Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 13, 2019
Advisory council calls for $15B universal, single-payer pharmacare plan
An advisory council appointed by the Liberal government is recommending the establishment of a universal, single-payer public pharmacare system.
The council’s 171-page report, released Wednesday, calls for the creation of a new drug agency that would draft a national list of prescription medicines that would be covered by the taxpayer, beginning with an initial list of common and essential drugs, by Jan. 1, 2022.
The council recommends that initial list be expanded to a comprehensive plan by Jan. 2, 2027. When fully implemented, the total cost would be $15 billion a year.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, a former Ontario health minister and chair of the advisory council, acknowledged there are “significant incremental costs” to building pharmacare, but he noted that those costs are already being picked up by Canadians.
“We are confident that the implementation plan that we have put forward is one that meets the objectives and requirements that were handed to the council, of creating a program and implementation plan that is fair and sustainable and accessible to Canadians,” he said.
The council proposes a $2 co-payment for common drugs and $5 for less common ones. The fee would be waived for Canadians on social assistance or with low incomes.
The council spent the last year studying various pharmacare models and hearing from more than 32,000 Canadians and organizations sharing their views online and through letters, written submissions and meetings across the country.
Hoskins said it’s time to show “courage and boldness” and to do “some nation building” on a project that would benefit Canadians in “unimaginable ways.” (CBC)