Advocacy update: pharmacy fees & critical meetings

We hear you, and we’re fighting for you!

We’ve received many emails and calls from CARP Members expressing concerns over pharmacies limiting prescription refills to a 30-day supply (most prescriptions are usually dispensed in 90-day supplies). While this policy, which has been adopted by provinces and territories across Canada, is intended to protect our supply chain, it also means that some consumers are paying three times the dispensing fee.

The costs to protect our drug supply shouldn’t fall to seniors. Moreover, it puts older adults at risk of having to make additional trips to the drugstore, at a time when we are all being asked to limit these outings wherever possible.

In recent weeks, CARP National, together with many of our Chapters, have sent letters to provincial and territorial governments across Canada urging them to provide immediate relief by covering the full cost of all copayments while the 30-day policy is in place.

Some provinces have already responded and taken action. This is summarized below.

We will continue to put pressure on governments to provide relief by covering the extra fees during these unprecedented times.


No action taken.


The Alberta government temporarily changed its copay structure for seniors and those without private insurance by limiting the copay to 30% up to a maximum of $8 per prescription (previously a maximum of $25).


No action taken.

Update: May 21, 2020: Saskatchewan has lifted the ban, as long as supply levels remain healthy for the drug being requested.


No action taken.

Update: May 8, 2020: Manitoba has committed to lifting the ban next week, as long as supply levels remain healthy for the drug being requested.


Update: June 12, 2020: As of June 15, Ontario is lifting the 30-day limit on prescriptions.

Update: May 14, 2020: Seniors using the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will not be required to pay any co-payment until July 1, 2020 for any prescription of 30+ days that is now being dispensed in installments. In addition, existing and new Trillium Drug Program households can apply for an income reassessment to help reduce the financial burden for families during the outbreak.


No action taken.


The NS government announced it will pay the extra dispensing fees for those covered under the Seniors’ Pharmacare Program and the Family Pharmacare Program. The government will cover the second and third refill dispensing fee for prescriptions typically dispensed for 90 days. The government will also waive the $5.00 prescription copay for clients of the Income Assistance Program and the Low Income Pharmacare for Children Program.

Update: May 19, 2020: Nova Scotia has now lifted the restrictions where supply levels allow.


The NL government announced it would only charge a copayment to recipients of the 65 Plus Plan and the Foundation plan for their initial 30-day prescription fill or refill to offset their costs. The government will cover the second and third refill copayment for prescriptions typically dispensed for 90 days.

Update: May 4, 2020: Over the next two weeks, the 30-day supply recommendation is being eased away from on condition that pharmacists have the supply they need on hand to provide patients with a longer days’ supply; it is important to note that some restrictions may still apply depending on specific drug shortages that occur.


Government lifted the 30-day limit on prescription drugs. Premier Premier Blaine Higgs announced Thursday April 23rd that the decision was sparked by concerns over additional dispensing fees and copayments.


The PEI government announced that provincial pharmacare recipients will only be responsible for the initial copayment on a prescription fill or refill. The government will cover the second and third refill copayment for prescriptions typically dispensed for 90 days.

Meetings with government

CARP has recently spoken with government officials to urge action on critical issues, including financial wellness and health care.

Here are some highlights of these critical conversations:

  • Federal Minister of Seniors, Deb Schulte
    On April 6th, CARP spoke with Federal Minister for Seniors, Deb Schulte. Among the many topics of discussion were RRIF reform and other financial supports for seniors during the pandemic, long-term care and homecare.
  • President of the Treasury Board of Canada, Jean-Yves Duclos
    On April 27th, CARP will be speaking with President Duclos to discuss financial supports for seniors during and after COVID-19.

Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts by email and phone. We relay your messages during these conversations!