Budget 2019: Minister Carr meets Association of Manitoba Municipalities to discuss national pharmacare and investments in municipal infrastructure

News release

March 25, 2019 - Winnipeg, Manitoba - Global Affairs Canada 

Canadians are proud of Canada’s health care system, which provides care based on need and not the ability to pay. However, not everyone has access to prescription drugs. In fact, Canadians face some of the highest drug costs in the world and drug coverage is at times uneven.

Today, in Winnipeg, the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, spoke with representatives from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. The Minister highlighted key investments in Budget 2019, Investing in the Middle Class—among them, how the government is making sure middle-class Canadians feel the impact of Canada’s economic growth. That includes helping more Canadians find an affordable home, prepare for well-paid jobs, retire with confidence and get prescription drugs when they need them.

Minister Carr discussed investments that would be possible in communities in rural Manitoba as a result of the increases in transfers through Budget 2019. As the Minister shared with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman last week, municipalities can expect to see double the transfer allocation that they received in the last federal budget. The result is a dramatic increase in funds that will be available for badly needed community investments in projects like roads and community centres.

The Minister also highlighted that Budget 2019 announced the government’s intention to work with its partners to move forward on three foundational elements of national pharmacare.

  • Together, they will work to create the Canadian Drug Agency, which would assess the effectiveness of new prescription drugs and negotiate drug prices on behalf of Canada’s drug plans. By negotiating better prices, this could help lower the cost of drugs for Canadians by up to $3 billion per year over the long term.
  • The Government of Canada and its partners will take steps toward the development of a national formulary—a comprehensive list of evidence-based prescription drugs. The government will work in partnership with provinces, territories and stakeholders to develop this list, which would provide the basis for a consistent approach to formulary listing and patient access across the country.
  • They will work to establish a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases to help Canadians—many of whom are children—get better access to the effective treatments that they need. The government will work with provinces, territories and other partners to develop a plan to ensure that patients with rare diseases have better and more consistent coverage for treatments.  

These measures are an important first step in expanding drug coverage and moving forward on implementing national pharmacare. They are based on the consultations and interim report of the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. The Advisory Council’s final report is expected in spring 2019.


“Canadians are proud of their health care system, but we know it can be improved. No Canadian should have to choose between putting food on the table and buying the prescription drugs they or their family need. The new Canadian Drug Agency will help lower the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians, and a national approach will help make some of the most expensive drugs more accessible for Canadians with rare diseases. These measures mark important first steps on the way to a system that helps all Canadians get the medicine they need.”

    - Minister of International Trade Diversification, Jim Carr

Quick facts

  • Budget 2019 proposes providing up to $1 billion over two years, starting in 2022-2023, with up to $500 million per year ongoing, to help Canadians with rare diseases access the drugs they need. Budget 2019 also proposes providing $35 million over four years to Health Canada, starting in 2019-2020, to establish a Canadian Drug Agency transition office.

  • Every year, almost one million Canadians give up food and heat expenses to afford medicine. Prescription drug spending in Canada rose from $2.6 billion in 1985 to $33.7 billion in 2018.

  • In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare to lead a national dialogue on how best to implement national pharmacare in a manner that is affordable for Canadians and their families, employers and governments.

  • The Council has engaged thousands of Canadians from across the country through stakeholder round tables, targeted engagement sessions and community town halls. Groups consulted included patients and caregivers, health care providers, representatives of Indigenous organizations, government officials, industry, labour, employers and academics.

  • The Advisory Council provided preliminary recommendations to the Government of Canada in its interim report, released on March 6, 2019.

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Isabella Brisson-Urdaneta
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Trade Diversification

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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