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Universal Pharmacare

Thunder Bay votes overwhelmingly in favour of national pharmacare


The City of Thunder Bay showed vast support for a national pharmacare plan at a Council meeting on Monday, April 9. All council members in attendance voted unanimously to pass a resolution in favour of a universal prescription drug plan.

Early in March, presidents from three Unifor Locals, Dominic Pasqualino (Local 1075), Kari Jefford (Local 229), and Jamey Rostobutko (Local 191) were at City Hall, as part of a deputation to the Thunder Bay City Council. This deputation put forward a resolution that was sent to the City’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee for review.

On April 9, the resolution was put to the floor by Councilor Andrew Foulds and received immense support from the City Council. In a show of innovative leadership, Thunder Bay is one of the first cities to pass this resolution. Pasqualino commended the City’s enthusiasm to be a pioneer in the push for national pharmacare, saying “What’s wrong with being leaders?”

Commenting on the success of the pitch to Council, Andy Savela, Director of Health Care at Unifor notes, “Thunder Bay’s welcome support of the resolution in favour of national pharmacare is a big win. We hope that the City Council’s decision will see itself being repeated in communities across Canada, so we can come together in the drive for a universal prescription drug plan.”

Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare created


As part of the 2018-2019 budget, the federal government signaled in February an openness to a possible pharmacare program when it announced the creation of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. However, the scope or focus of the advisory council is still unclear and Finance Minister Bill Morneau has hinted that a potential national pharmacare plan may not be universal, therefore it is urgent that advocates re-double their efforts in winning a universal national pharmacare plan.

Employers sign on to joint letters in support of pharmacare


Port Arthur Health Care in Thunder Bay and Wilson Display Ltd. of Brampton are the first two Unifor employers to sign the joint letter in support of a Canadian universal pharmacare program, as recommended at the 2017 Canadian Council.

“I applaud Port Arthur Health Centre and Wilson Display for taking action now to support a national pharmacare program,” said National President Jerry Dias. “For Canada to succeed in the global economy, a strong social system than includes access to universal pharmacare is essential.”

In November, Dias sent a letter and information package to all local unions and retiree chapters asking for support and participation to promote the campaign among members and in their community.

Also included in the information package was a template municipal resolution for local presidents to present and discuss with their elected officials, asking them to sign on and support the call for universal pharmacare.

Support for pharmacare at Premiers conference


A universal pharmacare plan has even more champions today such as former Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins. Both the Ontario Liberal and Ontario New Democratic Party have proposed significant policy initiatives to support evolving towards a universal pharmacare plan. At the Premiers conference in July 2017, Premiers, including Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, Newfoundland’s Dwight Ball and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister, all joined together to call on the federal government to bring prescription medications under our medicare system.

In fact, as far back as 1964, the Royal Commission on Health Services recommended that a universal drug insurance plan be established for all Canadians. The National Health Forum, under Jean Chrétien in 1997, also recommended universal drug coverage. The Romanow Commission in 2002 recommended catastrophic drug coverage as a first step towards universal pharmacare.