Let's Create a National Pharmacare Program
December 16, 2014
Toronto – The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) supports the creation of a national pharmaceutical coverage program in Canada to ensure that people who need drugs are able to access them, regardless of their income or employment status.
ACT is encouraged by the decision of Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, that the time has come to remove the barriers that prevent access to pharmaceuticals.
For years, ACT has helped lead the HIV-sector in calling for the introduction of a federal program that covers the high cost of treating chronic or life threatening diseases and conditions. We are hopeful that this latest announcement signals the beginning of a new movement to introduce such a program. Few sectors have faced the challenges that HIV has posed, and continues to pose, especially concerning access to appropriate pharmaceuticals in an affordable and expedient fashion.
Today, Canada remains one of the few industrialised countries without a nationally supported catastrophic program to assist with the out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs.
People living with HIV in Ontario often face multiple barriers to accessing the care they need. For example, some may have to leave their job to go on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to access life-saving drugs. Others, without drug coverage through employment, may try to access the Trillium Drug program, but even then the annual deductible can be prohibitive, or medications may not be included on the provincial formulary.
Not only will universal pharmaceutical coverage save lives, it will reduce healthcare costs and decrease inequalities in Canada. Dr. Hoskins is correct: the time has come to put pharmacare back on the national agenda, and this time to see it through.
AIDS Committee of Toronto
416-340-8484 ext. 225