The United Steelworkers union is calling out the federal Liberals for breaking their promise to move forward with pharmacare by refusing to support the NDP’s pharmacare bill.
"When the chance came for action on a policy that would save people’s lives, the Liberals failed. They teamed up with the Conservatives and voted ‘No’," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
"Why did they vote against it? Was it because they don’t really plan to keep their promises? Was it because it was an NDP bill and they can’t stand to work with other parties for the benefit of Canadians?" said Neumann.
For over two decades, the Liberals have promised to bring in pharmacare. Prior to the 2019 election, the Liberal government appointed an advisory council chaired by former Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins to review pharmacare. The former Liberal minister’s council recommended a universal, single-payer public pharmacare system in its 2019 report. The NDP’s Bill C-213 reflected those recommendations.
The USW has long supported a pharmacare plan that is universal, public, accessible, comprehensive and portable. The NDP’s Bill C-213, brought forth by MP Peter Julian (New Westminster–Burnaby), would have brought in pharmacare for Canadians modelled on the Canada Health Act that would improve the health and lives of millions of Canadians.
As studies have shown, pharmacare will save lives. Hundreds of Canadians die from preventable causes because they lack drug coverage or can’t afford their medication. Almost a million Canadians spend less on necessities like food or heat in order to pay for prescriptions.
Pharmacare would bring more fairness and better health outcomes to those with lower incomes who have more difficulty accessing the drugs they need including women, racialized people, Indigenous people and young people.
"Union members tend to have better health care and drug benefits than workers who do not belong to a union that negotiates on their behalf," said Neumann. "But all workers – and all Canadians – deserve public drug coverage to ensure that people can access the medication they need."
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many workers have lost their jobs or benefits coverage. Pharmacare would mean all Canadians could get the medication they need to stay healthy without having to pay out of pocket or worry about not being able to afford the cost.
"The USW thanks Peter Julian and the NDP for their work on pharmacare," said Neumann. "We will keep fighting for pharmacare to save lives and improve the health of all Canadians."
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Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org