Unifor 2002: How a national public drug plan affects all Canadians

Unifor 2002: How a national public drug plan affects all Canadians

June 6, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Unifor Local 2002 EAP Co-ordinator, Rita Reid, and Benefits Representatives Michelle Lapierre (Jazz Customer and Aircraft Services) and Tom Troughton (Jazz Maintenance) attended the Canadian Health Coalition’s policy conference on a national public drug plan in Ottawa April 10-11, 2017. The conference brought together activists from across the country to “discuss how we can lower drug costs, increase drug safety, ensure equitable access for everyone across Canada, and learn lessons from countries around the world who have already implemented [a national drug plan.]” Countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom and Sweden have all successfully realized a unified plan.
The proposed national pharmacare program would replace our current patchwork prescription-drug system where several methods of payment from public and private sectors — including payments from individuals — are the norm. The coverage system in place depends on a number of variables, such as where one lives in Canada, age or employment status. Millions of Canadians fall through the cracks and aren’t getting the necessary access to prescription drugs that should be a fundamental human right.
It is estimated that one in every 10 Canadians cannot afford the drugs they are prescribed and end up ill, which can lead to preventable emergency visits and hospitalization. While in hospital, a patient avoids out-of-pocket expenses, receiving care and prescriptions paid for by tax dollars. Both the illness and the high cost of hospitalization can be prevented with access to a national pharmacare program, leaving hospital beds for those who need them more.
The proposed national pharmacare program would be federally operated, much like the successful Canadian Blood Services model. This would allow the public access to a number of things, including equal coverage regardless of location or financial status, and ultimately decreasing preventable illness.
Having a national drug agency would improve drug safety by providing unbiased results and medical studies — which are currently protected and censored — to the public; objective, accurate information to doctors; independent analysis and new drugs; and a national database to track adverse reactions.
Numerous drugs that were promoted by drug companies who gave incentives to doctors have been found harmful or ineffective. OxyContin, an opioid, is arguably the best known and has proven to be incredibly addictive, leading to overdose and, in some cases, death. This narcotic funded the Canadian Medical Association Journal and was pushed heavily by pharmaceutical companies for a profit.
Having one system would be cost-effective for all. A national drug program would save on administrative fees and provide optimal purchasing power. Drug companies, under the current system, are able to inflate prices to the point where few can afford them. Prices that are negotiated on a national level could result in up to $11 billion in savings for our population of 36 million. As prices are negotiated down, the savings are reflected in insurance premiums.
Canadians who are fortunate enough to have an insurer cover some or all costs, know that insurance premiums keep increasing. Often those who pay for their own insurance do everything possible to keep premiums down, including getting maintenance prescriptions filled every three months to lighten the dispensary fee or opting for a generic brand whenever possible. But for those who don’t have coverage, a national drug plan may be the only thing keeping them from preventable illnesses.
This is why the plan has received great support from academics, health economists, organizations like the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Council of Canadians and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
The CLC’s lobby of the Federal Government for implementation of the National Drug Plan is its number one goal. However, they cannot make it a reality without support. We encourage you all to sign the Pan-Canadian Universal Pharmacare E-Petition on the Parliament of Canada’s Website (Link below) or go to petitions.parl.gc.ca and enter E-959 in the search bar.
In solidarity,
Michelle Lapierre (Jazz Customer and Aircraft Services)
888-226-8885 Ext 289
Tom Troughton (Jazz Maintenance)

Want to know more? Click the following links for the petition, studies and what you can do to help.


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