Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers

NEW RELEASE: Canada's Labour Leaders Urge Premiers to Collaborate on a National Universal Pharmacare Plan

 July 19, 2018


Canada’s Labour Leaders Urge Premiers to Collaborate on a National Universal Pharmacare Plan

National, Provincial and Territorial Labour Leaders encourage Canada’s Premiers to unite behind a universal, single-payer, public prescription drug coverage program. In addition to giving every Canadian access to life-saving prescriptions, a universal Pharmacare plan will free up money for much needed investment in healthcare.

(Saint Andrews, N.B.) During the Council of the Federation meeting in Saint Andrews, N.B., Labour leaders from across the country united to deliver a message to Canada’s Premiers – collaboration on Pharmacare is critical.

“Canada’s Premiers will soon be asked to support a Pharmacare plan built on a simple principle - equal access. No matter where in Canada you live, you should be able to access the medications you require to live a healthy life,” said Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) and Chair of the Federation of Labour Presidents.

Between 2006 and 2015 Canada wasted $62 billion healthcare dollars without a Pharmacare plan. We waste $7.3 billion a year, or $14,000 every minute of every day, monies, that with an additional $1 billion investment in public sector spending could be redirected within our healthcare system.

“The research is clear; a national Pharmacare plan could save Manitoba $366 million per year. Think of the potential investment to be made in Manitoba’s healthcare system with a savings of that magnitude. The benefit to the people of Manitoba is enormous.

• We could allocate $133 million to help seniors, providing 2 million more public home care visits - that is nearly 5,000 more seniors that would receive daily homecare visits per year.
• With another $133 million, we could build 25 more community health centres, providing 100,000 more Manitoba residents with high quality integrated care that would respond to both their physical and mental health needs.
• A $17 million investment could provide 400 more public long-term care beds per year in our province, and with the  remaining $83 million, Manitoba could hire additional healthcare workers, invest in hospitals and put an end to hallway healthcare.


“Think of the impact and net benefit to Manitoba with those additional investments in Canadians health and well-being,” Rebeck added.

Without Pharmacare, between 370 and 640 Canadians with ischemic heart disease prematurely lose their lives, every year. Between 270 and 420 working-age Canadians with diabetes die prematurely every year, the data suggests that between 550 to 670 older working age Canadians (55-64) die each year, before their time.

“Without a universal single-payer Pharmacare plan, up to 70,000 Canadians suffer avoidable health decline and hospitalization every year. That’s roughly the population of Brandon, Thompson and Selkirk combined. Imagine if the entire population of Brandon, Thompson and Selkirk was unnecessarily hospitalized every year, we would demand preventative measures from our government. Universal Pharmacare is that preventative measure, and we’re demanding action from our governments,” said Rebeck.

Every developed country with a universal health care system provides universal coverage of prescription drugs – except Canada. In a country like Canada, no one should be forced to skip their medications or otherwise ignore their doctor’s orders because of costs. Doing so only leads to additional pressures on our healthcare systems, and that costs everyone more in the long run.

“The only plan that will deliver better health outcomes, while saving Canadians money, is a universal single-payer Pharmacare system,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

In addition to urging that Premiers support a universal Pharmacare plan, of which the federal advisory council is expected to make recommendations on how to implement, Presidents of provincial and territorial labour federations highlighted for Premiers the need and importance of strengthening the relationship with labour in their communities.

To build inclusive, strong and prosperous provinces, we must collaborate to create good, family-supporting jobs and to support the most vulnerable among us. We must also work together to develop poverty reduction strategies that include a recognition of the needs for a living wage, decent working conditions and access to affordable housing.

Together, Canada’s provincial and territorial labour federations give voice to over three million workers, represented by the Alberta Federation of Labour, British Columbia Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress, Manitoba Federation of Labour, New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Northern Territories Federation of Labour, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Ontario Federation of Labour, Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleises du Québec, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Yukon Federation of Labour.

Unions affiliated with the MFL together represent more than 100,000 working Manitobans in the public and private sectors, including: hospitals, schools, manufacturing, government offices, retail stores, construction, energy and natural resources, tourism, agriculture, arts and culture, and many others.


For further information contact: Kevin Rebeck, President, Manitoba Federation of Labour, 204-947-1400.


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