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Budget measures offer sensible steps to achieve pharmacare for all who need it

News Release

Release Date: 03/19/2019
Staff Reference: Kevin Dorse

(Toronto – March 19, 2019) -- The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association applauds the federal government’s plan to put in place measures to make prescription medication more affordable and more accessible for all Canadians.

The CLHIA is pleased with the budget’s direction towards better coordination of efforts to reduce the high costs of medications that are putting pressure on private and public drug benefit plans alike. The proposed Canadian Drug Agency with a mandate to leverage the full buying power of the Canadian market to lower drug prices makes sense and should reduce costs for all Canadians. Equally, the development of a national formulary is an important step to ensuring a more common level of coverage regardless of where Canadians live or work. In addition, funding to address high-cost drugs for rare diseases is a welcome initiative. The industry is looking forward to further details on these measures from the government.

“Our industry has been urging the federal government to take a sensible approach to pharmacare,” said Stephen Frank, CLHIA’s President and CEO. “One that allows public and private insurers to work together to respond to Canadians’ top concerns - expanding access to those who need it and controlling rising drug costs while protecting the workplace benefits that the vast majority currently have.”

Over 80 per cent of Canadians want governments to focus tax dollars on a solution that provides prescription drug coverage to those who need it, not those who have coverage through workplace plans, according to research conducted this month by Abacus Data. The same research found overwhelming support (94 per cent) for an approach to pharmacare that combines public and private coverage and that would keep group benefit plans intact.

“We’re grateful that the government is listening to what Canadians say they want for national pharmacare – an approach that covers everyone, but that doesn’t result in people losing the workplace benefits they currently have,” said Frank. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the government to arrive at the best possible prescription medicine coverage for all Canadians in the months ahead.”

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. The industry provides a wide range of financial security products such as life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to more than 29 million Canadians. It also holds over $860 billion in assets in Canada and employs more than 155,000 Canadians.

For more information:
Kevin Dorse
Assistant Vice President, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs
(613) 691-6001 /