The Issue

In Federal Budget 2018, the Government of Canada established an Advisory Council to provide independent advice on how to best implement National Pharmacare. While the intent of National Pharmacare is admirable – ensuring that all Canadians have adequate access to prescription drugs based on need – the single payer model being proposed would:

  • Crowd out more dynamic private and group insurers;
  • Amplify existing drug shortages;
  • Reduce pharmaceutical innovation in Canada;
  • Shift the cost burden from private/group insurers onto taxpayers;
  • Lead to reduced prescription drug coverage for many Canadians;
  • Require significant tax increases that would offset the purported gains of adopting single-payer

Our Position

Over the next year, the SCC welcome the opportunity to share its views with the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. The SCC recommends an approach to national pharmacare that leverages the benefits of the existing public-private payer model, combined with a “fill in the gaps” approach for Canadians who are underinsured/uninsured or those who need assistance paying for high cost drugs for rare diseases. The SCC believes a more pragmatic, targeted, and financially sustainable approach is best. According to a 2018 Abacus Data poll of 300 Canadians, 87% responded they are generally satisfied with their existing benefits plan – so why use scarce public healthcare dollars to essentially duplicate what most Canadians are already satisfied with?


Instead of implementing an overly expensive and largely redundant public single-payer model, the SCC recommends the Federal Government implement the “fill in the gaps” public-private approach being advocated by the SCC, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and other key stakeholders. A plan that provides coverage to those not currently covered or for those who have unique and exceptional needs we believe is a more prudent approach.

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