New report released to Canada’s premiers denounces $62 billion wasted without pharmacare

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has provided all premiers with new report tallying up the total amount of wasted health care dollars over the last ten years, while Canadians wait for a national pharmacare plan.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 (OTTAWA) – Today, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions releases a new report titled: Down the Drain: How Canada Has Wasted $62 Billion Health Care Dollars without Pharmacare, where noted economist Hugh Mackenzie calculates the disturbing amount Canada has wasted over the past 10 years by not implementing national pharmacare. The CFNU releases this report leading up to the First Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow in Ottawa, where the premiers will be meeting with the federal government about clean growth, climate change, and dinner meeting around health care.

The report calculates the waste from 2006-2015. Mackenzie starts the clock two years after 2004, when Canada’s premiers unanimously called for the federal government to implement national pharmacare. Today the rate of waste continues to grow, adding even more to the growing missed opportunity of pharmacare. This year, Canadians will waste an additional $7.3 billion, equaling $14,000 squandered health care dollars every minute of every day, due to Canadians paying among the world’s highest prices for prescription drugs.

“We know that the premiers will be meeting tomorrow regarding climate change issues, and Canada’s nurses fully support these important discussions,” said CFNU President Linda Silas. “However, there are also imperative decisions that must be made around the future of our public health care system in this country, and we believe that new report substantiates that Canadians literally cannot afford to waste another minute without national pharmacare.”

Canada’s nurses believe that a great deal of the pressure that provincial and territorial governments bear every day due to rising health care costs could be alleviated if the federal government committed to implementing national pharmacare and mandated reinvesting the savings into health care.

“We believe that the very substantial waste numbers outlined in this paper represent real resources which could assist with the increasing cost of acute care, support our aging population with more home care and community care, add more frontline workers, free resources for mental health, and contribute to a needed focus on Indigenous health – all of which mean better overall health care outcomes for patients,” said Silas.

Canada’s nurses call upon all governments to take the necessary steps to secure national pharmacare for Canadians.

These include:

  • Creating an expert advisory group to establish an evidence-based national formulary
  • Consulting with health economists to propose a formula for financing national pharmacare
  • Appointing a pharmacare implementation committee to report on what framework and steps would be needed to implement pharmacare

“The case for national pharmacare has been made,” said Hugh Mackenzie. “It is one of those rare public policy initiatives in which there is no downside. With a pharmacare plan, we will have a significantly more effective system that will cost significantly less. Politically, it should be a no-brainer – eliminate waste and deliver a better service.”

Click here to read the full report: Down the Drain: How Canada Has Wasted $62 Billion Health Care Dollars without Pharmacare.


The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses. The CFNU has been advocating for national discussions on key health priorities, such as a national prescription drug plan, a comprehensive approach to long-term and continuing care, greater attention to health human resources, and federal government engagement on the future of public health care.

For more information please contact:

Emily Doer
Communications Officer


NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More