February 14, 2018 3:26 pm
Updated: February 14, 2018 5:05 pm

B.C. the worst province for drug affordability due to cost of living: report

File photo. A study finds Canadians are cutting back spending on food and living expenses just to pay for their prescriptions.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

Deciding to pay for either prescription drugs or food and housing is a choice many Canadians are forced to make, according to a new study out today.

But the problem is worse in B.C.

While 5.5 per cent of Canadians couldn’t afford one or more of their prescriptions, approximately 8.1 per cent of British Columbians weren’t able to.

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Using data from Statistics Canada, a report from University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU), McMaster and University of Toronto, researchers investigating the impact of drug costs in Canada has found an estimated 900,000 plus Canadians cut back on the basics to pay for prescriptions.

READ MORE: Canadians taking prescription drugs cut groceries, heat spending: study

Speaking on The Jon McComb Show on CKNW, UBC associate professor Michael Law said they’ve known for a long time it’s been a harder choice for British Columbians.

“And we think it has to do with the deductibles in the public drug plan, which require people to pay a big money amount out of pocket before government coverage kicks in, and also just frankly the cost of living in British Columbia is higher than the rest of Canada.”

The study estimated 730,000 people cut their spending on food, and 238,000 spent less on home heating because of prescription drug costs.

“It’s the glaring hole in Canadian health care,” said Law.

It’s not all bad news, though.

Efforts taken by governments to reduce drug costs and negotiate better prices for generic drugs have made this better.

Twenty-eight thousand people participated in the Statistics Canada survey.

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