The Weekly Roundup: Pharmacare Discussions and Canadian Life Expectancy

Published on
December 4, 2023
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
6 min

In this week’s edition of our weekly roundup, we're diving into the ongoing discussions surrounding pharmacare and shedding light on the concerning changes in Canadian life expectancy. In Delphic Research, we stay true to our commitment to provide our clients with the latest policy and industry insights that can be beneficial to them.  

The Liberals announced they won't be able to meet the deadline for passing pharmacare legislation by the end of the year. This delay has sparked speculation about potential repercussions in their governing agreement with the New Democratic Party (NDP).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed concerns about the possibility of passing the pharmacare bill by year-end, assuring a commitment to finding responsible ways to move forward. He mentioned readiness to proceed with the legislation and emphasized the ongoing collaboration with the NDP to develop an ambitious plan, considering the current economic situation.

Trudeau highlighted the importance of reducing medication costs for Canadians, although doubts have surfaced about the affordability of implementing a national pharmacare plan within the government's revised fiscal strategy.

Meanwhile, the ongoing discussions between the Liberals and NDP regarding pharmacare negotiations have been described positively by Mélanie Richer, a former NDP staffer, signalling a mutual "goodwill" and productive talks that could extend beyond the year-end deadline.

Richer emphasized the NDP's commitment to their vision for pharmacare, prioritizing the plan's essence over a fixed agreement date. However, Government House Leader Karina Gould and Health Minister Mark Holland acknowledged the unlikelihood of passing pharmacare legislation by year-end, with Holland hinting at a potential bill introduction before Parliament's adjournment.

Both Richer and former Liberal staffer Muhammed Ali highlighted political pressures faced by both parties. The Liberals aim to retain NDP support for their policy priorities, while the NDP seeks influence in the current government context, especially considering conservative-leaning polls.

Regarding pharmacare preferences, a late September Pollara survey suggested a preference for a "fill-in-the-gaps" approach, indicating satisfaction with existing coverage but support for a new national prescription drug coverage program targeting those currently without coverage. However, Joel Lexchin of Canadian Doctors for Medicare questioned if the survey captured comprehensive sentiments, proposing crucial questions to explore Canadians' perspectives on pharmacare's impact on out-of-pocket payments, drug expenditure, and usage.

The dialogue about pharmacare has been a really big topic especially since recent findings from Statistics Canada have raised alarm as the average life expectancy for Canadians at birth has declined steadily for three consecutive years, dropping from 82.3 years in 2019 to 81.3 in 2022.

The report highlighted that cancer and heart disease persist as the primary causes of death, accounting for 41.8% of all fatalities in 2022. Moreover, COVID-19 was a significant contributor to mortality, leading to over 19,700 deaths last year, marking the highest toll since the pandemic began in 2020.

Notably, there are differences in life expectancy, with New Brunswick experiencing a decline to 79.8 years in 2022, while Saskatchewan witnessed the most substantial drop over three years, decreasing by two years to 78.5 in the same period. Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, stressed the unprecedented nature of the situation, signaling a decline in the overall health of the population.

In other news, Quebec has allocated $4.5 million towards mental health research initiatives to tackle pressing challenges in the province. This investment will support four innovative research projects and the establishment of the Alliance en santé mentale et neurosciences. This alliance brings together three university mental health institutes: the Douglas Research Centre, CERVO, and the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, aiming to drive innovation and collaboration between research and healthcare communities in mental health and neuroscience. The Alliance has received $2.2 million in funding.

In this fast-paced world, it is important to stay on top of trends and have informed decisions for your business.  

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