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Is affordable prescription medicine for Canadians coming?

Written by
Written by

Jessica Morgan is a personal finance writer and the founder of, a platform that helps Canadians improve their financial literacy.  When she found a lack of Canadian-specific resources for learning about personal finance, she made it her goal to find, share and create more of it to help other Canadians.


Jessica is a personal finance enthusiast and a millennial mom of one with an MBA from Toronto Metropolitan University. Jessica has a keen focus on enhancing financial literacy among Canadians, particularly among women, and those in the public sector.

Jessica Morgan
Affordable (Pharmacare)

Is affordable prescription medicine coming soon for Canadians across the country? The government has released details on the progress of the new Pharmacare Act. The Pharmacare Act plans to provide affordable prescription access for Canadians. It aims to reduce financial barriers to healthcare by providing low-cost or free access to some prescription medications.

Currently, each province manages its health care system and insurance plan. However, the federal government has developed a master plan for a national pharmacare program. A task force is advising on this program. It includes members from several federal ministries, provincial health organizations, and experts.

What this means for low-income Canadians

The high cost of prescription drugs can be a barrier to health care. Some families have employer-sponsored health insurance that covers prescription drugs. Yet, many Canadians have to pay out of pocket for essential medications.

Those Canadians, like self-employed, gig workers and others, without prescription drug coverage are in a difficult situation. Especially, those who need essential medications but can’t afford them are at risk. The high cost of medication is a serious barrier to those in debt or on low incomes. As a result, some families may skip doses, delay, or avoid filling their prescriptions. This approach can lead to higher healthcare costs in the long run. Not treating illnesses as prescribed can lead to complications and more costly solutions.

Even during prime economic times, some people struggle to pay for medication. These are far from prime economic times. Inflation, topping out at over 8% just two years ago, has eaten away at purchasing power. Many Canadians have little income left at the end of the month. Affordable housing is often out of reach, and necessities take up more of our paycheques. Leaving many to have to choose between necessities, prescriptions being one of them.

Prescription costs are not chump change. Almost 20% of Canadians spend $500 a month or more on prescription drugs. Making, high prescription medication costs are an issue in communities across the country. Canadians rely on prescription drugs to treat and prevent illnesses and conditions.  Expensive prescription medications are unaffordable for families already on a tight budget.

Affordable pharmacare in action

Imagine getting the medicines you need at a price you can afford. What if instead of $500 you only pay $5 a month for your prescriptions? What may sound like a pipe dream is already a reality for the residents of PEI. Collectively, Islanders have saved $2 MIllion in out-of-pocket prescription costs since a $5 copay program was launched just last year. Rolling out this program nationwide will save the average family over $350 a year. Eventually, the Pharmacare Act hopes to even cap the amount Canadians pay for prescriptions at $100 a year. For high-debt or low-income families, that could make a real difference in their day-to-day lives.

This plan tackles the affordability crisis in Canadian healthcare. It also addresses inequalities in our healthcare system. With access to low-cost medication, Canadians can live better, healthier lives. Furthermore, it will increase freedom and flexibility in employment. Canadians may hesitate to leave a job because of a good health insurance plan.

Which prescriptions will be covered under Pharmacare?

At the moment, the national Pharmacare Act focuses on two areas: contraception and Diabetes medication. The decision to focus on these two prescriptions stemmed from their ability to impact a large number of Canadians across the country. 


A wide variety of contraceptive methods are on the table in the Pharmacare Act. Getting access to low-cost contraceptives can impact women across the country. Young and low-income women are specifically affected by the costs of birth control. This will give women options and choices on whether or when they want to become mothers. Including contraception in the Pharmacare plan addresses equality and reproductive rights. Access to contraception can also reduce unintended pregnancies. 

Diabetes medication

Diabetes is a disease that affects over 3 million people in Canada. The federal Pharmacare Act covers many medications, devices, and supplies. Canadians living with diabetes spend a lot of money on medication and supplies. These costs can significantly impact their lives. Accessing affordable options to treat diabetes will help Canadians manage their diabetes better. This plan will reduce costs for people living with and treating the disease.

Other options for affordable prescriptions

If you currently have high prescription drug costs, you might be wondering if there is any help while we wait for the Pharmacare Act to roll out. Regardless of your city or province, you may already have access to some level of Pharmacare. Most programs qualify individuals for coverage based on income, age or both. Review your province’s program(s) below for further details:

Provincial Pharmacare Programs

Final Thoughts

There is a national Pharmacare Act in the works. The federal government and provinces are working together. to iron out the details. Even though it’s still in its early stages, it’s worth watching out for its progress. Access to healthcare should not depend on whether we can afford the prescription. Removing financial barriers and bringing greater equality to healthcare by way of affordable medication is a win for all Canadians.

Is the high cost of debt payments making it hard to be able to afford medication?’s trained Credit Counsellors can help! Contact one today to get started on your path to debt-relief and better health.

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