GreenShield Cares about essential medicines

A woman in a yellow shirt taking a pill and drinking water

Access to essential medicines is a fundamental human right.

While over 97 per cent of Canadians have some form of drug coverage, one million Canadians do not.1 GreenShield Cares’ essential medicines program helps bridge this accessibility divide, ensuring individuals never go without the medication they need.

A woman in a yellow shirt taking a pill and drinking water

How our program helps

From single parents working multiple jobs to keep their family afloat to freelancers working from contract to contract, many Canadians earn just enough to be ineligible for social assistance programs, but not enough to afford vital medications to maintain their health. As a result, these individuals often must choose between paying for their prescription medication or meeting their basic needs, which could lead to poor long-term health outcomes and a lower quality of life.

The inability to afford essential medicines should never be a barrier to good health. The GreenShield Cares' program provides essential medications free of charge to Ontarians without private prescription drug coverage, who are not eligible for assistance from a provincial prescription drug program.

We're focused on increasing access to care

Here’s how GreenShield is helping to advance health equity.

A person taking a pharmaceuticals pill with a glass of water

Essential medicines program launch

The Globe and Mail: Benefits provider GreenShield to offer drug plans for people with no coverage.

A man hugging his daughter while they are at a park

Advancing health equity

Better Health for All: GreenShield’s mission to improve access and equity in health care.

A woman in a green hijab reading an informational pamphlet about her medication

Prescription drug coverage in Ontario

Find out if our free Essential Medicines program is right for you.

It's in our DNA to find a better way

How does GreenShield Cares’ Essential Medicines program work?

Essential medicines are drugs that meet the priority health care needs of a population and are selected based on evidence for clinical efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

GreenShield Cares’ Essential Medicines program provides eligible patients coverage of up to $1,0002 for prescription drugs included in GreenShield’s approved essential medicines list. Developed by members of GreenShield’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, this list is informed by the World Health Organization’s model list of essential medicines and research results affiliated with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto3 These medications are dispensed and delivered by GreenShield Health's digital pharmacy.

Why did GreenShield Cares develop this program?

GreenShield was founded on the belief that all Canadians deserve the opportunities that better health unlocks. As a non-profit health and benefits company, giving back isn’t what we do, it’s who we are. We’re helping to bridge the essential medicines gap by reinvesting our earnings and redeploying our health services to support underserved and equity-seeking communities.

While 97 per cent of Canadians have some form of coverage for essential medicines, one million Canadians do not have prescription drug coverage.1 GreenShield Cares’ Essential Medicines program works alongside public provincial prescription drug programs and private drug plans to ensure everyone is provided access to the prescription drugs they require.

Who qualifies for this program?

To be eligible, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • A resident of Ontario
  • Currently employed
  • Aged 25 to 64
  • Have an income meeting low-income criteria
  • Need or anticipate needing prescription medications to treat a medical condition
  • Not enrolled in any private or employee prescription drug plan
  • Not eligible for prescription drug coverage through a public program
How do I apply?

Check your eligibility here. If eligible, submit your application form to our program specialist via email:

Questions? Please contact our Essential Medicines program specialist between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (ET)

Phone: 519-739-1208 or Toll Free 1-888-348-5188


No out-of-pocket costs.
No co-pays or deductibles.
Free delivery of medications.

We are championing Better Health for All by bridging the gap on essential medicines.

1 The Conference Board of Canada, Understanding the Gap 2.0

2 Details have been changed to protect privacy.

3 Eligible benefits are limited to a maximum of $1,000 per 12 months from enrolment date. This includes the cost of medication and dispensing fees.

4 UnityHealth, CLEAN Meds Study