Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


RNAO says economic analysis shows Canada can't afford not to have pharmacare


TORONTO, Sept. 13, 2010 – Registered nurses from across Ontario are throwing their support behind detailed economic analysis in a report that concludes a national pharmacare  program would improve equitable access to essential medicines, improve health outcomes and save Canadians up to $10.7 billion. 

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is endorsing the report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. RNAO says the report; The Economic Case for Universal Pharmacare makes a solid case for implementing a public drug plan because the status quo isn’t serving Canadians and current costs are spiraling out of control.

For example, in 2008, the report says Canada spent over $25 billion on prescription drugs. Costs of drugs have been rising at more than 10 per cent a year since 1985 and now comprise a major portion of overall health expenditures.  The report’s author compares Canada with other OECD countries like Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and Sweden that have a lower rate of growth in prescription drug costs and also have some form of public drug coverage.   The report offers a prescription that would substantially lower drug costs if Ottawa, the provinces and territories joined forces to create a universal plan.

“We know the current drug system isn’t serving Canadians well,” says David McNeil, president of RNAO. “The free market approach has resulted in runaway drug costs that threaten the sustainability of Medicare.” Some people say Canada can’t afford the cost of pharmacare. But McNeil says the report shows convincingly that only a national pharmacare program will, in fact, control the growth in drug costs.

Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s executive director, credits the Ontario government for steps it’s taking to rein in the costs of generic drugs. The changes announced in the spring will reduce expenditures for generic drugs in the province but national coordination is essential. “We need a universal, public plan that ensures everyone has equitable access to the medicines they need, when they need them and regardless if the person is in the hospital or at home,” Grinspun says, adding that “today’s report shows that this will also result in significant savings. It’s a win-win.”

RNAO has advocated strongly for pharmacare and makes the case for a national program in its own report it released in January 2010. “The federal government must take the lead on this issue,” argues Grinspun. “To do otherwise is simply irresponsible when you consider how much Canadians are paying for drugs.” 

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
For more information about RNAO, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at

To arrange an interview with Mr. McNeil, Dr. Grinspun or with another nurse, please contact:
Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
158 Pearl Street
Toronto, ON
416-408-5605 (office)
647-406-5605 (cellular)