A survey by the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) reports that 88% of Canadians support a national pharmacare program that provides equal access to prescription drugs and that 51% strongly support such a program.

The results stem from an online poll of 1,500 adult Canadians conducted  August 8-16, 2019. The survey has a margin of error of 2.6% points.

The survey also noted that 93% of respondents felt that it’s important for everyone in Canada to have equal access to prescription drugs.

The poll also found that approximately one-quarter of Canadians have made adjustments in their prescription medication purchases due to its high cost (i.e., not renewing prescriptions or using less than prescribed), Similarly, about one in four adults have hesitated about quitting or changing jobs to avoid losing prescription drug coverage.

In a news release,  Yves Savoie, CEO, Heart & Stroke said, “It is vital that every person – regardless of income, age or where they live in Canada – is able to take the medications they need. A national universal program will go a long way in making that happen and not just fill the gaps that the current system has created.”

“Our polling indicates that almost 90% of Canadians support a universal national pharmacare program, confirming what nurses know from our experience – pharmacare is a burning issue for a great many people in Canada,” says Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “We believe this support from Canadians should be taken into account during the federal election discussion on pharmacare.”

Highlights from the poll:

  • 93% of Canadians feel it’s important that everyone in Canada has equal access to prescription drugs.
  • 88% of Canadians agree that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure there is prescription drug coverage for all people living in Canada.
  • 88% of Canadians support a national pharmacare program that provides equal access to prescription drugs – regardless of income – with over one in two (51%) saying they strongly support such a program.
  • Over the past 12 months, nearly one in four Canadians (24%) decided not to fill or renew a prescription, or did something to make a prescription last longer due to its cost
  • One in four Canadians (25%) has an individual in their household who has hesitated about quitting or changing jobs to prevent losing prescription drug coverage.
  • 35% of Canadians have experienced household budgetary stress due to the cost of prescription drugs.
  • One in five Canadians (21%) with drug coverage report that they pay part of the cost of a prescription out of pocket and that those costs are difficult to afford.

In June of this year, Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, recommended a Canada should implement a universal, single-payer, public pharmacare program. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated the government will commit $6 billion towards that program (if Liberals win in October). New Democrats are also in favour of a national pharmacare plan.  In contrast, the Conservative party is dismissive of the national pharmacare plan but has stated they would focus on Canadians not covered provincially or at work.