New Poll Reveals Overwhelming Support For Pharmacare

According to a new poll conducted by Environics Research for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), 93 percent of Canadians feel that it’s important for everyone in Canada to have equal access to prescription drugs. A majority (88%) also believe that it’s the responsibility of the federal government to ensure it happens.

The poll shows that the high cost of prescription drugs causes many to risk their health by not taking their medications as prescribed. One in four Canadian households (24%) have had an individual who decided not to fill or renew a prescription, or did something (such as cut a pill in half) to make a prescription last longer, due to cost. Additionally, the polling found that one in four households have an individual who has hesitated about quitting or changing jobs to avoid losing prescription drug coverage.

“Medications for heart disease and stroke play a critical role in prevention, treatment and recovery, and represent more than any other category of drug dispensed in Canada,” says Yves Savoie, CEO, Heart & Stroke Foundation. “It is vital that every person – regardless of income, age or where they live in Canada – is able to take the medications they need. A national universal program will go a long way in making that happen and not just fill the gaps that the current system has created.”

“Our polling indicates that almost 90 percent of Canadians support a universal national pharmacare program, confirming what nurses know from our experience – pharmacare is a burning issue for a great many people in Canada,” says Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “We believe this support from Canadians should be taken into account during the federal election discussion on pharmacare.”

The poll also revealed that one-third (35%) of Canadians report the cost of prescription drugs is a stress on their household budget; and that one in five (21%) who have prescription drug coverage still pay part of the cost of prescriptions out-of-pocket, and find the cost difficult to afford.

Studies show that some people face greater barriers to access than others. Women are less likely to have employer health benefits compared to men; and women are more likely to report non-adherence to medication due to costs. Cost-related non-adherence is also more common among Indigenous people, those aged 18 to 44 years, people with poorer health status and people with lower incomes.

Federal leadership and implementation of an equitable drug strategy are supported by both the Heart & Stroke Foundation in its policy statement on pharmacare, and the CFNU in their Pharmacare Consensus Principles, endorsed by more than 80 organizations. Both organizations say the poll makes it clear that a national universal pharmacare program should be a priority for every major political party in the October federal election.

The high cost of prescription drugs causes many to risk their health by not taking their medications as prescribed.

Poll highlights
  • 93% of Canadians feel it’s important that everyone in Canada has equal access to prescription drugs.
  • 88% of Canadians agree that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure there is prescription drug coverage for all people living in Canada.
  • 88% of Canadians support a national pharmacare program that provides equal access to prescription drugs – regardless of income – with one in two (51%) saying they strongly support such a program.
  • Over the past 12 months, one in four Canadians (24%) decided not to fill or renew a prescription, or did something to make a prescription last longer, due to its cost.
  • One in four Canadians (25%) have an individual in their household who has hesitated about quitting or changing jobs to prevent losing prescription drug coverage.
  • 35% of Canadians have experienced household budgetary stress due to the cost of prescription drugs.
  • One in five Canadians (21%) with drug coverage report that they pay part of the cost of a prescription out-of-pocket, and that those costs are difficult to afford.
About the study:

Environics Research conducted this online poll of 1,500 adult Canadians aged 18+ between August 8 and 16, 2019. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 1,500 is +/- 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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