers and governments.
- Canadians pay among the highest prices for and spend more on prescription drugs than citizens of almost every other country in the world.
- On average, Canadians spend $926 per person on prescriptions per year, through a combination of public, private and out-of-pocket expenditures.
- A 2015 Angus Reid Survey found that 23% of Canadians reported that they or someone else in their household did not take their prescription medications as prescribed in the previous 12 months, if at all, because of cost. An estimated one million Canadians are forced to cut back on food or heating in order to afford prescription medications.
- A recent report estimates that hundreds of premature deaths occur each year among working-age Canadians unable to afford their prescription medicines (Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, 2018).