Universal pharmacare was this year’s Labour Day theme for the Canadian Labour Congress.
Nan McFadgen, one of the Yarmouth event’s speakers, said universal pharmacare would be a “progressive and positive change” from Canada’s current patchwork system.
“Universal pharmacare would leave no Canadian behind, and, almost as importantly, would significantly reduce costs to governments, to employers and to workers,” she said.
McFadgen is CUPE Nova Scotia president and vice-president at large of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.
She spoke in Frost Park during the annual Labour Day event organized by the South West Labour Group.
On Sept. 27, McFadgen said, CUPE will make a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, which has been looking into the development of a pharmacare program.
Jim Laverie, another of the speakers for Monday’s event in Frost Park, cited a number of statistics.
“Twenty-six per cent of Atlantic Canadians say they or someone in their household hadn’t taken medication as prescribed because they couldn’t afford to,” he said.
About 3.5 million Canadians can’t afford to fill their prescriptions, he said, and about 8.4 million working Canadians don’t have prescription drug coverage. Those that do have coverage, he said, are paying more out of pocket due to rising co-payments and deductibles.
“A national pharmacare plan is badly needed and long overdue,” he said.
“Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health-care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan.”
The average person isn’t benefitting from the current system, he said, but pharmaceutical and private insurance companies are.
McFadgen said CUPE’s presentation to the House of Commons health committee will make the case that a public system would be better than private insurance plans.
“Public solutions can work better and save money,” she said.
The Labour Day event in Yarmouth’s Frost Park again included musical entertainment, children’s games and a hotdog lunch.