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Parliamentary report echoes nurses’ twenty-year call for universal pharmacare

Wednesday April 18, 2018 (OTTAWA) – Canada’s nurses applaud today’s release of Pharmacare Now, a report by the House of Commons health committee, recommending the development of a national, universal prescription drug plan, calling it “an ambitious and historic confirmation of what frontline nurses have been saying for years – that pharmacare will save money and save lives.”

“Imagine watching a patient in your care leave the hospital, knowing full well that they can’t afford the medications they need to stay healthy,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “Or seeing a patient return several times a month in diabetic shock because they can’t afford their insulin. Nurses witness these tragedies every day because millions of Canadians still have insufficient or no coverage for prescriptions.”

After two years of hearings, including the appearance of 99 witnesses, the all-party Standing Committee on Health has issued an exhaustive examination of pharmaceutical coverage in Canada and the value of a national pharmacare plan. The report’s primary recommendation is for the expansion of the federal Canada Health Act to include coverage of prescription medications outside of hospitals.

This past February, the federal government signalled its openness to creating a national prescription drug plan for people in Canada by announcing an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, headed by former Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins.

In September 2017, the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) produced a costing document for the health committee, which estimated, in a worst-case scenario, that national pharmacare would save about $4.2 billion per year, compared to current spending on prescriptions.

“This report adds further proof to the fact that a national, universal pharmacare plan will be good for patients, good for public health care and good for Canada’s economy,” said Silas. “Now is the time for the Trudeau government to do the common-sense thing and make universal pharmacare a reality.”

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The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses. The CFNU advocates on key health priorities, such as universal pharmacare, long-term and community care, health human resources, and federal engagement on the future of public health care.

For further information:
Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan, CFNU Government Relations, (613) 513-7754, sebastian@nursesunions.ca

Lauren Snowball, CFNU Communications Officer, (613) 868-5702, lsnowball@nursesunions.ca

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