A good start
With last week’s “balanced” provincial budget, came a somewhat surprising announcement about universal pharmacare for those aged 24 and under.
Unlike the senior drug benefit plan already in place, this allows youths access to 4,400 medications with no deductible, co-payments or cash exchange.
This will give better access to much-needed puffers, insulin and many other drugs that will treat both common and acute conditions, as well as drugs for childhood cancers and other diseases.
This is great news for young people in Ontario.
Right now those who have finished post-secondary education and are no longer covered under parental plans get stuck in limbo. Some are unable to afford medications while they are either unemployed, in a contract position or in a position with no benefit plan.
Children will no longer have to rely on what is or is not covered by parental plans. Parents can breathe easy knowing that for the first 24 years of their children’s lives, most medications will be covered. A diagnosis now means there will be treatment.
PC leader Patrick Brown opposes letting wealthy families use the same system. The universal health care system should not discriminate based on how much parents make.
I applaud the endeavour and hope this brings us one step closer to having a universal pharmacare plan for all citizens.
Consider family income
Last week the Ontario government introduced OHIP+, Canada’s first pharmacare plan.
The idea is that it will cover 100 per cent of the cost of 4,400 prescribed drugs for some Ontarians.
But there’s a catch.
The plan only applies to children and youths who are 24 years of age and under. And it applies to every youth, regardless of family circumstance.
So let’s think about this.
What about the child whose parents have full drug coverage through their jobs? They already have a drug plan and yet now the government is asking taxpayers cough up funds too?
The government argues that the plan is truly universal; it doesn’t discriminate or point fingers.
But drug plan coverage isn’t something kids go around talking about at recess. You don’t hear whispers of “my parents have 100% drug coverage, do yours?”
No, they just let mom and dad deal with it.
So, instead of making pharmacare free for all children regardless of circumstance, wouldn’t it make more sense for family income to be taken into account and have it apply to anyone who needs it?
Because for every child receiving double coverage there’s a recent post-secondary graduate who’s off their parent’s drug plan and looking to land their first full-time job, or a recently-unemployed person who desperately needs a certain medication but can no longer afford it.