Advocates join NDP in calling for universal drug coverage

Today, health professionals joined NDP Leader Ryan Meili in calling on the Sask. Party government to support universal drug coverage for Canadians. The federal government is currently formulating a course of action, but the Sask. Party has not thrown its support behind this important initiative.

“Canada is the only country with universal health insurance that doesn’t have universal drug coverage,” said Meili. “This gap does an incredible amount of damage, especially for lower income households struggling to make ends meet. When people are forced to choose between paying their power bill or buying their medication, that’s not right. So why has Scott Moe so far failed to stand up for universal drug coverage for Saskatchewan?”

Medications are the second largest cost in Canadian healthcare. Canada’s per capita spending on drugs is 62 per cent higher than Britain’s and 136 per cent higher than Denmark. And Saskatchewan people in particular pay the price: in 2015, low-income seniors in Saskatchewan spent 10 times as much on prescription drugs as their counterparts in Ontario. If Canada had a national drug coverage plan, spending would drastically decrease, leaving more money in the pockets of Saskatchewan seniors.

In 2015, more than 150 physicians, pharmacists, and nurses signed a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau highlighting the importance of a universal drug coverage plan. Dr. Sally Mahood of the Family Medicine Unity was one of the signatories, and joined Meili and healthcare practitioners at the Legislature today.

“Pharmaceuticals are so essential to health and well-being that the World Health Organization has declared that all nations should ensure universal access to necessary medicines,” said Mahood. “Canada needs to get on board. We are here at the Legislative Assembly to ensure that our elected representatives understand just how important we think this is for Saskatchewan.”

“With PST increases and a slowing economy, households are having to pinch pennies and make tough choice – choices they shouldn’t be forced to make,” said Meili. “While we wait for the federal government to decide whether or not to live up to its pharmacare promise, there’s an important role for the province in advocating for a plan that works for us.”

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