The Canadian Life & Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) says the passage of Bill C-64, the Pharmacare Act, as it is currently written, puts workplace benefits plans at risk of being disrupted.

“Late last month, the Minister of Health told MPs on the health committee that those who have an existing drug plan are going to continue to have access to those plans and the coverage they provide,” Stephen Frank, president and CEO of the CLHIA said in a statement one day after the bill was sent to the Senate, following third reading in the House of Commons.

“If that’s the minister’s intent, it is not at all clear from Bill C-64. Its text repeatedly calls for single-payer pharmacare in Canada, with no mention of workplace benefits plans. While not defined in the bill, single-payer is understood to mean one payer – in this case, the federal government.” 

The government’s own announcements about the Pharmacare Act have said the measure is the first phase of universal pharmacare in Canada. It intends to work with provinces to provide universal, single-payer coverage for some contraceptives and diabetes medications. “The Pharmacare Act is a concrete step towards the vision of a national pharmacare program,” Health Canada said in a statement May 24. “The Government of Canada will consult widely about the path forward.” 

The industry’s concerns, however, would appear to remain unaddressed. (The CLHIA has made these concerns known to stakeholders on a number of occasions.) The Canadian Press reports that the bill is the result of lengthy negotiations between the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) as part of the two parties’ pact to prevent an early election. 

Risks disrupting workplace drug coverage 

“The bill risks disrupting workplace drug coverage for 27 million Canadians. It risks limiting choice in the specific medications people have access to. And it risks using scarce federal fiscal resources to replace existing coverage,” Frank adds in his statement. “We, and other witnesses urged the House of Commons health committee to amend the bill to reflect the minister’s view that that workplace benefits are not at risk. That the committee did not do this is a missed opportunity and concerning to working people and their families who count on their existing workplace benefits. It is imperative that the bill be amended to reflect the minister’s own statements to ensure existing drug coverage provided by workplace plans is not unintentionally disrupted.”  


Pharmacare legislation lacks transparency and risks Canadians’ coverage says association 

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