After having a chance to digest the parliamentary budget officer’s report projecting that a universal pharmacare program could represent $4.2 billion in savings for Canada, some believe it’s time to end the debate and take action.

Elizabeth Kwan, a senior researcher at the Canadian Labour Congress, certainly believes so. “We need an all-out, all-Canadian effort to put this plan together, and to make it work.”

Alongside the report published last week, other research into the potential cost of a universal pharmacare plan has yielded results suggesting major savings for Canadians, she says. “Stop looking for more evidence,” she adds.

Read: Universal pharmacare program could save $4.2B: report

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published its own report last week that suggested the savings associated with consolidating pharmacare on a national level would represent more than $30 billion in public and private spending. It notes the savings would come from the elimination of the separate provincial programs currently in place, as well as increasing overall efficiency by having one overarching program.

However, the parliamentary budget officer’s estimate didn’t include another $3.9 billion spent nationwide last year on drugs not covered under the Quebec plan. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association has stressed the need to address that gap as it would lead to “leaving hundreds of thousands of Canadians to find alternative funding for drugs they are currently using.”

Read: The impact of Ontario’s public drug program changes on private plans

What do you think is the best way forward for pharmacare in Canada? Should Canada move on a national pharmacare program or would it be better to allow private payers access to savings through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance? Or do government and private payers already have the drug plan design tools they need to control costs? Have your say in our weekly poll.

Last week’s poll asked whether readers agreed with the New Democratic Party’s plan to introduce a bill to prioritize pensions in bankruptcy situations. The majority (86 per cent) agreed with idea, saying there have been too many situations where pensioners have come up short. Just 14 per cent said such a change would complicate restructuring efforts and make it too difficult for companies to get financing while they reorganize.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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