July 13, 2023

GreenShield announces program to provide essential medicines to underserved communities

GreenShield announces program to provide essential medicines to underserved communities

TORONTO, ONTARIO - July 13, 2023 - The United Nations has declared that access to essential medicines is a fundamental human right, yet more than one million Canadians do not have prescription drug coverage. This is a devastating problem, leading those without access to financial aid or employer benefits to have to make an impossible choice between prioritizing their health and keeping the lights on.

Today, GreenShield launches a first-of-its-kind program to provide essential medications to low income Canadians without public or private drug coverage. More than 97 per cent of Canadians have some form of coverage for essential medicines, which is why the GreenShield Cares Essential Medicines program is a solution designed to fill the gap for the one million without coverage. The pilot program has started in Ontario in partnership with the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre and the Windsor Essex Community Health Centre, with other locations to follow.

“From single parents working multiple jobs to keep their family afloat to widowed early retirees, working part-time, who no longer have dependent coverage, there is a notable percentage of the population who do not qualify for the provincial or territorial prescription drug benefits plans and whose employer may not offer a private drug plan,” said Ned Pojskic, Vice President of Pharmacy Benefits Management at GreenShield. “This means that a subset of Canadians often must choose between paying for their prescription medication or meeting their basic needs, leading to an overall reduced quality of life.”

GreenShield is uniquely poised to fulfill this need as Canada’s first and only payer-provider. As a ‘payer’, GreenShield has a long history of offering insurance, administering benefits, and paying claims; now, as a ‘provider’, GreenShield is a Canadian healthcare leader delivering programs such as mental health therapy to telemedicine to digital to clinical pharmacy services and more.  For this program, GreenShield Health’s digital pharmacy, The Health Depot, will dispense and deliver essential medicines at no cost. This way, GreenShield can both pay for and provide the solution.

“As a not-for-profit social enterprise, finding a better way to improve access to health care is how we got started,” says President & CEO, Zahid Salman. “Many Canadians are without access to essential medicines due to a lack of affordability, with those from marginalized and/or racialized groups struggling the most. In fact, data indicates that 29 per cent of immigrants reported to not have prescription drug coverage, compared to 17 per cent of non-immigrants; this data is based on what patients currently experience when seeking out medication for themselves*. The GreenShield Cares Essential Medicines program addresses this gap."

Championing for better living is exactly the vision GreenShield was built on. Back in 1957, Windsor, Ontario pharmacist William Wilkinson saw his customers struggling to afford medications. He was struck by one particular mother who chose to fill her child’s prescription instead of her own because she could not afford to pay for both. It was in response to this that Wilkinson founded GreenShield as a not-for-profit, social enterprise with a mission to deliver “better health for all.” Through its social impact brand GreenShield Cares, GreenShield reinvests its earnings and deploy its wholly owned health services to underserved communities.

Much like the United Nations, GreenShield firmly believes that access to essential medicines is a fundamental human right. Focusing on filling the gaps through prioritizing underserved communities is the goal of the Essential Medicines program, and the organization at large, as it champions for better living for all Canadians. Here to demonstrate GreenShield’s execution on its mission is its 2022 Social Impact report that shares how the strategic, tech-supported integration of benefits and healthcare services has taken GreenShield’s client offerings and social impact to the next level. Historically, the company advanced its social mission of championing “better health for all” through the excess of  earnings the business generates. Now, in addition to its longstanding financial contribution, GreenShield can directly deliver care through its provider services to communities in need.

To learn more about GreenShield Care’s Essential Medicines program, visit www.greenshield.ca/en-ca/cares/essential-medicines

For media inquiries:

Sheril Bose


(613) 879-7034


About GreenShield

GreenShield is an integrated health and benefits organization and the first organization in Canada to operate as a payer-provider - offering insurance, administering benefits, and paying claims as a ‘payer’, while offering health services such as mental health, pharmacy, and medical services as a ‘provider’. Integrating both sides of the payer-provider equation enables GreenShield to simplify access to care, remove administrative barriers, and improve health outcomes for its customers.

GreenShield is uniquely structured as a not-for-profit social enterprise that reinvests its earnings and redeploys its services to support underserved Canadian communities via its social impact brand, GreenShield Cares. The company’s overarching goal is to generate $75 million of social impact investments to improve the lives of at least 1 million Canadians by 2025, with a focus on mental and oral health. As the industry’s noble challenger GreenShield continues to innovate, evolving its offerings and services to deepen its purpose of championing better health for all. 


GreenShield means, collectively, Green Shield Canada (GSC), Green Shield Association, and Green Shield Holdings Inc., which is the primary company that houses health services and benefits administration businesses, including Inkblot Therapy, Tranquility, BCH Consultants, NKS Health Canada, The Health Depot Pharmacy, Benecaid, and Computer Workware Inc. Green Shield Holdings Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the not-for-profit Green Shield Association.

*Statistics Canada, Study: Inequities in pharmaceutical access and use