Of all the developed countries with universal, single-payer health care systems, Canada is the only one that does not include coverage for prescription drugs. There are currently 23 different public drug and supplementary plans within Alberta alone, but they provide benefits for just 20% of Albertans. Within Canada we have a patchwork of drug coverage, with more than 100,000 different drug and supplementary plans, yet, 1 in 10 Canadians cannot afford their prescription drugs. Even if we factor in private and work plans, which cannot be relied upon, the cost of plans are expensive and copayments are cost-prohibitive. Another major shortcoming of our current patchwork system is the costly burden to our health care system, and most importantly, the human costs caused by the financial barriers to necessary and life- saving medications. This results in expensive hospitalization and ultimately, in far too many cases, death. In a 2015 Angus Reid Poll, 91% of Canadians (92% of Albertans) supported a National Pharmacare Plan. Our health care system is at the cusp of a historical expansion unmatched since the inception of Medicare. The federal government, along with their provincial counterparts, is currently in conversations as to what the implementation of a national pharmacare program would look like. It has taken decades of advocacy to reach this momentous tipping point. The speaker will argue that this is a critical moment politically and explain why Friends of Medicare supports the establishment of a single-payer national pharmacare program with universal coverage for all Canadians.

Speaker: Sandra Azocar

Sandra Azocar has been an advocate for a fair and equal society for more than 30 years in Alberta. Her past experience includes working as a child protection worker, and volunteer work within the Chilean community as well as the labour movement. She has served in many positions in the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) including Vice-President from 2007-2012.

Sandra had also served on the Board of Directors of Friends of Medicare for 6 years prior to becoming the Executive Director in 2012. She currently sits on the board of the Canadian Health Coalition, Public Interest Alberta and the Board of the Chilean Canadian Cultural Society. She is an oft-quoted, tireless advocate for the protection and improvement of the Alberta’s Public health Care system.

Moderator: Robert Campbell

Date: Thursday, Jan 24, 2019 Time: Doors open 11:30 am, Presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm Location: Royal Canadian Legion (north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge Cost: $14 buffet lunch with dessert/coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required

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