Group pushes for catastrophic drug plan

Ryan Ross
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Premier Robert Ghiz has said he is confident his government will be able to implement one this year, but has yet to make to a firm commitment to it.

Island MLAs could soon be hearing more about drug costs as the Canadian Cancer Society’s P.E.I. division tries to put pressure on the government to implement a catastrophic drug plan.

Lori Barker, the society’s executive director, said her group still gets calls on a regular basis from people who are experiencing huge financial burdens because of their cancer diagnosis.

“This is not an issue that’s going away,” she said.

To keep the pressure on the government, the society and its partners in the P.E.I. Health Charities Network are asking Islanders to contact their MLAs to ask for a catastrophic drug plan.

P.E.I. and New Brunswick are the only provinces that don’t have catastrophic drug plans, although New Brunswick Premier David Alward has committed to bringing one it.

Premier Robert Ghiz has said he is confident his government will be able to implement one this year, but has yet to make to a firm commitment to it.

Barker said she is happy with the government’s optimism about bringing in a catastrophic drug plan, but if it keeps hearing from the public on the issue it will help.

“While we know that it’s important to them, we want to make sure that it remains important and a top priority,” she said.

Although the word catastrophic is often used in reference to the drug plan, Barker said what the people pushing for changes want is for no family to have to suffer financial hardship because of a diagnosis.

“If there’s ever an inability to cover the cost of drugs a plan should be in place to provide for it,” she said.

In a news release, opposition health critic Hal Perry praised the P.E.I. Health Charities Network for their work in trying to get a catastrophic drug plan for the province.

“It is completely unacceptable that 37,000 Islanders must make major sacrifices just to pay for their prescription medication,” he said.

Anyone who wants to send a message to their MLA can do so through

Organizations: P.E.I. Health Charities Network, Canadian Cancer Society

Geographic location: New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • merge the maritimes
    February 25, 2013 - 09:54

    One integrated health system for the Maritimes would make more sense than the current fragmented approach. One health card for all Maritimers, regardless of what province you live in. One pharmaceutical purchasing program for the single Maritimes health system. One catastrophic drug program for the single Maritimes health system. One ambulance service for the single Maritimes health system. One physician billing system for the single Maritimes health system. One human resources and other corporate service organization for the single Maritimes health system.

  • Garth Staples
    February 23, 2013 - 13:20

    All monies spent by the 'THEE' Govt are charged to the taxpayers including the 2 raises in salaries for MLAs from Jan to April of this year. Surely with all the 'creative' spending and accounting finesse of the Liberal Ghiz Govt it can find some coins to help people in need. Priorities my dear man, priorities.

  • All about priorities
    February 23, 2013 - 11:07

    It's all about priorities folks. And this government is running with a set that seems strange to most folk - like me. Plan B, Hills in Borden, the Holman Hotel fiasco, a rock music parking lot, a 2014 slush fund, should I go on? Yes, it's absolutely disgraceful that we have a government that thinks all these causes are more important than a proper catastrophic drug plan. But the Tories wouldn't so any better. Bring on the ndp.

  • johnny cash
    February 23, 2013 - 09:46

    This has been needed for years but with gizz in charge i won't hold my breath. He may need to build some monument to boost his ego or add an extra lane to Plan B.

  • James Macgoo Lakeside
    February 23, 2013 - 09:29

    Mr. Ghiz states he is confident his government would see a plan implemented this year, but has yet to make a firm committment. That statement is a "fancy" non committment by Mr. Ghiz. The individuals and families suffering from the diseases and the destruction they bring to their families deserve better. At the very least Mr. Ghiz could identify this catastrophic drug plan as one of his primary health initiatives and emphatically state he will present a plan for action to the government this year. Making a statement such as this demonstrates leadership and committment to the issue. His current statement is an offering of a placebo to these individuals. They deserve better availability to treatment, respect, and a more thoughtful statement from Mr. Ghiz..

  • Shawn Graham crashes and burns
    February 23, 2013 - 09:23

    PEI and New Brunswick have very different ways of doing things. Shawn Graham found in conflict of interest for 50 million loan to friend who went bankrupt. PEI cited for Conflict under Ghiz but the whole province is corrupted by PNP stealing. Health care demands as voters get sicker with corruption.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    February 23, 2013 - 09:19

    Catastophic drug plan - it's just another excuse (reason) to justify raising of taxes or just who do you think ends up paying for this? We all do. If government managed its purse the way I have to, they could afford a catastrophic drug plan BUT GOVERNMENTS HAVE MISMANAGED OUR PURSE FOR 50 YEARS.This is another step down the road to full authoritarianism through collectivism, the new socialist mantra. These cancer societies have been collecting money and doing research for more than 50 years and still no decline in cancer rates, quite the opposite in fact. WHY? The Canadian Cancer Society, like its American counterpart are not the wonderful non profits that you think they are. The American Cancer Society is the richest non profit organization in the world. All cancer societies were set up originally by the owners of the pharmaceutical and drug companies as an extra stream of money to fund their research and not necessarily anti cancer or cancer cure research. Here is how the scam works. You donate money or work because you want to help. They take your money and add it to mine and give out the money for projects they approve of. But here's the kicker. Who do you think is doing the research? Why, the pharmaceutical companies and other such labs. Should the lab find a cure they are under no legal obligation to inform the public or make it available. It becomes the labs intellectual property. So we fund their research, they own it, then they sell us daily treatments instead of cures because that is where the profits are. They do not help people who are suffering with cancer. Most moneys collected are used to sustain the (BEAST) organization itself .

  • Pavement over patients?
    February 23, 2013 - 07:26

    I feel sorry for Mr. Ghiz on this one. How can he use our tax dollars to pay for important things like 30 million dollars worth of pavement in Bonshaw and silly things like catastrophic drug plans at the same time?

    • at the end of the day . . .
      February 24, 2013 - 07:44

      To quote Mr. Ghiz, "Madam Speaker, Madam Speaker, at the end of the day Madam Speaker, at the end of the day." Now if that doesn't bring clarity to small minded Islanders, what will?

    • cold hard truth is pavement
      February 24, 2013 - 11:15

      The answer to that question is simple. Building a highway, whether it's needed or not, creates jobs and deposits funds in "key" places. Investing funds just to keep a few suffering people alive and to give them some quality of life will not get anyone re-elected. To this end, Mr. Ghiz is effectively investing our tax dollars. Effective for whom is another question, but it's effective nonetheless.

  • Garth Staples
    February 23, 2013 - 06:42

    With another raise in pay, 2 in 4 months, the MLAs will work harder than ever to find the money for better drug programme. No?

  • Tom Paine
    February 23, 2013 - 06:06

    This is the real problem with our system. You have to balance providing core services for EVERYONE versus what INSURANCE is meant to do, which is provide services in case of CATASTROPHY. There's a new cancer treatment that costs $10,000 a month (per person) What basic services would $120K a year fund? I know if I were in need of expensive medicines, I'd surely like my insurance to cover it. On the other hand, if you don't have a doctor or have to wait 8 months to see a specialists, you might not even know you need it. It's very hard to balance providing core services for 140,000 people, which we still don't have, versus providing needed catastrophic services in unusual cases.

  • don
    February 23, 2013 - 06:05

    like dizzy or perry really cares about health on PEI they have health care and big time. so why not stop this crap from both parties. as the only member as far as i am concerned that really wanted to help the little guy was crane and the rest is after money and power. if i am wrong prove me wrong do not take your pay increase come the next setting of the house and take a pay cut of 7.5% prove to us you all care. but we all know that will not happen as what i have said is true you all fight in the house but after you all go out a have a drink and plan the next line of crap for the cameras. NOW PROVE US WRONG.