Bioethics Blogs

Four Reasons Canada Needs Universal Pharmacare

Steve Morgan gives us four reasons to support universal pharmacare and then invites us to sign the Parliamentary Petition e-959 (Health care services).


Ontario has just announced that it will offer a publicly funded pharmacare program for children and youth in the province. This is a small step in the right direction, one that is arguably most important for its symbolism in a national debate.

Why just a small step? Because Ontario is adding universal, comprehensive pharmacare coverage to the age group that least uses medicines. Many working-age Ontarians, who are far more likely to require medicines than children, will not be insured.

Why symbolic? Ontario’s new pharmacare program is evidence of at least one government taking responsibility for this component of health care, integrating it with medical and hospital care.

Several national commissions on Canada’s health care system have recommended adding prescription drugs to our publicly funded universal medicare system. To date, however, no federal government has acted on those recommendations.

By creating ‘pharmacare-junior,’ Premier Wynne and Minister Hoskins are, in essence, calling on the federal government to help finish the job by creating a pharmacare program for all Canadians of all ages.

Here are four reasons why Canada needs a universal, public pharmacare program – and what Canadians can do to make it happen.

The most important reason for universal pharmacare in Canada is that access to essential medicines is a human right according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recommends that countries protect that right in law and with pharmaceutical policies that work in conjunction with their broader systems of universal health coverage.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.