Arthritis Society Applauds 2018 Federal Budget
Several investments and initiatives address key concerns for people living with arthritis
TORONTO, February 27, 2018 – The Arthritis Society applauds the federal government for coming forward with a strong budget that respects the needs of people living with arthritis. Arthritis is Canada’s most prevalent chronic health condition, affecting over 6 million Canadians. It strikes people of every age, from infants to adults, and there is no cure.
With today’s budget, the federal government takes a bold step towards reasserting Canada’s place as a world leader in cutting-edge scientific research. As part of a $4 billion overall commitment to research, the budget sets aside $354.7 million over five years ($90.1 million per year ongoing) to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
After more than a decade of declining research investment, this infusion of research dollars will help develop and retain our brightest young scientific minds, and in turn spur innovation that will help bring forward novel solutions to long-standing issues of personal and public health.
The government is also taking an important step towards creating a national pharmacare strategy by creating an advisory council on implementation – an initiative for which we have been a strong advocate. Pharmacare has the potential to be hugely impactful for Canadians living with chronic disease such as arthritis, where treatment costs can be prohibitive and can last a lifetime.
We welcome this announcement, as well as the appointment of Dr. Eric Hoskins to lead this initiative. Dr. Hoskins is a long-standing proponent of pharmacare, and we believe his experience as former Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care will position him well to engage with the provinces on the design and implementation of a consistent national strategy.
We will continue to advocate strongly to ensure that the pharmacare initiative is driven by patient needs, moves forward in a timely fashion, is supported with adequate resources, and balances affordability with availability of a range of treatment options to meet individual needs.
Today’s announcement also offers exemption from the proposed cannabis excise tax for certain low-THC medical cannabis oils and pharmaceutical products.
While this is good news for many people who rely on these products to help manage their arthritis symptoms, it only partly addresses affordability concerns. The government missed the opportunity to also remove the punitive sales tax on medical cannabis: medical cannabis is the only prescription medication in Canada subjected to sales tax.
We remain hopeful that a portion of the research funding announced today can help address long-standing gaps in our understanding of medical cannabis, and create an evidence base that will give patients and physicians the answers they need to make informed treatment decisions. This would also have the potential to benefit the government’s response to the opioid crisis, another feature of this year’s budget.
While the government brought forward a number of initiatives and funding to address the urgency of the opioid crisis, we had hoped to see a targeted research investment aimed at developing and validating pain management alternatives and making them more available. Hopefully, some of the research conducted under the government’s innovation strategy can help to tackle this intractable problem.
Dr. Siân Bevan, chief science officer, Arthritis Society:
Overall, this budget brings forward many important investments and initiatives that address concerns we have been advocating for on behalf of Canadians living with arthritis. We are pleased to see the government making a concerted effort to put the needs of Canadian patients first.
About The Arthritis Society
The Arthritis Society is a national health charity, fueled by donors and volunteers, with a vision to live in a world where people are free from the devastating effects that arthritis has on lives. Begun in 1948 with one very clear goal – to alleviate the suffering of people crippled by arthritis – that same volunteer-led passion carries on today in communities across Canada. Through the trust and support of our donors and sponsors, the Arthritis Society is Canada’s largest charitable source of investments in cutting-edge arthritis research, proactive advocacy and innovative solutions that will deliver better health outcomes for people affected by arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information and to make a donation, visit arthritis.ca.
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