As you know, my husband has cancer. He is presently doing well on oral chemotherapy. Whenever we look south to the United States, we are proud of our public health system. Wait a minute! Should we be proud of Ontario’s health care system?
My husband does not pay a cent for his cancer health care and his chemo. Our neighbour around the corner has a son with cancer. That son pays $5,000 a month for his cancer related medications. A woman I used to work with has macular degeneration. The good news, she has the kind that has a cure that will save her eyesight. The bad news, she has to pay $1700 a month for a shot in each eye. Why? They are both under the age of 65. There is no Pharmacare for people between the ages of 24 and 65 in Ontario. Those under 24 can only have Pharmacare if their family does not have private health insurance.
With unemployment increasing due to COVID, more and more people do not have Pharmacare benefits through their work. One of my best friends must now pay out of pocket for her insulin. Unlike countries in Europe, which include prescription drugs as part of their public health care, Canada does not. This leads to B.C. having Pharmacare for all and Ontario not having Pharmacare for all.
We have a minority federal government. In the past, the parties of minority governments have worked together to bring benefits to Canadians. The Liberals and the NDP both promised Pharmacare in the last election. Certainly COVID has taken everyone’s attention but with the many side effects of the virus, surely it is time for Pharmacare across Canada.
I am thrilled that my husband and I are not losing all our retirement savings and maybe our house due to the cost of his oral chemo. What about everyone else? We know the Conservatives would never endorse a Pharmacare program but what’s holding up the Liberals bringing forward a plan and the NDP, Bloc and Greens endorsing it?
Here is a template for the political will for Pharmacare.
- Lester B. Pearson was the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968. His government saw Medicare introduced on a national basis, after his party wrote and introduced the legislation for hospital and out-of-hospital treatment, and received the support of Douglas’ NDP.