Ontario to Provide the First Universal Drug Program of its Kind in Canada in 2018
As part of the 2017 Budget, Ontario is giving children and youth a better start in life by moving to make prescription medications free.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was joined today by Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, at Jenner Jean-Marie Community Centre in Toronto to announce the new OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare Program.
Beginning January 1, 2018, all children and youth 24 years of age or younger will be able to get their prescription medications for free by simply showing their Ontario health card number and a prescription. Coverage will be automatic, with no upfront costs.
The proposed new program will improve access to prescription medications for more than four million children and young people, and will help many families to afford the medications their children need to stay healthy.
Beyond the most common prescriptions, OHIP+ will give young people access to more than 4,400 drugs reimbursed under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, including medications listed under the Exceptional Access Program, at no cost. These include drugs to treat cancer and rare diseases.
Ontario's drug funding program is already one of the country's most generous, helping to pay for needed prescription medications for seniors, people with high drug costs, and other vulnerable populations. Ontario is investing $465 million to expand coverage through OHIP+.
Making prescription medications more affordable for families is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.
"The Children and Youth Pharmacare program is the first universal drug program in Canada for youth 24 and under, providing access to prescription drugs to over four million young people. By eliminating financial barriers to prescribed drugs, it will improve access, lead to healthier lives for our children and youth, and is a major step forward towards universal pharmacare."
— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
- Once this program is implemented, Ontario will be the first province to provide universal prescription medication coverage for children and youth 24 and under.
- To ensure a smooth transition to public drug coverage, the province will work with Ontario Works administrators, the federal government and Indigenous leaders.
- Ontario will also work with representatives from the private insurance industry to ensure that any savings are passed on to employees and employers.
- Prescription medications will be covered if they are listed on the Ontario Drug Benefit formulary or if they are funded through the Exceptional Access Program formulary and requested by a doctor.
- Ontario is investing an additional $7 billion in health care over the next three years. With these new investments, growth in health spending will now average 3.3 per cent over the medium term.