Canada’s Labour Leaders Urge Premiers to Collaborate on a National Universal Pharmacare Plan

National, Provincial and Territorial Labour Leaders encourage Canada’s Premiers to unite behind a universal, single-payer, public prescription drug coverage program; In addition to giving every Canadian access to life-saving prescriptions, a universal Pharmacare plan will free up money for much needed investment in healthcare

Don Mills, Ontario, CANADA

SAINT ANDREWS, New Brunswick, July 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During the Council of the Federation meeting in Saint Andrews, N.B., labour leaders from across the country united to deliver a message to Canada’s Premiers – collaboration is critical. 

“Canada’s Premiers will soon be asked to support a Pharmacare plan built on a simple principle - equal access. No matter where in Canada you live, you should be able to access the medications you require to live a healthy life,” said Chris Buckley, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).

Between 2006 and 2015 Canada wasted $62 billion healthcare dollars without a Pharmacare plan. We waste $7.3 billion a year, or $14,000 every minute of every day, monies, that with an additional $1 billion investment in public sector spending could be redirected within our healthcare system.

“The research is clear; a national Pharmacare plan could save Ontarians $4.3 billion per year. Think of the potential investment to be made in Ontario’s healthcare system with a savings of that magnitude. The benefit to the people of Ontario is enormous. $1.55 billion could be allocated to help seniors, providing 31 million more public home care visits, that is nearly 85,000 more seniors that would receive daily homecare visits per year,” said Buckley.

“With another $1.55 billion, we could build 300 more community health centres, providing 1.2 million more Ontario residents with high quality integrated care that would respond to both their physical and mental health needs. A $200 million investment could provide 3,900 more public long-term care beds per year in our province, and with the remaining $1 billion, Ontario could hire additional nurses and healthcare workers, invest in hospitals, put an end to hallway healthcare. Think of the impact and net benefit to Ontarians with those additional investments in Canadians’ health and well-being,” Buckley added.

Without pharmacare, between 370 and 640 Canadians with ischemic heart disease prematurely lose their lives, every year. Between 270 and 420 working-age Canadians with diabetes die prematurely every year. The data suggests that between 550 to 670 older working age Canadians (55-64) die each year, before their time.

“Without a universal single-payer pharmacare plan - up to 70,000 Canadians suffer avoidable health decline and hospitalization every year. That’s roughly the population of North Bay. Imagine if the entire population of North Bay was unnecessarily hospitalized every year, we would demand preventative measures from our government. Universal Pharmacare is that preventative measure, and we’re demanding action from our governments,” said Patty Coates, Secretary-Treasurer of the OFL. 

Every developed country with a universal health care system provides universal coverage of prescription drugs – except Canada. In a country like Canada, no one should be forced to skip their medications or otherwise ignore their doctor’s orders because of costs. Doing so only leads to additional pressures on our healthcare systems, and that costs everyone more in the long run.

“The only plan that will deliver better health outcomes, while saving Canadians money, is a universal single-payer Pharmacare system,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. 

In addition to urging that Premiers support a universal Pharmacare plan, of which the federal advisory council is expected to make recommendations on how to implement, Presidents of provincial and territorial labour federations highlighted for Premiers the need and importance of strengthening the relationship with labour in their communities.

To build inclusive, strong and prosperous provinces, we must collaborate to support the most vulnerable among us. We must also work together to develop poverty reduction strategies that include a recognition of the needs for a living wage, decent working conditions and access to affordable housing.  

Together, Canada’s provincial and territorial labour federations give voice to over three million workers, represented by the Alberta Federation of Labour, British Columbia Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress, Manitoba Federation of Labour, New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Northern Territories Federation of Labour, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Ontario Federation of Labour, Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Yukon Federation of Labour.

The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For further information contact:

Rob Halpin
Executive Director,
Ontario Federation of Labour l 416-707-9014