NDP MP Don Davies gives a presentation on his push for national pharmacare to a packed room at the Qualicum Beach legion hall on Saturday, May 12. — Adam Kveton Photo

Qualicum Beach hears NDP pharmacare push

MP Don Davies hopes to make fed funded universal pharmacare an election issue

The federal NDP is pointing to a Parliamentary Budget Officer report showing that a single-payer, universal pharmacare plan could cover every Canadian while saving approximately $4 billion.

Don Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver-Kingsway, brought that message to Qualicum Beach for the second stop on his national pharmacare tour in an attempt to make the subject an election issue in the 2019 federal election.

More than 60 people attended the event, hosted by Coutenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns at the legion hall in Qualicum Beach on Saturday, May 12.

Davies said he’s been building the case for pharmacare for the last two years, including successfully lobbying the Standing Committee on Health to study universal, single-payer pharmacare, which resulted in the committee supporting the idea.

“Canadians can save money and have better health outcomes with a national pharmacare program,” said Bill Casey, chair of the committee and Liberal MP for Cumberland-Colchester, in an April 18 news release.

Davies highlighted a study on the potential costs of universal pharmacare undertaken by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), which showed that $4.2 billion could be saved.

“He did a very rigorous analysis of the cost and benefits of pharmacare and came back with a not unsurprising result for us, but quite a shocking one for the Liberals and Conservatives,” said Davies. “We can cover every single Canadian in this country and save billions of dollars every year using extremely conservative assumptions.”

The report used 2015-16 numbers, including the cost to governments, the cost for private insurance, and the cost for patients out-of-pocket.

The report showed that approximately $28.5 billion was spent on prescription drugs in that time period, with $13.1 billion from the government (mostly the provinces), $10.7 billion covered by private insurance and $4.7 billion by individuals.

About $24.6 billion of that cost would be eligible for pharmacare funding (based on the study’s use of Quebec’s drug plan formulary, as Quebec’s drug program covers everyone in that province). That breakdown is $11.9 billion by governments, $9 billion from private insurance and $3.6 billion from patients.

The PBO estimated the total $24.6 billion could be brought down to $20.4 billion through savings due to the proposed single-payer, universal pharmacare program.

To check out the PBO’s study, click here.

Davies said savings comes from things such as bulk purchasing of drugs on a national level, efficiencies under a single-payer system, generic substitution, evidenced-based controls of the formulary (list of drugs covered) and exclusive licensing agreements.

The PBO report included a $5-fee for those who want a brand-name drug. Davies suggested that the breakdown of the $20.4 billion would be $12 billion paid for by the government, and $8.4 billion from companies (which he said would mean an overall savings as $9 billion is currently paid for private insurance plans).

“It’s a tax that would save them (businesses) money, but nevertheless, it’s a tax,” said Davies.

Questions from the crowd at the legion ranged beyond universal pharmacare, with people asking what can be done to keep U.S. companies from buying Canadian pharmaceutical companies, the need for more family doctors and drugs being prescribed when they’re not needed.

Others were concerned whether the projected savings would in fact go to the public, or if there would be user fees or a cost download to employees by employers.

Questions were also raised over medical assistive devices and drugs that are not covered by plans now, and how the decisions to cover them or not would be made.

Davies admitted that not all drugs can be covered, but said that he’s pushing for public pharmacare that would keep politics out of formulary decisions and be evidence-based.

Send story tips to: adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach mayor plans to run for re-election

Teunis Westbroek hopes to continue serving needs of Town’s residents as mayor

25th year for TOSH’s Grand Prix d’Art in Qualicum Beach

Dozens of artists to take part in painting competition July 28

Royals finish second at 18U provincials

The Save-on-Foods Parksville Royals missed a golden opportunity to earn a ticket… Continue reading

Artists explore light at MAC in Parksville

OCAC members’ exhibit showing July 21-Sept. 1

Tenders sought for Little Qualicum River bridge project

The Regional District of Nanaimo is looking for an engineering firm to… Continue reading

Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 at the BC Games

All 18 events kick off on the track, riding ring, fields, courts and lake in the Cowichan Valley

VIDEO: How to throw a frisbee

Ultimate frisbee player Amy Mackay shows off the proper technique

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

Seal attacks kayakers in the Broughton Archipelago

“It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.”

Victoria-area park sign removed after glitch redirects to porn site

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Special Olympic athletes take on BC Games during special anniversary

Known as the Global Day of Inclusion, July 20 marks the first Special Olympics in 1968 in Chicago

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Fundraiser to help mom of jogger detained after crossing U.S. border

Cedella Roman, 19, was held in U.S. after accidentally crossing border in South Surrey

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Most Read