With the announcement of a Pharmacare Advisory Council in the 2018 federal budget, the issue is now one being discussed by both our provincial and federal governments. For the business community, at the Chamber Network level pharmacare has been an issue that has been discussed through the policy resolution process on several occasions with no real definitive result.
Now though with increasing government support the time has come to define the position of the business community and offer its perspective to our bureaucrats and elected leaders.
During the discussions in which I’ve been involved, debate often starts with how could Canada be a progressive country and yet not offer a pharmacare program? Not the best place to start as it could potentially lead to a solution that doesn’t fit Canada’s or Ontario’s true need; a solution that is more expensive than it needs to be, or creates more red tape.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recently released a report called “Principles for an Effective Pharmacare Program”. The report authored by Ashley Challinor, Director of Policy, lays out a test of five principles in which a new pharmcare plan could be evaluated.
Those five principles include:
Currently, as detailed in the OCC report, medicines taken in hospital are covered while those in the community are accessed through a variety of means including public drug plans, private group plans, individual insurance plans and payments out of pocket. Given the current breadth of access the OCC is encouraging collaborative discussions with all health care system stakeholders from industry to policy makers and patients. Should consideration be given to a pharmacare program, the decision to move forward must also be evidence-based.
Who currently has coverage in Canada? The OCC report explains that with the implementation of OHIP+ (coverage to all Ontarians under 25), the Conference Board of Canada reports that 1.8% of Canadians do not have access to drug coverage and that 4.1 million Canadians that don’t have private coverage are eligible but not enrolled in a public plan.
The OCC is also asking that the OHIP+ and any other new pharmacare program be evaluated after one year so adjustments can be made, if necessary. The Chamber Network also believes that the evaluation should be made public.
Ultimately, the business community is asking for a collaborative and evaluative solution that is targeted at those who are most affected while also creating a climate of sustainability and innovation for the industry.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce membership includes a significant number of members in the Health and Wellness category, Peterborough is the location of a regional hospital and we also know of continued innovation in health care through the Innovation Cluster and new businesses coming through entrepreneurial programs.
With nursing and new programs around mental health and healing arts Fleming College and Trent University are building the next generation of health care workers.
How can Peterborough weigh in on the discussion?