WHY PHARMACARE?

Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan. Our patchwork prescription drug system is inefficient and expensive. It has left Canadians with wildly varying prescription drug coverage and access. Many are paying different rates for the same medications.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Regionally, Atlantic Canada has among the lowest rates of access to prescription medications in the country. In Newfoundland, even publically-funded programs require dispensing fees or co-payments, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 26 percent of Atlantic Canadians don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford to.

  • Public spending in Newfoundland and Labrador covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • Of the 236,200 in the province working either full or part-time, an estimated one in three – 78,333 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage.This means that in 2015, about three quarters of Newfoundland and Labrador’s 34,700 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015, there were approximately 22,500 self-employed workers without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • The province’s 65Plus Plan for low-income seniors still charges a $6 dispensing fee on prescriptions.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

  • The Access Plan for low-income residents requires co-payments ranging from 20 to 70 percent of total prescription costs, depending on annual income.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Newfoundlanders without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

Nova Scotia

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Regionally, Atlantic Canada has among the lowest rates of access to prescription medications in the country. In Nova Scotia, even publically-funded programs require co-payments or deductibles, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 26 percent of Atlantic Canadians don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford to.

  • Public spending in Nova Scotia covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • An estimated one in three of the province’s 448,100 workers – 149,366 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three quarters of Nova Scotia’s 79,900 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015, there were 58,600 self-employed workers in Nova Scotia without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • Nova Scotia’s Seniors Pharmacare Program leaves seniors paying a premium based on household income, as well as an annual co-payment.

  • The province’s Family Pharmacare Program, for families without drug coverage and those with unusually high prescription drug costs, leaves recipients having to contribute to the costs of certain prescription drugs. There is also an annual co-payment and deductible, depending on household income.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Nova Scotians without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

Prince Edward Island

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Regionally, Atlantic Canada has among the lowest rates of access to prescription medications in the country. In PEI, even publically-funded programs require dispensing fees or co-payments, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 26 percent of Atlantic Canadians don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford to.

  • Public spending in PEI covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • Of the 73,200 in the province working either full or part-time, an estimated one in three – 24,400 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three quarters of PEI’s 12,400 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015, there were 10,700 self-employed PEI residents without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • PEI’s Seniors Drug Program covers residents over the age of 65; however, there are still two dispensing fees of $8.25 and $7.69 on needed prescriptions. The Generic Drug program is also available to senior residents, but requires out-of-pocket payments up to $19.95.

  • The Family Health Benefit Drug Program, tailored for low-income families, doesn’t cover the cost of dispensing fees.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Islanders without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

New Brunswick

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Regionally, Atlantic Canada has among the lowest rates of access to prescription medications in the country. In New Brunswick, even publically-funded programs require dispensing fees or co-payments, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 26 percent of Atlantic Canadians don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford to.

  • Public spending in New Brunswick covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • An estimated one in three of the province’s 351,800 workers – 117,266 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three quarters of New Brunswick’s 53,900 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015, there were 42,100 self-employed workers in New Brunswick without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • The New Brunswick Prescription Drug Plan (NBPDP) covers seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement, but they have to pay co-payments. The Medavie Blue Cross Seniors’ Health Program also covers seniors, but requires monthly premiums of $115, and co-payments of $15 per prescription.

  • Uninsured residents are covered by the New Brunswick Drug Plan, but they pay a premium and a 30% co-payment based on annual income.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

This patchwork coverage leaves many in New Brunswick without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

Quebec

Canada is the only developed country in the world with universal health care that doesn’t include prescription drugs. Quebec is the only province in Canada with a semi-public drug prescription plan, but that plan needs work.

12 percent of Quebecers say they can’t afford the medication they need. Many are splitting pills, skipping days to stretch their prescriptions, or not filling their prescriptions at all.

Nobody should be forced to choose between paying for groceries and paying for the medication they need. That’s why 91 percent of Quebecers say they support a universal, public prescription drug plan.

  • In Quebec, everyone is covered either by a public or private prescription drug plan. Despite that, households there pay more out of pocket for prescriptions than in any other province.

  • Anyone with access to private prescription drug coverage through work or their family must use that coverage, and cannot access the province’s public prescription drug plan. Those compelled to use private plans face rapidly increasing costs.

  • Those without private insurance are covered by Quebec’s public prescription drug plan. They pay an annual premium based on income of up to $667, a monthly deductible of $19.45 and co-insurance of 34.8% of the cost of each prescription.

A recent agreement between Quebec and pharmaceutical companies on the cost of generic drugs has demonstrated that by combining our purchasing power, we can benefit from the best possible prices. Savings would increase dramatically if Quebec’s prescription drug plan was completely public and universal.

The Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) has long advocated for a universal and public prescription drug plan for Quebec. Now, as Canada’s unions campaign for the same for all Canadians, the FTQ is stepping up its call on the Quebec government to establish a universal and public prescription drug plan for everyone in Quebec as soon as possible.

Ontario

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Ontario’s proposed partial pharmacare program is a step in the right direction, but still leaves many without coverage. Ontario’s current publically-funded programs require deductibles or co-payments, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 24 percent of respondents in Ontario said they or someone else in their household hadn’t taken medication as prescribed because they couldn’t afford to.

  • Today, public spending in Ontario covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • An estimated one in three of the province’s 6,923,200 workers – 2,307,733 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three quarters of Ontario’s 1,305,000 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015, there were 1,088,000 self-employed workers in Ontario without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • Ontario’s Drug Benefit covers seniors, but they still pay an annual deductible of $100, and co-payments of $6.11 on every prescription.

  • The province’s Trillium Drug Program is available for those paying more than three percent of their net household income on prescriptions, but they still pay a deductible, and co-payments of $2 per prescription.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

  • In 2017, the Ontario government announced a partial Pharmacare program that will cover full prescription drug costs for anyone under the age of 25. If approved, the program will start January 1, 2018, and will cover 4,400 drugs for the province’s children and young adults.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Ontarians without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

Manitoba

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. In Manitoba, access to public coverage is based on your family income and requires a deductible, which has proven to reduce access.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Manitobans without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

Saskatchewan

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. In Saskatchewan, even publically-funded programs require co-payments or deductibles, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 20 percent of respondents in Saskatchewan said they or someone else in their household hadn’t taken medication as prescribed because they couldn’t afford to.

  • Public spending in Saskatchewan covers roughly half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • An estimated one in three of the province’s 573,700 workers – 191,233 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three quarters of Saskatchewan’s 100,900 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015 there were 104,500 self-employed workers in Saskatchewan without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • In Saskatchewan, children in low-income families who qualify for Family Health Benefits are covered for prescription drugs, but adults and legal guardians pay $100 semi-annual deductibles and 35 percent co-payments for each prescription.

  • The Children’s Drug Plan covers children 14 and under, and the Seniors’ Drug Plan covers seniors, but beneficiaries are still expected to make co-payments of up to $25 per prescription.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

This patchwork coverage leaves many in Saskatchewan without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

Alberta

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. In Alberta, even publically-funded programs require co-payments or deductibles, which have proven to reduce access.

  • 21 percent of respondents in Alberta said they or someone else in their household hadn’t taken medication as prescribed because they couldn’t afford to.

  • Public spending in Alberta covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

  • An estimated one in three of the province’s 2,301,100 workers – 767,033 – don’t have health benefits.

  • In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three quarters of Alberta’s 390,300 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

  • In 2015, there were 375,000 self-employed workers in Alberta without employer-based health benefit coverage.

  • Alberta’s Coverage for Seniors Benefit covers seniors and they don’t have to pay a premium, but they do have a co-payment of 30 percent of each prescription up to a maximum of $25.

  • The province’s Non-group Coverage Benefit covers prescriptions for those under 65 and their dependents, but requires a monthly deductible payment of $63.50 for individuals and $118 for families, in addition to a 30% co-payment, up to a maximum of $25 per prescription.

  • Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Albertans without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

British Columbia

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. British Columbia has the lowest rate of access to prescription medications in the country. Like Manitoba, access to public coverage is based on family income and requires a deductible, which has proven to reduce access.

This patchwork coverage leaves many in British Columbia without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

The Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. In Canada’s North, out-of-pocket expenses for prescription medications pose even more of a constraint because living expenses such as food, transportation, and rent are so much higher than in other provinces.

  • The territories are the only place in Canada where public spending accounts for more than half the cost of prescription medicine (62.8 percent in the Yukon, 65.1 percent in the Northwest Territories and 64.9 percent in Nunavut).

  • Prescription drug coverage in the territories is provided through a combination of federal, territorial and private drug plans. Public programs cover prescription drug costs – including dispensing fees and deductibles – for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

  • Northern residents endure high rates of chronic diseases, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, serious illnesses requiring specialized treatments.

  • While most Nunavut Inuit receive coverage for drugs under the federal Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, others still end up paying more for the medication they need simply because they live in the North. This leaves certain prescription costs out of reach for many Nunavut citizens.

  • In the Yukon, both the Children’s Drug Program and the Chronic Disease Program require a deductible (from $250-$500). Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

  • According to a 2015 Wellesley Institute Report, an estimated one third of working Canadians do not receive employer provided health benefits. That means that in the territories, almost 18,000 working Canadians don’t have access to prescription drug coverage.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Northerners without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan, or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.

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