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Federal 2019 Budget: Pharmacare

March 20, 2019


The Federal Liberal government announced its 2019 budget on March 19, 2019.

In order to further its goal of making prescription drugs more affordable, the Liberals have allocated $35 million over the next four years toward establishing a Canadian Drug Agency Transition Office. The Liberals’ plan includes the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency (“CDA”), a national organization which will be responsible for managing Canada’s first national formulary. The formulary is intended to be a centralized and comprehensive list of prescription drugs covered for all Canadians.

The CDA will also be tasked with assessing the effectiveness of new prescription drugs, negotiating prices with drug manufacturers to help lower their costs, recommending drugs with the best value-for-money, and identifying which drugs could form the basis of the future formulary. The Liberals expect that this new approach could save Canadians up to $3 billion per year.

Ottawa is also earmarking $1 billion over two years, starting in 2022–23, with up to $500 million per year to be granted on an ongoing basis, to help Canadians with rare diseases access high-cost drugs. The money will be used to create a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases, gather and evaluate evidence on high-cost drugs for rare diseases, improve the consistency of decision-making and access across the country, negotiate prices, and ensure that effective treatments reach the patients who need them.


Authors: Jordan Scopa, Amanda Bertucci and Ti-Anna Wang


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