Surrey Board of Trade Receives Support for a Universal Pharmacare Program for Business

KELOWNA, BC – The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the provincial government and the federal government economic benefits of universal pharmacare for businesses at the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference, May 29 – 31 in Kelowna. This policy was approved at today’s BC Chamber policy session as a priority to the BC Government.

“Drug coverage in Canada is provided through an incomplete patchwork of private and public programs that varies across provinces. This fragmented system reduces access to medicines, diminishes drug purchasing power, duplicates administrative costs, and isolates pharmaceutical management from the management of medical and hospital care. It is needlessly costing Canadian businesses billions of dollars every year,” said Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade.

The Surrey Board of Trade’s specific policy recommendations are that the Provincial Government and the Federal Government

  1. Work to develop a universal pharmaceutical program that will engender cost savings through bulk purchasing agreements and other cost-sharing strategies; and
  2. Avoid off-loading costs of providing pharmaceutical coverage onto businesses through private insurance schemes per the Quebec model.

Economies of a single-payer system

There is a better option. A universal, comprehensive public drug plan that was consistent throughout BC and across Canada would be a wise investment for BC’s economic prosperity. Research has shown that such a plan would reduce employer-sponsored drug costs in Canada by up to $10.2 billion per year – a $570 million annual savings for businesses in British Columbia alone.4 This would boost Canada’s labour market competitiveness.

A universal pharmaceutical program would be economically viable not only by taking advantage of the power of a single purchaser, but through the following:

  1. Reduction of administration costs for businesses and unions
  2. Elimination of the need for tax subsidies to encourage employer funded benefit packages
  3. Decreased direct emergency and acute care medical costs due to inappropriate or underuse of drug 
  4. Reduction of other health service costs 
Because of these increased efficiencies, a universal pharmacare
    program would increase government costs by only $3.4 billion, $2.4 billion of which could be financed by the reduced cost of private drug benefits for public sector employees. The 2015 Angus Reid Institute poll found that most taxpayers would support such a program, even if it required modest increase in taxes.

The Surrey Board of Trade authored this policy. At this BC Chamber of Commerce AGM, Chamber delegates from across B.C. voted on this policy, among others put forward. The policy received two-thirds of votes to pass.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is proud to take this policy forward to our peers from across the province,” said Anita Huberman. “Our organization is committed to creating a more business-friendly Surrey and a more business-friendly B.C. We think this policy will help achieve that and we hope it will get the needed votes from our peer Chambers and Boards of Trade.”

The BC Chamber AGM and Conference is held in a different B.C. community each year. The event is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province. Every year, member Chambers of the BC Chamber develop and submit policies for the consideration of their peers. This year, 54 policies were forwarded and will be voted on at the AGM policy sessions. The Surrey Board of Trade submitted 11 policies for approval.

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For further details, please contact:

Anita Huberman, CEO
D: 604.634.0342
C: 604.340.3899