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Statement: CLHIA disappointed by the House of Commons’ missed opportunity to clarify Pharmacare Act

News Release

Release Date: 06/04/2024
Staff Reference: Kevin Dorse

(Toronto, June 4, 2024) Responding to the passage of Bill C-64, the Pharmacare Act by the House of Commons, Stephen Frank, President and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association has made the following statement. 

“Canada’s life and health insurers believe all Canadians should be able to access the drugs they’ve been prescribed. Both workplace plans and publicly funded plans have to be part of achieving universal access. 

Late last month, the Minister of Health told MPs on the health committee that those who have an existing drug plan are going to continue to have access to those plans and the coverage they provide. 

If that’s the Minister’s intent, it is not at all clear from Bill C-64. Its text repeatedly calls for single-payer pharmacare in Canada, with no mention of workplace benefit plans. While not defined in the bill, “single-payer” is understood to mean one payer – in this case, the federal government. 

The bill risks disrupting workplace drug coverage for 27 million Canadians. It risks limiting choice in the specific medications people have access to. And it risks using scarce federal fiscal resources to replace existing coverage that people value, leaving millions uninsured or underinsured for the drugs they need. 

We, and other witnesses urged the House of Commons health committee to amend the bill to reflect the Minister’s view that that workplace benefits are not at risk. That the committee did not do this is a missed opportunity and concerning to working people and their families who count on their existing workplace benefits. 

It is imperative that the bill be amended to reflect the Minister’s own statements to ensure existing drug coverage provided by workplace plans is not unintentionally disrupted.” 
About the CLHIA  
The CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada's life and health insurance business. These insurers provide financial security products including life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to over 29 million Canadians. They hold over $1 trillion in assets in Canada and employ more than 170,000 Canadians.  
For more information: 
Kevin Dorse 
Assistant Vice President, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs 
(613) 691-6001 /