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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce responds to “Universal pharmacare benefits business and working families”, published in The Hill Times on February 25. The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Hill Times on March 1, 2019.

On February 25, The Hill Times printed a column suggesting that businesses and families support the proposals to throw out a pharmacare system that is working for most Canadians in favour of a costly single-payer alternative. The authors do not speak for the Canadian business community, and they could not be more wrong about what Canadians want.

First, the opinion piece omitted that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – the voice of business representing over 200,000 employers across the country – does not want a single-payer system.  Businesses want an approach that fills in the gaps in the existing system by providing coverage for the 10% of Canadians who actually need the help: the uninsured or underinsured. Approximately 350 local chambers of commerce representing every sector, region, and size of business supported, with 97% of their votes, a policy resolution to this effect last year.

Second, Canadians have been clear that they believe the system is working. A recent study by Abacus Data shows that 86% of Canadians are satisfied their private/group insurance is making medicine affordable and 82% are satisfied with the range of medicines covered. A full 90% of Canadians believe a national pharmacare program should in no way put group benefits at risk of cancellation. 

It is not fiscally responsible to increase public sector debt to pay for an expensive single-payer approach when the existing system is working for most Canadians. National pharmacare will provide the greatest value to Canadians by focusing on those who do not have coverage and those who are under-insured. An approach that fills in the gaps in the existing system can raise the bar and improve health outcomes by providing the most appropriate coverage to those who need it. This is what Canadians and Canadian businesses want.

Dr. Trevin Stratton

Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce