As we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, we see the proof that our healthcare system is on the brink of collapse.
Millions of families still do not have access to the medicines they need because they do not have private drug insurance from their employer. The number of uninsured people who are forced to go without their medication is increasing; more people are contract workers, self-employed, or have jobs without medical coverage. Too many seniors are also putting their health at risk because they cannot have drug insurance or the means to pay out of pocket.
The stress and worry felt by too many Canadians is no accident. These are the direct impacts of deliberate choices made by Liberal and Conservative governments. They have deliberately let drug companies defraud patients and choose to let millions of uninsured or underinsured people pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars out of their own pockets for much-needed drugs.
Today, Canada is the only wealthy country with a publicly funded health care system that does not include universal drug insurance. We are the third highest priced prescription drug in the world, straining our health systems across the country. And we also have to contend with a disparate set of programs and private protections – for those fortunate enough to have insurance coverage. In the face of a global pandemic, the need for a strong pan-Canadian drug insurance program has never been greater.
New Democrats know we can do better. Our party fought for the universal health care system for everyone, and in the same way, we are fighting today to include quality drug insurance for everyone, regardless of your job, your place of residence, age, state of health or income. We will work quickly, with the provinces, to get the program in place by the end of 2022, injecting $ 10 billion annually from the federal government. This will go hand in hand with the development of a pan-Canadian strategy on drug coverage for rare diseases, so that coverage is no longer determined by where you live or by your family’s private insurance, such as is currently the case.
A pan-Canadian drug insurance program will allow access to essential drugs and medical devices, just as we currently have access to health centers offering free care, because they are funded by an insurance system public under which everyone is covered. So at the pharmacy, you’ll need your health insurance card – not your credit card.
Our plan ends co-payments, deductibles and premiums that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year to families.