Premiers Highlight Key Justice and Social Issues

Premiers will receive a report from the Working Group in November. They are concerned the federal timeline may be unrealistic, given the issues listed above. If these outstanding issues are not properly addressed by the federal government, provinces and territories will require an extension of the implementation date.

The opioid overdose epidemic in Canada has led to tragic loss of life and has had a devastating impact on families and communities across the country. Approximately 2,500 Canadians died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016, which is seven people each day. Premiers discussed the work that provinces and territories are undertaking in their own jurisdictions and stressed the importance of intergovernmental cooperation to mitigate this urgent and evolving issue on an emergent basis.

To combat this crisis, provinces and territories are strongly committed to using a harm reduction approach to mitigate this crisis and will continue to deploy a range of evidence-based tools to prevent further tragic deaths, as well as sharing best practices. Additional work must be done in cooperation with health professionals to adapt prescribing practices.

Premiers are pleased with the Government of Canada’s work to approve new supervised consumption sites and encourage the federal government to consider further proposals. Premiers also called on the federal government to undertake further concrete actions to improve public safety in Canada:

  • Provide greater support for enhanced RCMP/Canada Border Services Agency partnership funding;
  • Reinstate federal RCMP resources to intercept opioids such as fentanyl and reduce importation and trafficking of opioids.
  • Increase funding for equipment and training for the RCMP Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team and support greater networking of provincial toxicological and poison control services.
  • Federal officials should work directly with U.S. public health officials to identify best practices, risks and areas of cooperation in combatting this crisis.

Pharmaceutical Drug Coverage
For a number of years, provinces and territories have been pioneering work to improve the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs. This includes the work of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) on brand name drugs, generic drugs, and special categories of drugs that bring forward particularly complex and difficult challenges. As of March 31, 2017, the pCPA’s efforts have led to a $1.28 billion a year in estimated combined jurisdictional savings.

Premiers noted that discrepancies persist between the prices of prescription drugs sold in Canada and those available in certain other countries. Premiers intend to continue to work collaboratively in order to further reduce drug prices.

To build on the success of this intergovernmental collaboration, Premiers also agreed to continue exploring opportunities to improve drug coverage for Canadians, recognizing the different needs and systems in place in each province and territory.

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