MPP Sophie Kiwala visits ARC to raise awareness about OHIP+

Kingston and the Islands representative hopes students will take advantage of expanded pharmacare coverage

MPP Sophie Kiwala visited DrugSmart pharmacy in the ARC on Monday.
Photo: 

Liberal MPP Sophie Kiwala visited Queen’s University on Jan. 15 to spread the word about OHIP+, a recent provincial medicare expansion. It’s something she described as “the largest change in pharmacare that has happened in over a generation.” 

Kiwala’s team set up a booth in front of the DrugSmart Pharmacy located in the ARC. In addition to free coffee and snacks, students were invited to discuss the drug plan with Kingston and the Islands' provincial elected official. 

According to a press release provided by Kiwala’s office, the expansion — which came into effect as of Jan. 1 — will provide prescription medication to youth aged 24 and under at no cost. In Kingston specifically, this will enable coverage for upwards of 38,000 young people with the presentation of a prescription and an Ontario health card. 

“We’ve got a large population that this will benefit and it’s important that people know about it,” Kiwala said. “When students are in that vulnerable stage and they have prescriptions for drugs for things like epipens or inhalers or birth control – things that are extremely expensive – and they still want to have that autonomy from their parents, they can have that autonomy.”

“They can manage their own pharmacare on their own and we feel that is very important,” Kiwala added. 

Graphic by Rebecca Frost.

This broadening of OHIP expands coverage to 4,400 different drugs. Despite this extensive list, there are certain prescriptions that remain uncovered, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV)  vaccine and Gardasil. 

Kiwala commented that in the case where a medication is unlisted, students can request that their doctor provide them with a new prescription for a drug that’s on the list. Alternatively, coverage can be requested via the Exceptional Access Program. Students can access an online tool to check if their prescription is on the list.

Kiwala said she hopes students will take advantage of the program. More than alleviating medicinal costs for students in school, she explained it presents benefits for those who have graduated as well.

“Students are going to be graduating and there might be a transition period where they’re waiting for that first job, and there might be a little bit of time where they might not be able to access certain funds,” she said. 

“We are very concerned with that and that is why we chose the 24 year old cut-off. That’s a stage when the unemployment rate can be high and vulnerability can be high as well.” 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.