Loss of extended pharmacare program will hurt vulnerable Nova Scotians

December 18, 2014

NDP Health critic Dave Wilson says the Liberal government’s decision to eliminate the province’s extended pharmacare program will hurt vulnerable Nova Scotians.

“This program ensured that families struggling to make ends meet didn’t have to choose between food and medicine. If the government wanted to streamline services they could have moved the program over to the Department of Health but instead they chose to eliminate it,” said Wilson.

Minister of Community Services Joanne Bernard announced the phasing out of the program earlier this week, on Dec. 16. The extended pharmacare program helps low-income Nova Scotians who are no longer financially eligible for income assistance but still can’t afford to pay their prescription costs. The co-payment is $5 per prescription. 300 Nova Scotians currently receive benefits through the program.

People who would have been eligible for the program will now have to rely on the provincial family pharmacare program. Co-payments are 20 per cent of the cost of each prescription and deductible maximums are based on family size and annual income.

Wilson says the elimination of the program will be a disincentive for people who are trying to find employment and leave the income assistance program, especially for people with health issues.

“Any administration savings from eliminating this program should be used to improve drug coverage for people who have dragged themselves out of the social assistance system by finding work, but who have no workplace drug plan and make too little wages to afford their medications,” said Wilson.