Cancel prescription co-payments for seniors in Ontario

NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to cancel and cover the drug co-payments seniors in Ontario are required to pay every time they fill a prescription, as COVID-19 measures force seniors to fill their prescriptions more often.

The provincial government has asked pharmacists to dispense no more than one month’s worth of medication at a time in order to prevent drug shortages. Seniors pay up to $6.11 every time they fill a prescription, regardless of how many months’ supply they take home.

“No senior in Ontario should have to skip their pills or skimp on food as a result of the pandemic,” said Horwath. “But if seniors have to pay for each prescription each month, some of them will be forced to make difficult choices.

“This could make our elderly loved ones unwell, and put more pressure on our overloaded health care system.”

At $6.11, a senior couple with three prescriptions each would be charged $109.98 for a three-month supply under the new one-month dispensing policy, rather than $36.66.

Lower co-payments of $2 per prescription are only available to seniors earning less than $19,300, or $32,300 per couple.

“Cancelling drug co-payments for seniors is one thing the provincial government can and should do right now so we can ensure our elderly loved ones can afford to keep filling their prescriptions while preventing shortages in medication during the pandemic,” said Horwath.

The NDP has long called for pharmacare in Ontario, meaning prescription drug coverage for everyone.