SAINT ANDREWS, NB, July 20, 2018 – Premiers discussed ways to improve health care for Canadians. Their discussions focused on pharmacare, addictions and mental health, healthy aging and collaborating on health care procurement. Premiers reiterated their concerns over the declining federal share of overall health funding. The health needs of Canadians are not well served when provincial and territorial governments do not receive fair and sustainable funding from the federal government. Premiers unanimously call for the federal government to restore health care funding to sustainable levels.

Provinces and territories have made great progress in improving the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs, including through cooperative initiatives such as the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA), which is resulting in over $1.98 billion in annual savings for public drug plans. Premiers discussed the need for continued efforts to ensure Canadians have access to the medications that keep them healthy.

Premiers discussed national pharmacare and its potential benefits and challenges, emphasizing that a successful program requires adequate and sustained federal funding. Premiers stressed that participation by Provinces and Territories must be voluntary.

Discussions with the federal government on pharmacare will be governed by the following principles:

  • Improving access through removing cost barriers for patients should be the focus;
  • Development should be based on the best available evidence about potential benefits, risks, costs, and reliability of supply;
  • Provinces and territories must retain responsibility for the design and delivery of public drug coverage; and
  • Federal pharmacare funding must be long-term, adequate, secure, flexible and take into consideration present and future cost pressures.

Premiers reiterated their support for the principle of asymmetrical federalism and that any jurisdiction that wishes to maintain full control over drug insurance should have the right to opt out unconditionally, with full financial compensation, should the federal government participate financially in the establishment of a pharmacare plan. Québec has already indicated its intention to follow that path and all Provinces and Territories reserve the right to do the same.

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