At the beginning of March, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) along with Chambers of Commerce across the province, released Principles for an Effective Pharmacare Program, a policy report that provides guidelines for the federal and Ontario governments to follow when considering reforms to pharmaceutical coverage, which has implications for both governments. The report highlights five principles against which new pharmacare proposals can be tested to ensure an effective and sustainable program.
In its budget this week, the federal government announced it will begin consultations on a pharmacare program with former Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, leading the initiative. With increasing demand for national pharmacare in Canada, the OCC has engaged in its own consultations over the last few months with a diverse group of health, life sciences and insurance stakeholders to develop and endorse the test of principles.
“The Ontario Chamber Network supports improving access to medicine for all Ontarians,” said Jamie Law of the Carleton Place & District Chamber of Commere . “It is essential that the design of a future pharmacare program is developed in a collaborative manner, reflecting these principles to ensure the long-term sustainability of the program.”
The OCC developed the following five principals that pharmaceutical program proposals can be evaluated against:
• Existing gaps in pharmaceutical coverage are identified and addressed to improve access to medications for those who need it
• The strengths of the public-private system are leveraged
• The program is outcomes-oriented and promotes the sustainability and efficacy of the broader health care system
• Patients are able to access their medications in a timely manner
• Broad and appropriate access to innovative medications is ensured

“The Ontario and federal governments must work with all health stakeholders, including patients, health care professionals, private insurers, employers, and the pharmaceutical industry, to identify outstanding coverage gaps and implement effective and pragmatic solutions,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to working with the federal and provincial governments to ensure a future pharmacare model takes advantage of Ontario’s current health care system and embraces public-private partnership.”
The Ontario Chamber Network has been active on health care policy for a number of years, including multiple reports on life sciences as an economic driver. Pharmacare has emerged as a key public policy issue in Ontario given the recent provincial government announcement of OHIP+, which provides pharmaceutical coverage to all Ontarians under the age of 25, and a commitment by the Ontario NDP to create a universal pharmacare program if they form government after the next provincial election.
Read the full report here.