Canadians are justly proud of our health care system. Compared to the for-profit, private insurer system south of the border, Canadians have far better health outcomes at far less cost.
But there’s still a lot of work to do. Truly universal health care doesn’t simply start and end in a hospital or clinic. It attends to physical, mental and social well-being.
The opioid epidemic, technology-based models of care and the widening service gap in mental health are all signs that we have allowed the steady degradation of single-payer universal health care. The slashing of hospital beds in the early 1990s and the creeping presence of two-tier health care must be pushed back and the Canada Health Act fully defended.
We need to expand our public services. Canada is the only industrialized nation with universal health care that doesn’t have publicly funded prescription drug coverage, also known as pharmacare. And Canadians pay the second-highest rate among developed countries for pharmaceuticals.
Privatized prescription drug coverage, dental benefits, and addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs have created a two-tier health system where wealth opens the door to a full range of care.
- Expand public health care to include pharmacare, establishing a Crown corporation to bulk purchase and dispense prescription drugs and providing much needed coverage to the one in three Canadians forced to pay for prescription medication.
- Include basic dental care in our national coverage.
- Extend dental care to low income children.
- Fund non-institutionalized, community-based support for substance-abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs.
- Create a national drug reduction strategy and develop more safe injection sites.
- Regulate the distribution of pharmaceuticals prescribed by doctors to track and prevent dangerous levels of over-medication and prevent opioid addiction.
- Develop national health care guidelines that incentivize active lifestyles as well as healthy diets and choices.
- Treat drug addiction as a public health issue, not a felony.