Update on additional temporary changes to the PSHCP

April 24, 2020

On April 24, 2020, the Government of Canada extended certain temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) put in place on March 24, 2020, and implemented additional temporary changes that remain in effect until non-critical business is authorized to resume or as indicated otherwise.

The temporary changes to the PSHCP affect the following provisions:

  • Emergency Benefit While Travelling
  • Drug Benefit
  • Medical Practitioners Benefit

All other PSHCP provisions and coverage for members and eligible dependants remain the same during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Click here for more information about the temporary changes to the PSHCP.

These temporary changes affect several provisions of the PSHCP and how members can access their benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The temporary measures implemented on March 24, 2020, included a relaxing of the 100-day dispensing limit for maintenance medications, which are taken to manage a chronic or ongoing condition. The adjustment allowed pharmacists to exercise professional discretion to dispense maintenance drugs sooner.

As outlined in our April 1, 2020 update on this temporary change, the measure is at odds with directions from provincial and territorial governments, as well as pharmacists associations and regulators, to limit dispensing of prescription medications to a month’s supply.

As noted by the Government of Canada in their most recent update on the PSHCP temporary measures, provincial and territorial restrictions take precedence over the PSHCP rules. For this reason, the partner organizations involved in administering the PSCHP did not feel it made sense to extend the measure to temporarily relax the 100-day dispensing limit for maintenance medications past its initial end date of April 24, 2020.

Under the PSHCP Drug Benefit, members can still obtain a 100-day supply of prescription medications from pharmacists who are willing to dispense such an amount.

Members with multiple prescriptions that are on different refill schedules are encouraged to speak with their pharmacists to discuss the possibility of coordinating prescription refills. Members are also encouraged to inquire whether prescriptions can be delivered to reduce the number of visits to the pharmacy.

Federal Retirees recognizes that these may not be options for some members. We also realize that these measures do not address the added costs resulting from increased dispensing-fee frequency. We know these issues continue to be important concerns for our members, and they remain top priorities for us.

Over the past few weeks, we have been advocating to all levels of government on your behalf, urging them to implement measures to support older Canadians and vulnerable populations who have been impacted by the prescription dispensing limits. On April 9, 2020, Federal Retirees shared with members that our president, Jean-Guy Soulière, sent a letter to federal, provincial and territorial health and seniors ministers asking them to address the repercussions prescription dispensing limits are having on Canadians, especially our most vulnerable populations. Since then, we have also raised these issues in virtual meetings with the federal seniors minister and her office, as well as the federal health minister’s office.

As more updates on these matters become available, we will share them with members through our regular communication channels. Members are also encouraged to monitor our newsfeed for updates.