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PBO REPORT CONFIRMS $19B PRICE TAG FOR NATIONAL PHARMACARE - Hundreds of thousands of Canadians would be left behind

News Release

Release Date: 09/28/2017
Staff Reference: Wendy Hope

(Toronto, September 28, 2017) – Today’s report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) on the cost of a national pharmacare program confirms that, even under the most optimistic assumptions, more than $19B in new federal spending would be required to move to a single payer national pharmacare program. At the same time, it will still not cover all the drugs to which Canadians already have access today.

“Canadians should be concerned about the enormous cost to taxpayers of a national pharmacare program that would also not cover thousands of drugs that Canadians currently have access to and may require,” stated Stephen Frank, President and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA). As the PBO report highlights, roughly $3.9 Billion was spent on drugs that would not be covered by the proposed federal plan, leaving hundreds of thousands of Canadians to find alternative funding for drugs they are currently using.

Canadians that access prescription drugs through their employer benefit plans today have access to a wider variety of drugs than what is proposed in the PBO report. The life and health insurance industry is very supportive of initiatives already underway to reduce drugs costs in Canada including the proposed reforms to the PMPRB regulations.

“Prescription drug costs in Canada are too high and there are steps that can be taken quickly to reduce those costs,” stated Mr. Frank. The industry continues to believe that the best system would be one that blends the strengths of both the public and private systems. “In that way all Canadians would continue to have access to a wider variety of prescription drugs while allowing Canadians to realize the savings identified in the PBO report,” added Mr. Frank.

About the CLHIA

The CLHIA is a volunteer association whose member companies account for 99% 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 28 million Canadians. It also holds over $810 billion in assets in Canada and employs nearly 155,000 Canadians.


For more information:
Wendy Hope, Vice President, External Relation
(613) 691-6001/