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Ensuring accessible and affordable quality medicines for Canadians

Ensuring accessible and affordable quality medicines for Canadians

Canada NewsWire

Pharmacare legislation includes universal access to contraception and diabetes medications. 

HAMILTON, ON, May 24, 2024 /CNW/ - Canadians should have access to quality medicines, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. People should not have to choose between paying for their medications and putting food on the table. Unfortunately, many Canadians are still forced to make this impossible decision.

That's why, today, the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, joined the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Honourable Ya'ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, and Lisa Hepfner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, to reiterate the Government of Canada's commitment to help make essential and preventive medications more accessible and affordable, on behalf of the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health. 

In February 2024, the Government of Canada introduced legislation that proposes foundational principles for the first phase of national universal pharmacare in Canada and the intent to work with provinces and territories to provide universal, single-payer coverage for a number of contraceptives and diabetes medications. The Pharmacare Act is a concrete step towards the vision of a national pharmacare program that is accessible, inclusive, and fiscally sustainable—today and for the next generation.

Coverage for contraceptives will mean that nine million Canadians of reproductive age will have better access to contraception and reproductive autonomy, reducing the risk of unintended pregnancies and improving their ability to plan for the future. Cost has consistently been identified as the single most important barrier to accessing these medications and the cost is unevenly borne by women and gender-diverse Canadians. Canadians of reproductive age will now have affordable access to a comprehensive suite of contraceptive drugs and devices.

Diabetes is a complex disease that has no cure, but can be treated with safe and effective medications. However, one in four Canadians with diabetes has reported not following their treatment plan due to cost. Improving access to diabetes medications will help improve the health of 3.7 million Canadians living with diabetes, and reduce the risk of serious life-changing health complications, such as blindness or amputations.

The Government of Canada will consult widely about the way forward and will work with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other partners and stakeholders to improve the accessibility, affordability, and appropriate use of pharmaceutical products, by reducing financial barriers and contributing to physical and mental health and well-being.

Financial barriers should not be the reason people cannot access prescription drugs and related products. We are determined to work towards a plan where Canadians can obtain their medication as prescribed, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. This is an important step forward to improving health equity, affordability, and health outcomes, as well as having the potential of long-term savings to the health care system.

Quotes

"Each and every person in Canada should have access to the prescription drugs they need. That's why we are working with our partners towards the first phase of national universal pharmacare. This important next step will provide universal access to contraception and diabetes medication that will be transformational in improving health outcomes in Canada."

The Honourable Mark Holland

Minister of Health

"Gender equality in health means recognizing and addressing the unique barriers women and gender-diverse people often face in accessing healthcare, treatment, and research. This includes overcoming obstacles to consistent and appropriate contraception use, which can be particularly challenging for these groups in Canada. By improving the accessibility, affordability, and reliability of pharmaceutical products, we can ensure that women and gender-diverse people receive the equitable healthcare they deserve. This will lead to better health outcomes and a more inclusive healthcare system for all."

The Honourable Marci Ien

Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

"We know that the cost of prescription medication has become too much for far too many people in Canada. Our government is determined to work towards a plan where Canadians can access their medication as prescribed, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay."

The Honourable Ya'ara Saks

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

"People should not have to choose between paying for their medications and putting food on the table. Not being able to afford medications or lacking access to contraceptives can lead to increased hospitalizations and higher healthcare costs. By addressing these obstacles, the Government of Canada is working to improve individual health outcomes and alleviate pressure on our healthcare system."

Lisa Hepfner

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, and Member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain

Quick Facts
  • On December 18, 2023, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency with an investment of over $89.5 million over five years, starting in 2024-25. The Agency will provide the dedicated leadership and coordination needed to make Canada's drug system more sustainable and prepared for the future and help Canadians achieve better health outcomes.
  • On March 22, 2023, the Government of Canada announced measures in support of the first-ever National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases, with an investment of up to $1.5 billion over three years to help increase access to, and the affordability of, effective drugs for rare diseases.
  • PEI residents have saved over $2 million in out-of-pocket costs on more than 230,000 prescriptions under PEI's $5 copay program, which was launched in June 2023 and reduced copays for almost 60% of medications regularly used by Island residents. These latest improvements are an important milestone of the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs (IAAPD) initiative that provides federal funding to PEI to improve access to prescription drugs and make prescriptions drugs more affordable for Island residents.
Associated Links

SOURCE Women and Gender Equality Canada



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