Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


RNAO gives Minister Hoskins the thumbs up for taking the lead on pharmacare talks


TORONTO, June 8, 2015 – Ontario's registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students are thrilled that Health Minister Eric Hoskins is taking charge of spiraling drug costs by moving ahead with roundtable discussions about pharmacare.

More than a dozen academics and experts from across Canada are meeting in Toronto today for preliminary discussions on the potential logistics of such a plan and to share information among jurisdictions.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), which has long called for a national pharmacare program says the action taken today by Minister Hoskins is laudable, especially given the absence of federal leadership. "The health minister deserves a lot of credit and respect for taking the lead on this critical issue," says RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun adding that anyone who truly values universal access to health services must tackle universal access to medications.

As RNAO sees it, the Canada Health Act is a valuable tool to deliver health care to all Canadians in an equitable way. However, one key omission is pharmacare. The lack of such a plan says Grinspun "results in uneven access across the country to essential medications and misses a golden opportunity to make the system more patient-centred, more effective, and more cost efficient."

"We know the current drug system isn't serving Canadians well," says RNAO President Vanessa Burkoski. "The free market approach has resulted in runaway drug costs and leaves some people with drug coverage and others without." Burkoski cites a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which concluded Canadians could save 7.3 billion with the introduction of a fully funded pharmacare plan.

A national, publicly funded and controlled pharmacare program covering all essential prescription drugs has been a key demand of RNAO for many years. The association is willing to work with the health minister and other stakeholders to make pharmacare become a reality.

This year marks the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) 90th anniversary. RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students 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 or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
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