• National pharmacare ‘blueprint’ will be unveiled next spring

    … the provinces do want to know “who is going to pay for the transformation, and how is the pie going to be divided after that?” … “It’s very important to provinces and territories that the federal commitment is there, it’s substantial, and that provinces and territories have confidence in that cost-sharing and that federal contribution, and that federal contribution will be there today and also into the future.”

  • Pharmacare and Politics

    Provincial drug plans today pay less than half of the total cost of prescription drugs; the rest is paid by private insurance plans or out of patients’ pockets. A set of single-payer “first-dollar” drug plans would likely more than double provincial and territorial government spending on drugs. Unless there are accompanying large increases in federal transfers, those governments are unlikely to agree to this approach. Increased federal transfers, however, would ultimately require higher federal taxes, making federal politicians less enthusiastic about this option.

  • After legalizing pot, is decriminalizing other drugs the logical next step?

    … Public-health officials have long recognized a reality that elected politicians are only belatedly appreciating: Drug use and dependency are best addressed with the tools of health policy, not those of criminal justice… decriminalization… upholds worthwhile social norms – that making, smuggling and trafficking illegal drugs is wrong – while acknowledging that those in the grip of dependency are ill.

  • Health officials in B.C., Toronto call for widespread decriminalization of illicit drugs

    … compared with criminal charges, diversion programs can reduce criminal justice system costs and reduce adverse social and economic consequences for the individual. A 2008 study from Australia found that the majority of participants without prior offences did not commit further offences and those with prior offences had reduced rates for reoffending after participating in the program. Under decriminalization… it would remain illegal to manufacture, sell and distribute illicit drugs.

  • National pharmacare will require tax hike, former budget watchdog warns

    … there’s a solid argument to be made for national pharmacare, because it would help Canadians save significantly on their out-of-pocket drug expenses and create more consistency in terms of health costs across the country. The 2017 parliamentary budget office study estimated such a plan would save Canadians more than $4-billion every year on prescriptions. But… the federal balance sheet would become unsustainable if it assumed the full cost of such a program.

  • ‘No Jab, No Pay’. In Australia, no excuse accepted for unvaccinated kids

    The financial penalty for non-vaccination is imposed principally on the poor – those who receive income-tested benefits – while it is wealthier parents who are most likely to eschew vaccination… But the majority of parents of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated kids are not dogmatic; they are overwhelmed, usually by monetary and logistical issues. What they need are not financial penalties, but practical help – carrots, not sticks.

  • 30 years later, child poverty remains a national disgrace

    Despite Canada being one of the world’s richest countries, 4.8 million people live in poverty — 1.2 million are children. More than 850,000 Canadians rely on food banks — and those numbers are growing — and more than 250,000 Canadians experience some form of homelessness annually… Instead of cutting poverty over the last three decades, we’ve seen tax and program cuts, the steady growth of precarious work and insufficient investments in our social safety net.

  • Rare diseases, expensive drugs – Health Canada showdown coming

    When Canada’s health ministers sit down together on Thursday and Friday in Winnipeg, talks are expected to revolve around Ottawa’s development of a national pharmacare plan. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix wants that plan to include a mechanism to grapple with expensive drugs for rare diseases – a fast-growing cost pressure on the public purse.

  • A voter’s guide to the 2018 Ontario election

    The campaign of 2018 featured bold social policies for pharmacare, dental care and child care, though they may never come to pass. The bad news: The parties’ plans to pay for their promises don’t quite add up — and in the case of the Progressive Conservatives, were never made public as promised. The worst news: None of the above may matter, because this election is being fought mostly over personalities, not policies. For better or for worse, here’s how the major parties rank on five major issues facing the province in this election:

  • Hot!

    Two worlds collide [Ontario Election 2018]

    … governments that are afraid to raise taxes have two choices—go into deficit or sell off public assets. Part of Wynne’s unpopularity rests on this fundamental dilemma. She decided to both go into deficit and sell off public assets, namely the province’s majority shares in Hydro One. Outrageously high hydro bills ensued and Wynne is having trouble living that down… The moral of the story is that activist premiers may be capable of moving the needle on key social policies, but unless they’re equally progressive on the revenue side of the equation, it’s hard to strike a true balance.