(WINDSOR, ON) – The Ontario Federation of Labour is buoyed by a pharmaceutical plan announced on the weekend by Andrea Horwath, current leader of the provincial NDP. The plan will provide free prescribed drugs to Ontarians and will be a plank in the party’s platform for the upcoming June 2018 election.
Right now, says the OFL, 2.2 million people do not have prescription drug coverage. The NDP plan would start in 2020.
“Progress requires bold vision,” said OFL president Chris Buckley. “If we truly want to create an Ontario that is decent, fair, and equitable then we must ensure that everyone has access to essential medications; regardless of where they work and how much they earn.”
The OFL quote information from the Wellesley Institute which shows, “… 27 per cent of part-time workers in Canada had employer provided medical benefits relative to 73 per cent of full-time workers. One in three workers in Ontario do not receive employer-provided medical or dental benefits, and workers with low earnings are far less likely to receive benefits than those with higher earnings.”
This lack of coverage is higher for those in so-called insecure jobs. Some 80 per cent of these workers do not receive any benefits including vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage.
“Workers and families are forced to delay, or bypass, essential health and dental care. This is simply unacceptable. The reality of Ontario’s working class requires immediate action,” said Buckley. “With the decline in full-time and permanent work, and the corresponding increase in insecure work, fewer Ontarians have access to workplace benefits, including prescription drug coverage.”
In addition to a drug benefit program, the OFL called for an expansion of universal social programs and public services, including child care, housing, post-secondary education, social and community services, and public pensions.