Stay up to date the future of Canadian healthcare with Ashley Keller for The Health Insider

The cost of living is skyrocketing across Canada and the health of Canadians is feeling the impact.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, nearly a quarter of Canadians in 2024 reported splitting pills, skipping doses or not refilling a prescription due to cost.

They report that 28 per cent of Canadians have had to dig into their grocery or housing budgets to afford their medications.

Not following the instructions that accompany prescriptions can lead to increased hospitalizations, especially for chronic conditions that require careful management.

Attempting to address the issue, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been pushing a new pharmacare act, Bill C-64.

Not everyone is happy with the proposal though. Facing opposition from some government members and provinces, the future of the act is uncertain.

The goals of the act are: Improving the accessibility and affordability of prescription drugs and related products, the appropriate use of such drugs and products, the development of a national formulary of essential prescription drugs and related products, and establishing a national bulk purchasing strategy.

Bill C-64 hopes to eventually cover all necessary medications and devices. But to start, it’ll cover the cost of some contraception and diabetes medications and devices.

Estimating it will help 13 million Canadians, the pharmacare act is trying to remove the main barrier to access: cost.

An admirable goal, it’ll take a lot of preparation and planning before it can be implemented.

The act states that if approved, the Minister of Health, Mark Holland, must create a committee of experts to make recommendations on the implementation of a national, universal, single-payer pharmacare program within 30 days.

He will also have to work with the Canadian Drug Agency who will determine which drugs and devices should be covered under the act, weigh in on purchasing strategies, and define appropriate use of prescription drugs that can be applied around the country.

But executing the plan across Canada might never happen. Alberta and Quebec have already made it known they’d like to opt out of the act and want to invest the money into their own drug plans instead.

Many other provinces are on the fence, waiting for more information before committing either way.

Implementing this act would eventually replace public and private health insurance plans.

Instead, there would be a $5 copayment for name brand drugs. Some populations, like Indigenous Peoples, would be exempt from this cost.

As of now, Pharmacare Act, Bill C-64 is still in the early stages. It has not been approved and there is no timeline for implementation or accomplishing the goals it sets out.

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