Pharmacare for everyone

ForeveryoneCanada’s unions are marking Labour Day with the launch of a campaign calling for prescription drug coverage for all Canadians.

“Canada’s unions have fought hard to win health insurance coverage for our members,” said Kamloops and District Labour Council President, Barb Nederpel. “But we’re not stopping there.”

Canadians take great pride in having a universal health care system where people are able to access treatment, regardless of where you live or how much you make.  However, there is a massive gap in the public health care system when it comes to prescription drug coverage. In fact, Canada is the only industrialized country with a universal health care system without a pharmacare program.

“Canada’s current patchwork prescription drug system is so inefficient that our drug costs are the second highest in the world, just under the United States,” says Nederpel.  “Plus, our inconsistent coverage and uneven access to certain drugs mean that people often pay different rates for the same medications.”

According to the Canadian Labour Congress, about 8.4 million working Canadians don’t have prescription drug coverage. Younger workers and women are most affected because they’re more likely to work part-time, low-wage, or precarious jobs. But even Canadians who have coverage through work are paying more and more out of pocket, because of ever-increasing co-payments and deductibles.

“As a result 3.5 million Canadians can’t afford to fill their prescriptions,” Nederpel said. “Here in BC, a survey found that 29% of British Columbians, more than any other province in the country, said they or someone in their household are splitting their pills or skipping days to stretch the prescriptions they do fill,” she said.

Nobody should be forced to choose between paying for groceries and paying for the medication they need,” said Nederpel.  “That’s why we’re working to win a universal prescription drug plan that covers all Canadians regardless of their income, age or where they live.”

The campaign, “Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone” launches on Labour Day across Canada.  To learn more and sign the petition, go to  aplanforeveryone.ca.

“With an annual investment of only $1 billion by our federal government, Canadians would save $7.3 billion a year on prescriptions, just through the power of bulk purchasing under a single plan,” says Nederpel.  “Imagine the savings we would have in health care and other social safety nets if everyone could take their medications properly.”

The Kamloops and District Labour Council, which represents 13,000 unionized workers in the region, will be hosting the annual Labour Day Picnic on September 4th, at McDonald Park, between 10 am and 2 pm.  It will be a fun filled day with hundreds of giveaways and prizes, dunk tank, popcorn, face painting, local musicians. Hot dogs will be served up and 100% of the donations will go to the Food Bank.

“We hope to see everyone there having a great time and learn more about the community building that Labour does,” adds Nederpel.  “And it is a good opportunity to come out and show support for a national Pharmacare program.”

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