Statement from the Together for Better Health coalition on the 2021 federal budget

Together for Better Health, an advocacy group committed to raising awareness of the risks of a potential single-payer pharmacare system, has issued the below statement concerning today’s federal budget:

Canadians agree there is a significant problem in our country. Far too many of our fellow citizens continue to go without access to prescription drugs. This is an important concern that must be addressed.

Today’s federal budget correctly identifies the need for access to prescription medicines for all Canadians. But we remain concerned that the federal government’s current approach will put employer-provided prescription drug coverage at risk. The loss of these comprehensive benefits would be devastating to the health of 26 million Canadians who rely on their prescription drug coverage today, more than 98 percent of whom have maintained their health benefits throughout the pandemic.

The budget’s ongoing commitment to a National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs for Rare Diseases is a positive step that will enhance instead of risk existing plans.  

Together for Better Health’s “Keep My Plan” campaign is raising awareness that a single-payer pharmacare system would result in families losing access to many of the medications they depend on. The comprehensive list of drugs now available to patients through their employer-provided plan would be replaced with a made-in-Ottawa drug list that allows for access to a reduced number of drugs. Further, Canadians will pay more for less coverage. A single-payer pharmacare system would cost Canadians anywhere from $15 billion to $30 billion a year – an astronomical amount which would be better spent providing access to medications for the one in 10 Canadians who currently do not have any drug coverage.

We encourage all Canadians to visit www.KeepMyPlan.ca to urge their MP to say no to a single-payer pharmacare program. Instead, governments should work towards finding a solution that allows Canadians to maintain their employer-provided health benefits while also providing access to prescription drugs for Canadians who currently do not have drug coverage.