BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Winter 2018
From the President
Pharmacare for everyone
Save lives. Save money.
It’s time to stop talking and get on with it.
By Diane Wood
President, BC FORUM
From page 3
There are some huge holes in the Canada Health Act. The act ensures that Canadians, wherever they live, will have access to medically necessary services provided by doctors and hospitals.
There’s no provision to cover prescription drugs you may need when you’re discharged from the hospital, or drugs prescribed by your doctor.
The Canada Health Act is also silent on home support and long term care for seniors and people with disabilities.
Working with the labour movement, seniors groups and other allies, BC FORUM has long maintained that our entire health care system is weakened by the omission of these vital services.
We are proud to be among the 80 organizations who are calling for comprehensive public drug coverage for everyone who lives in Canada. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to speak with British Columbians about Pharmacare. They immediately think of the provincial “Fair Pharmacare” program. That’s not what we’re talking about.
The Dave Barrett government first introduced Pharmacare in BC in 1974.
In 2003, the Gordon Campbell government brought in income testing as part of its reckless attack on public services and changed the name to Fair Pharmacare.
In the first change to the program since then, the John Horgan government has reduced or eliminated deductibles for those with household net incomes below $45,000, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
We give the provincial government full credit for that. It will help 240,000 families.
It is, however, no substitute for federal action to ensure that everyone who needs them will have access to prescribed drugs without financial barriers.
Since the 1940s we’ve seen a plethora of reports and Royal Commission recommendations call for a national pharmacare program. After two years of study and hearings, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health recently did the same – noting as others have done that Canada is the only nation with public health care that doesn’t cover needed drugs.
National pharmacare will save lives and save money. It will help keep people out of hospital. It will allow people with chronic conditions to live fuller, more rewarding lives.
Logic. Compassion. Cost effectiveness. Human decency. How hard can it be?
We’ll know the answer this spring, when the federal government’s Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare delivers its report.
Personally, I’m hopeful. But I’m not optimistic that it will result in immediate action. It may be that all we see is the inclusion of Pharmacare – again – in the Liberal platform for the next federal election.