The Star – Feb. 10, 201

The MPs mulling options for publicly funding medications will take their sweet time. There is no rush for them because they already have the type of publicly funded access that is being contemplated for other Canadians.

While about 3 million Canadians do not take medications as directed because of the cost, MPs and other lawmakers enjoy platinum medication plans for themselves and their families. 

I am glad that our elected leaders have access to life-saving medications like insulin that was discovered in Canada and treatments for HIV-AIDS that extend life expectancy by decades. It would be absurd to allow our leaders to die preventable deaths while holding elected office. 

But it is also absurd that other Canadians must either pay for medications or go without. The consequences of untreated diabetes include heart attacks, strokes and death. Are we prepared to allow people who work as food servers, artists or small-business owners to die from treatable conditions? I know that our elected leaders are very important but the lives and limbs of everyone else are important, too.

The publicly funded medicine plans for lawmakers may delay the needed policy changes. MPs and other lawmakers are insulated from our frayed patchwork system, where some people have public or private plans but others do not.

Studies in the United States have shown that lawmakers who have children in private schools are less likely to vote for laws that support public schools. Canadian lawmakers may be slow to support publicly funded medication access for all Canadians because they would not be affected by the change — their coverage is already great.

Over the past 40 years, multiple reports have recommended public funding of medications. The recent witnesses that appeared before the parliamentary committee repeated overwhelming arguments for including medications in our publicly funded system. According to surveys, Canadians overwhelming reject the idea that access to medications should depend on your job.

Dr. Nav Persaud, family physician, Toronto

From: All Canadians deserve pharmacare, not just MPs