Without a universal prescription drug plan, coverage in Canada vastly differs depending on where you live. Regionally, Atlantic Canada has among the lowest rates of access to prescription medications in the country. In Nova Scotia, even publically-funded programs require co-payments or deductibles, which have proven to reduce access.

26 percent of Atlantic Canadians don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford to.

Public spending in Nova Scotia covers less than half the cost of prescription medicine.

An estimated one in three of the province’s 448,100 workers – 149,366 – don’t have health benefits.

In Canada, only about 27 percent of part-time workers have prescription drug coverage. That means that in 2015, about three-quarters of Nova Scotia’s 79,900 part-time workers didn’t have prescription drug coverage.

In 2015, there were 58,600 self-employed workers in Nova Scotia without employer-based health benefit coverage.

Nova Scotia’s Seniors Pharmacare Program leaves seniors paying a premium based on household income, as well as an annual co-payment.

The province’s Family Pharmacare Program, for families without drug coverage and those with unusually high prescription drug costs, leaves recipients having to contribute to the costs of certain prescription drugs. There is also an annual co-payment and deductible, depending on household income.

Even charges as low as $2 have been found to be a barrier to taking medication as prescribed.

This patchwork coverage leaves many Nova Scotians without access to the medication they need, either because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Everyone should have equal access to the prescription drugs they need regardless of where they live. It’s time for a universal prescription drug plan.