• Horwath promises NDP will give Ontario full dental coverage, convert student loans to grants

    … five key promises in the party’s platform for the June 7 election… also include improvements to health and long-term care, returning Hydro One to public ownership while cutting rates, providing universal pharmacare and raising corporate tax rates.. “We are going to make sure every working person in Ontario has dental benefits… The dental program will be called “Ontario Benefits” and will be portable, moving with Ontarians when they switch employers, she said.

  • Justin Trudeau should not glibly dismiss universal programs

    There are understandable reasons to balk at the prospect of creating new universal programs. The start-up costs can be daunting and if Ottawa is to share the burden with the provinces, as it must, then it will have to wade into the forbidding fed-prov morass. Still, at least in the case of pharmacare, and arguably for daycare, too, the evidence is clear that both the public and the economics support a universal program. So why the opposition?

  • What does the federal budget mean for low-income Canadians?

    Perhaps the most significant aspect of the budget in terms of poverty reduction was the announcement that the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) would become the more generous Canada Workers Benefit (CWB). This change… works by topping up the incomes of working people… once wages exceed a certain threshold the amount decreases with each dollar earned until it reaches zero.

  • National pharmacare is possible – but it won’t come easy

    While a single, national plan would theoretically save money on drug purchases, it would also mean a large-scale shifting of costs from the private sector to the public sector – a net $7.3-billion annually… The single biggest impediment to pharmacare is the unwillingness of federal, provincial and territorial governments to absorb those costs and then increase taxes to pay the bill – even if the consumer comes out paying less in the long run.

  • Opioid addiction should be treated with prescribed medication when possible, new Canadian guideline says

    The guideline… outlines a step-by-step approach that promotes the use of relatively inexpensive medication that reduces cravings for opioid drugs… opioid addiction should be treated as a chronic disease in doctors’ offices, similar to diabetes or hypertension. The guideline advises against detox programs that discharge patients after several days, with no further addiction treatment or medication to support recovery… at least 80 to 90 per cent of patients will relapse after discharge

  • The federal budget is out. How does it measure up?

    This year’s budget takes some positive steps forward on gender equality and science funding, but comes up short on the bold policy moves that will make a real difference for Canadians—universal child care, pharmacare, health care, and tax fairness… when it comes to substantive action to advance a truly feminist agenda, we’re still waiting for the big investments required to build a more equitable and inclusive economy. Here’s some of what was missing from Budget 2018…

  • Bill Morneau sends a mixed message on national pharmacare

    What’s irresponsible is preserving the current system, or amending it in a way that keeps drug costs uncommonly high (Canada has one of the highest per-capita rates of pharmaceutical spending in the OECD). Achieving universal coverage without government bulk-buying is likely to keep the cost curve straining upward… a wholesale reworking of Canada’s drug regime seems like a credible possibility. The Finance Minister should let his new pharmacare czar go where the evidence leads.

  • Bill Morneau’s unwise decision to backtrack on pharmacare

    When Canadian medicare was being debated in the 1960s, a similar division arose between those who wanted a full-scale universal program and those who, like Morneau today, merely wanted to fill in the gaps… eventually, the medicare universalists won. Both politically and logically their arguments simply made more sense.

  • Budget takes small steps toward pharmacare, but path littered with financial, political land mines

    It won’t mean that all drugs will be covered for all people at all times. To control costs, there has to be a formulary of drugs that are covered and policies like generic substitution (not covering brand-name drugs if similar, lower-cost generics are available.) Then there is the deal-breaker, money. Sure, pharmacare could save money, at least theoretically… if bulk buying can bring down prices 25 per cent, if use doesn’t increase notably, and if there is a strict formulary. Lots of ifs.

  • Hoskins steps down as health minister to head national pharmacare strategy

    The federal government is eyeing a new, national pharmacare program and will name departing Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins to lead the effort. Hoskins, a doctor who was the key architect of the province’s OHIP+ providing free prescriptions for youth, announced Monday afternoon that he was stepping down as minister and MPP for St. Paul’s, effective immediately… “In politics in Canada, Eric Hoskins in particular has been the most ardent and most articulate champion of a universal pharmacare system”