On August 28th, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was one of a select group of stakeholders invited to participate in a consultation with the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
Established as part of Budget 2018, the Council has been tasked with providing advice to the government on how best to implement a national prescription drug coverage program.
While the Chamber was happy to represent Winnipeg’s business community in this important discussion, Chamber CEO Loren Remillard noted it’ a concern the government appears to have decided to proceed with an expensive national program without understanding what problem it’s trying to solve.
“If the issue is coverage for those who aren’t currently insured, then a national program should complement what the private sector is already doing,” Remillard said. “If this is about the expense of drugs, then let’s look at ways to reduce those costs for everyone.”
Currently, more than 25 million Canadians have access to prescription drug coverage through their group health benefit plans. Many employer-sponsored plans cover a wider range of medications than existing provincial plans and also offer innovations like case management programs for individuals with chronic conditions.
“What has worked best in this country is an approach that embraces the best of the private, public and non-profit sectors,” said Remillard. “With Pharmacare, we urge the government to proceed with caution, and to recognize the role the private sector plays in providing health care, and the significant number of Canadians who are employed in the health benefits industry.”
The federal government has released a discussion paper on National Pharmacare and is seeking feedback from the public. This will also be one of the topics of discussion at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM taking place in Thunder Bay later this month.
What do you think about a national prescription drug program, and how might it impact your business? Send your thoughts to Colin Fast, Director of Policy at email@example.com.