Improving affordability and accessibility of medications in Prince Edward Island

News release

August 16, 2023 | Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island | Health Canada

No Canadian should have to choose between paying for prescription drugs and putting food on the table. Unfortunately, many are faced with this impossible decision every day. The Government of Canada recognizes that for many Canadians, the cost of their medication is an additional barrier to accessing the essential health care they need. 

Today, the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, and the Honourable Mark V. McLane, Minister of Health and Wellness for Prince Edward Island (PEI), announced that PEI residents have saved over $675,000 out-of-pocket costs on more than 77,000 prescriptions. 

In June 2023, PEI’s $5 copay program reduced copays for almost 60% of medications regularly used by Island residents for eligible medications used for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health covered under the public drug programs. The High-Cost Drug Program was also modified to remove barriers making the program available to all income levels. In addition, in July 2023, PEI adjusted the Catastrophic Drug Program to lower the annual cap on the amount of money a household spends on eligible medications.

These latest improvements are an important milestone part of the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs (IAAPD) program that provides federal funding to PEI to improve access to and make prescriptions drugs more affordable for Island residents. Details on PEI’s support for the cost of prescription medication are available here.

This partnership between the Government of Canada and PEI continues to improve access and affordability to essential medication for those who experience the most vulnerability, including uninsured Island residents, seniors, and families with high burden of medication cost.


“For too many Canadians, the cost of medication is an additional barrier to accessing the health care they need. Since we announced the IAAPD program in August 2021, more PEI residents and families have benefited from a more affordable access to essential medications.”

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

“It is so important that cost is not a barrier for medications, this is a huge improvement in drug affordability and accessibility in PEI. This is putting money directly back into the pockets of Island residents.”

The Honourable Mark V. McLane
Minister of Health and Wellness, Government of Prince Edward Island

“The cost of prescription drugs can create an additional barrier to the health care many folks on PEI need. I’m glad to see that the $5 copay program has already saved Islanders over $675,000 in out-of-pocket costs for medication and life-saving treatments since it launched in June.”

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Quick facts

  • This announcement builds on previous changes made by the Government of PEI to improve access to medications, including the addition of 61 medications on its list of covered drugs. These improvements include medications used in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, migraine, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

  • In March 2023, the Government of Canada supported PEI in announcing the expansion of their provincial drug coverage to reduce Island residents' out-of-pocket costs on many prescription medicines. This included expanding access to the Catastrophic Drug Program and increase access to the High-Cost Drug Program.

  • In December 2022, the Government of Canada and PEI added another suite of medications to the PEI formulary, including two important medications, Zejula®(niraparib tosylate) and Lynparza®(olaparib), for treating ovarian cancer.

  • In August 2022, PEI strengthened community mental health services with the addition of second generation long-acting antipsychotic medications, as requested by local care providers, to the Community Mental Health program. Other improvements include changes to special authorization requirements for 23 medications on the Pharmacare formulary that allowed greater ease of access for physicians seeking to provide medications to residents.

  • In June 2022, the Government of Canada and PEI announced a suite of substance use treatment medications to be available, at no cost, to Island residents under the Substance Use Harm Reduction Drug Program.


Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland 
Minister of Health

Morgan Martin
Media Contact
Health and Wellness

Media Relations
Health Canada

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