Universal, comprehensive, public pharmacare for Canada

Pharmacare 2020

We are experts in health care and public policy concerned with the quality, equity, and sustainability of Canada’s health care system. We believe that ensuring universal access to appropriately prescribed, affordably priced, and equitably financed medicines should not be a partisan issue. We therefore urge all political parties to commit to implementing a universal, comprehensive, public pharmacare plan – beginning with federal legislation and budget commitments in 2020.


Access to medicines is a human right.

Pharmaceuticals are so important to health and well-being that the United Nations has declared that all nations should ensure universal and equitable access to them. To fulfil that obligation, every high-income country with a universal health care system provides universal coverage of medically necessary prescription drugs – every such country except Canada.


Medicare is incomplete without pharmacare.

In Canada, universal public health insurance effectively ends as soon as a patient receives a prescription to fill. This creates inequities in access to medicines, exposes households and businesses to unnecessary financial risk, and reduces Canada’s purchasing power on the global pharmaceutical market. None of these things is good for the health care system or the economy.


Canadians deserve better.

Since the 1960s, five separate national commissions have recommended that medically necessary prescription drugs be included in Canada’s universal, public health insurance system. They all recommended such a program because it is the most equitable and affordable way to ensure universal access to necessary medicines in Canada.


Canada has a plan.

The latest major government report on pharmacare – the June 2019 report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare – provides a detailed and feasible plan for implementing universal pharmacare. This plan begins with federal legislation and investments in 2020.


The evidence is clear.

National pharmacare does not need to be studied further before proceeding with implementation. Credible research indicates that a universal, comprehensive, public pharmacare program would improve access to necessary medicines and significantly reduce financial strains on Canadian households and businesses.


Now is the time to act.

Canada has the knowledge and capacity to run a world-class universal pharmacare system. Such a program will improve the quality, equity, and sustainability of Canada’s health care system and the competitiveness of the Canadian economy. This is why we – more than 1,200 experts in health care and public policy – recommend that Canada implement a universal, comprehensive, public pharmacare system without delay.

Read our letter.

View our signatories.

Learn more about pharmacare.