Time to deliver on national pharmacare, RNAO urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Oct. 5, 2023

Ontario nurses say it’s time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government deliver on their promise to create a national pharmacare program.
In an open letter addressed to the prime minister, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says legislation must be introduced this fall and passed before the end of this year.

“We have universal health care in Canada, but we are laggards when it comes to provisions for prescription drugs. Eight million Canadians do not have drug coverage, which forces them to make difficult and unnecessary choices about their health and their family’s health,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway.

RNAO says the absence of universal pharmacare is even more troubling when you consider that drug costs make up an increasing proportion of the country’s health expenditures. “It’s bad enough that we are forcing people to fend for themselves. Even worse is the fact that when you look at it purely from an economic standpoint, you have to ask yourself, why aren’t we doing this,” says Holloway. She notes that information from Health Canada confirms Canadian drug prices are the third highest among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The roadmap to implement a pharmacare plan is laid out in a report authored by Dr. Eric Hoskins, former Ontario health minister and the person Trudeau appointed in 2018 to chair a national advisory council with the goal to create such a program. “The federal government has had years to act on its promise. The clock is running and it’s time to deliver,” says Grinspun. “We know this is the right path for Canadians and for the future of our health system.”

RNAO is mobilizing its members and the public to send their own letters. “This issue strikes at the heart of our health system. Canada is the only country that has universal health care but lacks universal pharmacare. We can and must change this immediately,” adds Grinspun.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (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 system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit or follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Instagram.


Contact info

Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Alicia Saunders
Communications Assistant
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)