Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
Canadians spent $34 billion on prescription medicines in 2018. Drugs are the second biggest expenditure in health care, after hospitals. We spend even more on drugs than on doctors. On a per capita basis, only the United States and Switzerland pay more for prescription drugs. Yet for all that spending, there are huge gaps in coverage. One in five Canadians struggle to pay for their prescription medicines. Three million don’t fill their prescriptions because they can’t afford to.
This is unacceptable.
Medicines are a critical part of health care. They allow millions of Canadians to prevent and fight disease, manage chronic illness, ease pain and breathe better.
When Canada created universal health care 53 years ago, we changed this country in a way unimaginable at the time. It is our proudest legacy. Yet the debate at that time over medicare was eerily similar to today’s debate over pharmacare—can we afford it? Is it what’s best for Canada? How will we know that we got it right? Do we have the courage to build it?