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Labour Day picnic in Kentville promotes need for federally funded universal pharmacare


KENTVILLE, NS - An annual Labour Day picnic held at Memorial Park was used again this year as a vehicle to raise awareness of the need for a national pharmacare plan.

Annapolis Valley Labour Council (AVLC) president Wayne Kelley said the organization is affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. They are lobbying the federal government for a pharmacare plan for all Canadians. Kelley visited Ottawa this spring as part of the lobbying effort. With a federal election coming up sometime in the not-too-distant future, they plan to make it an issue.

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He said no one should be forced to choose between paying for groceries and paying for the medication they need, especially when it’s a child in need of prescription coverage, so the labour organizations are trying to change this. One out of five Canadians is paying out of pocket for medications because they don’t have a prescription drug plan or have plans that don’t cover the cost.

Kelley said this is the second year that the pharmacare issue has been the theme of Labour Day events such as the annual picnic held at Kentville’s Memorial Park on Sept. 3. Participants were encouraged to sign a petition in support of a national pharmacare plan for everyone.

“We do this to give back to the community,” Kelley said about the annual picnic. “We’ve been part of the communities in the Annapolis Valley for 60 years now.”

He has been a federal employee at Camp Aldershot and 14 Wing Greenwood since 1986 and said that labour has been a part of his life for a long time. His hope is that those attending the picnic would take away that the AVLC is there not only to serve as an advocate for labour issues or the many unions at work in our communities but for them as individuals as well.

He said the picnic is well attended by many union and non-union members who bring their children to the family-friendly event. The picnic is well supported by the business community, with Great Valley Juices providing pop and juice and Meadowbrook Meat Market donating hotdogs. Aside from the barbecue there was live music, a bounce castle, face painting, a dunk tank and more.

It’s the position of the CLC that a universal prescription drug plan would save money through bulk purchasing power. For example, in New Zealand, a public authority negotiates on behalf of the entire country. There, a year’s supply of the cholesterol drug Lipitor costs $15 a year, compared to $811 in Canada.

The CLC believes that if the purchasing power of all Canadians were combined under one plan, an annual investment of $1 billion by the federal government would save Canadians $7.3 billion a year on the medications they need. A 2015 Angus Reid poll found that 91 per cent of Canadians believe that our public health care system should include a universal prescription drug plan.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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For more information on the lobbying effort for a universal prescription drug plan, visit www.aplanforeveryone.ca.

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