We asked, they answered: the Call for Commitment to a Catastrophic Drug Program

23 September 2011

Charlottetown -

The Prince Edward Island Health Charities Network has spoken up for the thousands of Islanders who are struggling to access the medications they need. We asked your political party leaders for their commitment and action plan to support these Islanders, no matter disease or condition.

“Over the last few weeks there has been a public call for support and many announcements and statements about the cost of medications and healthcare access on PEI,” reminds Jessesar MacNeil, of the MS Society, Atlantic Division. “As the only province in Canada that does not have or has not committed to a catastrophic drug program, this leaves 25% of Islanders without any form of drug coverage. Regardless of disease or condition, we hear from people who every day are left to make difficult decisions between managing pain, battling deteriorating physical mobility or life’s necessities.”

The PEI Health Charities Network believes the need for a provincial catastrophic drug program to support these thousands of Islanders is the number one health issue facing our health care system and communities today. So we asked for a commitment now, not a promise for what could happen, but for what must happen. As our leaders are seeking public support we are speaking out for those who need real support for their health so they can remain contributing members of our communities.

We asked:

  1. Will your party commit to implementing a provincial catastrophic drug program for all Islanders?
  2. If yes, within what timeframe will you honor this commitment, so Islanders will have access to a provincial catastrophic drug program?

“The response from each party showed a variety of levels of support for a catastrophic drug program, which is both encouraging and concerning,” says Terry Lewis, Canadian Diabetes Association. “This is a time for honest and clear commitment to Islanders facing real health and quality of life issues. We encourage all Islanders, when choosing their government to be aware of the parties’ priorities, particularly that of health and catastrophic drug coverage.”

Green Party of PEI:

  • Yes, the Green Party will provide coverage for all Islanders for catastrophic drugs, to be addressed immediately after the election in the first sitting of the Legislature.

Island Party of PEI:

  • Our policy will favor a catastrophic drug plan.

Liberal Party of PEI:

  • The Liberal Party believes that the Federal Government must be a partner in Catastrophic Drug Funding. The Government is in the midst of a full review and modernization of provincial public drug programs. Based on the reviews and recommendations to Executive Council, it is anticipated that a modernized drug program will be in place in 2013.

New Democratic Party of PEI:

  • Yes, we have been pushing for a catastrophic drug program for some time. A catastrophic drug program should be implemented as soon as possible. We would therefore try to implement it immediately.

PEI Progressive Conservative Party:

  • Yes, the PEI PC Government has committed to implementing a catastrophic drug program within the first two years of our mandate.

Whether you are fighting cancer and require a medication that is very costly or you are living with a chronic condition that requires multiple medications to manage symptoms, the PEI Health Charities Network advocates that no Islanders should face undue financial burden for their health. A provincial catastrophic drug program ensures that if the cost of an individual’s required medications exceeds 3% of their income, assistance is provided to ensure equitable access for all Islanders.

“Although there are positive responses from the majority of parties, it greatly concerns me that, if elected, the Liberal Party remains reliant on the Federal Government when it comes to a provincial catastrophic drug program,” states Betty Fraser, Board President of the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division. “Our provincial government makes the decisions on how the budget is spent, and health care is a provincial issue. PEI remains the only province without a commitment to a catastrophic drug program. A modernized drug program will not provide security and coverage for all residents of PEI.
I refuse to feel like a second class citizen in a country that values universal health care for all. It is time for action now.”

The PEI Health Charities Network online letter writing campaign can be found at www.campaignforcoverage.ca.

The PEI Health Charities Network is a coalition of the Alzheimer Society of PEI; the Arthritis Society of PEI; the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division; the Canadian Diabetes Association; Kidney Cancer Canada, Atlantic Region; the Kidney Foundation of Canada; the Lung Association of Prince Edward Island; the MS Society of Canada, Atlantic Division; and the Parkinson Society, Maritime Region.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Marlene Dorey

Director of Revenue Development

Phone: 902-566-4007