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Near universal support for a pharmacare plan covering Canadians’ prescription drug costs

The COVID-19 pandemic has put Canada’s health care system under a microscope – revealing millions of people in this country are struggling to access the prescription medicines they need.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds the situation unimproved from 2015, when a landmark ARI study found one-quarter of Canadian households struggling to keep up with prescription drug costs.

The study was conducted in partnership with the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health; St. Michael’s Hospital and University of Toronto; the Carleton University Faculty of Public Affairs and School of Public Policy and Administration; and Women’s College Hospital, Toronto.

In 2020, during a pandemic that threatens their economic livelihood and health, the same is true. Over the past year, one-quarter (23%) have decided not to fill a prescription or not to renew one due to cost or taken measures to extend it because they could not afford to keep the recommended dosage schedule.

Against this backdrop, overwhelming support emerges for a national pharmacare program. Nearly nine-in-ten Canadians support the idea (86%), while more than seven-in-ten (77%) say increasing coverage for Canadians should be a high priority for government.

More Key Findings:

  • One-quarter (26%) of Canadians say they have had to pay for half or more of their prescription drug costs over the past year. This rises to 37 per cent for households that earn less than $50,000 per year.
  • Canadians are twice as likely to have lost prescription drug coverage (14%) as to have gained it (7%) over the past year.
  • More than two-in-five Canadians (44%) are concerned about their ability to afford prescription drugs in 10 years. Just one-quarter (24%) feel very confident that they will always be able to pay for their needs.

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