Weekly Top Stories: Budget 2024 and Healthcare Concerns

Published on
April 22, 2024
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
7 min

We have a lot to tackle in this edition. The healthcare community was highly active and engaged in the run-up to and after the unveiling of Budget 2024. Aside from that, George Smitherman, former Ontario Minister of Health, criticized the proposed national pharmacare plan, highlighting the intricacies of an ineffective public policy.

Here are some of the points you might have missed last week.

The new pharmacare plan intends to provide access to contraceptives for nine million women by addressing the obstacle of cost. It is anticipated to improve reproductive health and decrease unplanned pregnancies. The proposal focuses on addressing the affordability of essential medications like insulin and metformin for individuals with diabetes, as one in four Canadians with diabetes has had challenges due to the cost.

The goal of this project is to enhance the well-being of about 3.7 million Canadians and decrease the occurrence of serious problems. The budget also allocates funding for diabetes-related devices and supplies, subject to discussions with provincial and territorial partners.

In total, $1.5 billion is allocated over five years to initiate the National Pharmacare Plan from fiscal year 2024–25, aiming to provide broader access to necessary medical treatments and improve public health.

In terms of dental care, the Canadian Dental Care Plan, as detailed in the budget, has granted approval to more than 1.7 million Canadians since its launch in mid-December.

The plan will gradually extend eligibility to seniors over 87 throughout 2024. Seniors aged 65 and over will be eligible by May, followed by persons with disabilities who have a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and children under 18 in June. Starting in 2025, uninsured Canadian individuals aged 18 to 64 with a family income of up to $90,000 are eligible to apply.

Meanwhile, on the subject of addiction and mental health. The budget will allocate $500million over five years, starting in 2024-25, to create a dedicated fund that will improve mental healthcare access for young Canadians.

An Emergency Treatment Fund for the opioid crisis will receive $150 million over three years. This effort demonstrates a strong dedication to tackling the mental health issues encountered by young people, demonstrating a proactive approach to safeguarding their welfare and providing the necessary resources.  

In addition to that, various budget allocations will be allotted to prioritize Indigenous peoples, such as the funding for child welfare services amounting to $29 billion, which will be used to implement the An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

In the wake of the budget announcement, the healthcare sector's stakeholders have come up with mixed reactions. Innovative Medicines Canada expressed its concerns that the new pharmacare model could potentially reduce access to new medicines and drive the pharmaceutical sector away. They are also disappointed with the slow progress on a national strategy for drugs for rare diseases.

On a more positive note, significant funding increases for research, scholarships, and mental health were well-received by Universities Canada, highlighting the support for students and research as crucial for the nation's economic and educational future. The Canadian Dental Association welcomed the expansion of the Canadian Dental Care Plan but expressed concerns about the need for improvements to ensure better access to dental care.

In other news, in a recent op-ed for the Toronto Star, George Smitherman, former Ontario Minister of Health, argued against the newly proposed national pharmacare plan, suggesting it to be an impractical public policy. While acknowledging the Trudeau government's efforts alongside the NDP to establish a national framework covering only diabetes and contraception drugs, Smitherman highlighted the potential risks and inefficiencies.

He criticized the plan for potentially undermining confidence in the existing healthcare system and increasing administrative burdens without adequately addressing coverage gaps for all patient groups. As a proponent of refining existing systems rather than overhauling them, Smitherman emphasized targeting resources toward Canadians facing affordability barriers, advocating for pragmatic fiscal management over ambitious, wide-sweeping healthcare reforms.

Do you want a more comprehensive version of this rundown?  Book a free consultation today!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Thanks for joining our newsletter
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.