Welcome back Pigeon for Part 2 of my journey into Pharmacare. If you haven’t already, you can read Part 1 here.

A little more background on this. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) which is made up of different unions from across Canada, has been on the forefront of the Pharmacare plan. I had a chance to speak with  President Hassan Yussuff about their journey on this very topic. Hassan has been the president of the CLC since 2017, where he has had the opportunity to meet and give advice about workers and society in Canada, to people like the Prime Minister .

Just a quick side note to remember, unions are not just about their members, they have a huge role in social justice issues like equality, wages, poverty, pride and so forth.

There is a strong belief by the CLC and many others, that pharmacare needs to be in the next federal budget, and there are several reasons for this. First and foremost, is the cost savings that Canadians will experience. It is estimated that Canada will save over 4 Billion dollars per year using a pharmacare system. According to the CLC, Canada pays the fourth highest drug cost in the world, and there is an opportunity to change all this.

Some things that Hassan pointed out, were just the amount of savings around people and sick time. “People having access to their medications, that can be preventive to deteriorating someone’s health, helps reduce sick time at work. Medications, help prevent people from ending up in hospitals using bigger resources.

For example, someone who is diabetic, can be treated through medication. If they do not get treatment by medications, they will progress into stage two or three, which can be costly to the healthcare system. We have fought for this for over three years because it is the right thing to do for all.” The CLC petition can be found here.

I did ask how we pay for pharmacare at an event the CLC held a few years ago, which the presenter responded with, “We already are paying for it. The difference is you or I do not see a direct benefit from it. The big corporations and insurance companies see the benefits. If we do a national pharmacare plan, it is a matter of moving money into a new system that we all benefit from. It will save you money too, as if you work and have benefits, most likely you contribute to the benefits. If you use Trillium Drug Plan, you are probably paying a deductible. If we do a national pharmacare plan, you no longer pay these things, and the government will negotiate with the drug companies to reduce the cost and save money for the taxpayer.”

Big corporate drug companies make billions in profits and receive subsidies from many countries. But at what cost to you or me? In my case, my one pill costs 18K per year for me to buy, but the cost of the actual pill is less then six dollars to make. I believe that companies need a profit, but why do they need billions when they give nothing, or extraordinarily little back. Many do not contribute to our taxes. In the case of pharmacare, they will still make millions in profits just no longer billions. How many jets or boats does someone really need to own at the end of the day?

Pigeons, for me, our system does not make sense. If we have provinces wanting to save money and reduce the use of healthcare, why would we not support ensuring people get the medication they need, to prevent exactly that? Maybe that is what we should be asking our provincial leaders. Why not ask Doug Ford right now?

As the federal budget is fast approaching and you agree with pharmacare, then let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau know to put it in this budget today.

Tune in next week for Part 3.

Stay Safe Pigeon!

About the Author

Geri Atrick is co-host of Str8 Talk, a show that focuses on marginalized & 2SLGBTQ+. Geri also organizes national events around music and the arts, is deeply passionate and active in politics, and is an advocate on many social justice issues. Giver her a little wine and you will never know what she will say. Check out the show at www.str8talk.ca