Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Broadbent and Andrew Jackson highlight how among its other advantages, a national pharmacare program would prevent workers from being tied to jobs by a need to preserve coverage through work:
On top of the unnecessarily high and rising cost of private insurance, the same parliamentary report reveals that 88 per cent of private insurance plans have co-pays or annual deductibles, which means that drug costs are partly covered out-of-pocket. Further, as employer-sponsored drug plans are generally much better than plans paid for by individuals in terms of drugs covered and co-pays, the evidence also shows that private insurance coverage is well below average for younger and lower-income families.

Good employer plans certainly still exist, notably for full-time permanent employees working in the public sector and for large employers. Most unionized workers have decent coverage. But these kinds of jobs are increasingly difficult to find.
It seems highly probable that the proportion of workers covered by employer drug plans has been falling, and that the quality of these plans is eroding. The labour movement strongly supports a national pharmacare program not just to provide coverage to those who lack it, but also to reduce cost pressures on employers that work against increasing wages at the bargaining table. When companies provide drug plans, they have less income to allocate for wages for their workers.
The introduction of a universal, single-payer, pharmacare system has many good arguments to commend it. One of the most powerful, though least mentioned, is that the current employer-based benefit system is eroding. We should deal with that problem rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. National pharmacare is needed as soon as possible before even more Canadians find themselves lacking the means to afford the drugs they and their families desperately need.
- Michael Hobbes writes about the normalization of white-collar crime in a U.S. economy governed by little more than self-interest. And Duncan Cameron discusses the appeal of Bernie Sanders' message of "not me, us!" in response to the failures of capitalism at its most exploitative.

- Duane Bratt wonders when a large proportion of Alberta's population will start paying attention to the rigged process which saw Jason Kenney assume the helm of the UCP. And David Climenhaga notes that Kenney's government stands out among Canada's provinces in presiding over massive job losses.

- Finally, CBC examines the simple steps to safer communities in designing around pedestrians rather than vehicles. And Oliver Moore reports on a drop in fatalities in Toronto from a lowered speed limit alone.

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