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A Social Insurance Model for Pharmacare: Ontario's Options for a More Sustainable, Cost-Effective Drug Program


  • Colin Busby

    (C.D. Howe Institute)

  • William B.P. Robson

    (C.D. Howe Institute)


With annual spending of about $4.5 billion dollars in 2010, Canada’s largest drug plan – the Ontario Drug Program (ODB) – will become harder to afford as the babyboomers age and workforce growth slows. A business-as-usual approach to funding the plan, which provides publicly funded drug benefits to every Ontario resident aged 65 an older, presents a bleak prospect and amounts to wilfully passing on an exorbitant bill to future generations. Ontario, like all jurisdictions, faces tough challenges at the intersection of fiscal and health policy. Partial prefunding and benefit-payment reform of the ODB would put a key health program on a stronger and more sustainable footing.

Suggested Citation

  • Colin Busby & William B.P. Robson, 2011. "A Social Insurance Model for Pharmacare: Ontario's Options for a More Sustainable, Cost-Effective Drug Program," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 326, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdh:commen:326

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin D. Moore & William Robson & Alexandre Laurin, 2010. "Canada’s Looming Retirement Challenge: Will Future Retirees Be Able to Maintain Their Living Standards upon Retirement?," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 317, December.
    2. Philippe Bergevin & William B.P. Robson, 2011. "The Costs of Inflexible Indexing: Avoiding the Adverse Fiscal Impacts of Lower Inflation," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 322, February.
    3. David Longworth, 2010. "Warding Off Financial Market Failure: How to Avoid Squeezed Margins and Bad Haircuts," C.D. Howe Institute Backgrounder, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 135, December.
    4. Angelo Melino, 2011. "Moving Monetary Policy Forward: Why Small Steps - and a Lower Inflation Target - Make Sense for the Bank of Canada," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 319, January.
    5. Jotham Peters & Chris Bataille & Nic Rivers & Mark Jaccard, 2010. "Taxing Emissions, Not Income: How to Moderate the Regional Impact of Federal Environment Policy," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 314, November.
    6. Alexandre Laurin & Finn Poschmann & William B.P. Robson, 2011. "When Striking an Awkward Balance Means Striking Out: Budget 2011," e-briefs 112, C.D. Howe Institute.
    7. Alexandre Laurin & William B.P. Robson, 2011. "A Faster Track to Fiscal Balance: The 2011 Shadow Budget," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 320, February.
    8. John Richards, 2011. "School Dropouts: Who Are They and What Can Be Done?," e-briefs 109, C.D. Howe Institute.
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    Cited by:

    1. William Robson & Colin Busby & Aaron Jacobs, 2014. "Healthcare and an Aging Population: Managing Slow-Growing Revenues and Rising Health Spending in British Columbia," e-briefs 195, C.D. Howe Institute.
    2. William Robson & Colin Busby & Aaron Jacobs, 2014. "Managing Healthcare for an Aging Population: Ontario’s Troubling Collision Course," e-briefs 192, C.D. Howe Institute.
    3. William Robson & Colin Busby & Aaron Jacobs, 2015. "Managing Healthcare for an Aging Population: Are Demographics a Fiscal Iceberg for Newfoundland and Labrador?," e-briefs 200, C.D. Howe Institute.

    More about this item


    The Health Papers; Ontario Drug Program (ODB); Province of Ontario;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare


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