Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Pharmacare Files

Dave Penner, CPhA’s new director of advocacy & policy, provides an update on what’s happening with pharmacare, how CPhA has been involved and what we can expect over the summer and into the fall.

This past February, the federal Minister of Health, the Hon. Mark Holland, introduced Bill C-64 in the House of Commons. Bill C-64, An Act respecting pharmacare proposed a universal, single-payer system that would provide Canadians with access to 2 specific drug classes: contraception and diabetes. Recognizing that provinces and territories currently provide access to public drug plans, the Bill seeks to establish a framework through which the federal government can provide funding to the provinces and territories to implement the proposed pharmacare program.

CPhA’s Joelle Walker, VP of Public and Professional Affairs appears before HESA on May 31

CPhA’s Joelle Walker, VP of Public and Professional Affairs appears before HESA on May 31

CPhA was a witness at the House of Commons Health Committee (HESA) in May 2024. While CPhA told the Committee that reducing the burden of diabetes and contraceptive medication is commendable, we stressed that the projected cost of over a billion dollars could be more effectively used to expand coverage for a wider range of medications for those who currently lack adequate coverage. We have been advocating strongly for a mixed-payer system, and we continue to believe that instead of replacing coverage for those already with drug plans, our approach would be more feasible, better align with provincial needs, and minimize disruptions, all while ensuring universal coverage for everyone. We also highlighted the importance of including pharmacy in the proposed legislation.

On an encouraging note, it was great to see pharmacists mentioned by parliamentarians at the Committee. Two Members of Parliament (MP Robert Kitchen, and MP Majid Jowhari) started their statements by thanking their own pharmacists. MP Jowhari stated, "I want to also thank you (CPhA) for advocating for pharmacists. One of my very good friends, my mentor, and the one whom I trust with all of my medication, is Akil Dhirani, who's running many practices. I often go to him for advice on many things, especially around pharmacare."

Bill C-64 is currently making its way through the Senate, which has now risen for the summer recess. On June 18, 2024, the bill passed second reading and was referred to the committee. When the Senate resumes sitting on September 16, 2024, the Bill will be at the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee (SOCI).

CPhA met with Bill C-64’s sponsor Senator Kim Pate (Ontario) on June 17

CPhA met with Bill C-64’s sponsor Senator Kim Pate (Ontario) on June 17.

Over the summer, CPhA will continue with our advocacy efforts, meeting with Senators and other government officials where we'll specifically focus on 3 things:

  1. Broadening the definition of pharmacare to reflect the critical role of pharmacy services in any pharmacare legislation.
  2. Pushing for language that recognizes the role of private insurance.
  3. Ensuring that the front-line pharmacist perspective is well understood and that pharmacists are included in the expert committee, which is to be appointed 30 days after Bill C-64 receives royal assent.

As you’re hopefully aware, CPhA has actively positioned itself as a leading voice for increased access to drug therapies and the care that pharmacists provide to patients to make sure that the right medication is getting to the right patient at the right time. We encourage you to visit our pharmacare webpage for background information on the history of CPhA’s advocacy on this file, and stay tuned for updates in the coming months.