Pharmacare, flexible annuity options top CLHIA’s wish list for 2019 federal budget

Pharmacare and flexible annuity options top the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s list of recommendations for the upcoming 2019 federal budget.

In its submission, the association stated it’s supportive of the work being done through the federal government’s advisory council on the implementation of pharmacare, introduced in last year’s budget. However, it also said it’s important to note meaningful reductions in prescription drug prices and improved access for Canadians can be achieved within the current system.

“We recommended that the federal government work with life and health insurers to reform prescription drug coverage in Canada to help improve patient access to the medicine they need at affordable prices, while protecting strong workplace health benefits plans and ensuring tax dollars are used wisely,” the association stated, in a release.

Read: The great pharmacare debate: An ‘overly simplistic’ solution or needed system rationalization?

The CLHIA also noted that any reform to the current system shouldn’t negatively affect Canadians who have access to prescription drugs, suggesting a balanced solution whereby access is expanded at affordable prices. “To achieve this, the federal government should focus the use of tax dollars on those who lack any sort of drug coverage today and to work together with insurance providers to negotiate lower drug prices,” it noted.

The association also recommended that the government allow Canadians access to more flexible annuity options within registered pensions, registered retirement savings plans, registered retirement income funds and tax-free savings accounts.

“These options would allow individuals within tax-advantaged savings and retirement plans to lock in guaranteed income streams at opportune times while adding no cost to the tax system, since those savings are already exempt from tax reporting until actually paid out of such plans,” stated the CHLIA. “Tax costs associated with deferring payout are a reasonable tradeoff for enhanced income security.”

Read: The pension industry’s wish list for tax reform

The CLHIA’s recommendations also include:

  • Reducing or eliminating the capital tax on Canadian financial institutions to encourage competitiveness;
  • Encouraging the government to continue its efforts to achieve a successful conclusion to the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations and support removing restrictions on data localization within the agreement; and
  • Continuing to make investments to mitigate the effects of climate change and to continue working with the life and health insurance industry on this issue.