Reply to Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I working 12 hour work days which is fine but some days I don't eat, go to the washroom or even have a drink of water. We as pharmacists advocate healthy lifestyles, but don't always live by it. I believe that during our work day if we do not have time to do these things we are actually putting patients at harm because we need energy to work. Therefore, I believe it's a great idea to give pharmacists at least a 30 minute break to do all of this.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

Yes, they should ban 12 hour shifts and go to 8 or 9 at the most. Breaks and lunch should be mandated. Sick leave should be standardized.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

If pharmacists were required to abide by eating period requirements then most small pharmacies would be required to close for lunch time, since the pharmacist will require an uninterrupted eating period. If a pharmacy in a small town closes for an hour and someone comes out of the emergency room or after a procedure and the pharmacy is closed, they may have no method to obtain necessary pain killers. Employment standards would mandate that even if the pharmacist wanted to interrupt their lunch to fill the prescription for the patient, they couldn't. This would not be an uncommon situation in small towns if pharmacists are required to abide by mandated eating periods.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

The pharmacy doesn’t necessarily have to close for a pharmacist to have breaks. A pharmacist should still be on site, but patients would have to wait 15-30 extra minutes for the pharmacist to finish his/her break. In retail pharmacy, patients are well enough to walk in the store. Nothing in retail pharmacy is so urgent that it can’t wait a 30 minutes (wait times in emerg are much longer). If there was an emergency (such as a person having a seizure in the store etc, the pharmacist would be obligated to respond during breaks under our code of ethics).

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

In todays environment, pharmacies are located at each corner like Tim Hortons. Moreover, different pharmacies will have different lunch breaks so there will always be access to medications. And the other reality is that patients may have to wait a bit during the Pharmacist breaks. Even currently, at busy pharmacies the wait time can be 30-45 minutes or over an hour at Costco. Lastly, there are no medications that I am aware of in the community practice setting that have to be administered stat (waiting an extra 20-30 minutes is not going to have any detrimental clinical effect). This is a no brainer. The benefits afforded by providing a break (mental/physical/basic physiological needs leading to improved concentration during the rest of the shift which should decrease the risk of errors and INCREASE patient safety) clearly outweigh any potential access concerns as there are numerous pharmacies everywhere. A caveat could be made for stores that do not have any other pharmacies nearby (located within an ___ km radius) provided that the pharmacist signs off on an exemption. The access concern for remote pharmacies may effect less then 1% of Pharmacies/Pharmacists and as mentioned above there could be an exemption made for these situations.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

It's great that you're thinking on behalf of patients and their accessibility to medication. But what would happen if a patient comes out of the emergency and the said small town pharmacy is already closed? They'd have to wait until the next day when it opens again. In this case, the patient's treatment would also be delayed and by much more than just an hour. So why not have the pharmacy open 24/7 to improve accessibility? Because it's not practical or feasible. Just like in most busy retail pharmacies in the city where there are constant traffic and interruptions, it's impossible for the pharmacist to finish their meal or eat at all sometimes. When I'm starving and my blood sugar drops, my hands shake, I feel panicked, and I can't think straight. Is it that much to ask to want to eat in peace for the sake of our health and patient safety?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

Agree 100%. Well said

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

Issues about access to medications in small towns can be solved by the increased utilization of remote dispensing pharmacies. There is no reason why all hospitals could not have one located in the lobby or next to the ER. In the big cities, this may not be needed. But in more remote areas any access concerns can be addressed by remote dispensing pharmacies.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 8, 2017

our wages is getting low ...and there is no improvement in our pay stays the same and it does not matter how hard we work . we are happy to serve the public , and we are happy when our liabilities increase because we are responsible people. But we also want to improve and not stand still. This profession is amazing and its good reputation should stay and that is only if we took care of the pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacist wages are getting too low . I suggest a minimum of 40 dollars per hour . Paid break every 5 hours for full 30 min .Paid holiday time . * lots of pressure on pharmacist to do more in less time leading to dispensing errors , So I suggest putting a standard Rx can be check by a pharmacist per hour .

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 5, 2017

It is time to put an end to the deteriorating conditions the staff pharmacists face. I take bathroom breaks hastily while assistants and technicians enjoy a full one hour break. I have no time to eat BUT I am allowed to eat behind the counter while checking prescriptions and answering phone calls. The phone never stops ringing and I am expected to answer patients professionally and take verbals. Salaries are constant while inflation is not. Basic salary will increase and the response of employers: pharmacists are expected to do "More for Less". The public has the College to support their rights but who advocates for the pharmacists? Pharmacists should have a healthy number of Rx's per hour per day per pharmacist so that the market would expand to include more pharmacists! If the corporations are not profitable they close, I do not see any closing, they are actually expanding! If the entire load is thrown on the staff pharmacist, and the moment she/he does a mistake, due to stressful working conditions, she/he is the one to be blamed! Unfortunately, her/his error is not the worst nightmare BUT it is the health of the patient/victim who has been put at RISK and will have no choice but to SUFFER the consequences! OCP and ISMP promote system approach for medication errors so I guess the first and foremost system to be looked at should be the environment where the errors are made, why pharmacists are slipping!? If I am supposed to reason the pharmacotherapy problems, communicate with other HCP's, answer ringing phones, do In & Out 5 mins Flu shots and counsel patients so at least I should have a limit number of prescriptions per shift/hour, a decent washroom break, time to eat, overtime pay and annual salary increases like anyone else in the workplace!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

It is a massive risk to patient safety that pharmacists work without breaks. I have seen pharmacists expected to do 12 hour shifts with no break, and obviously the quality of their work and service suffers. I have seen mistakes made almost exclusively due to fatigue and dwindling concentration. Would you use an airline that didn't allow pilots to rest?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

We should definitively be under the act. We are entitled to every work right under the law. We deserve lunch, breaks and overtime pay.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

All these terms should be applied to our profession, pharmacists wages are going lower and the amount of work is getting higher , it is unbelievable that a pharmacist has to work sometimes for even 16 hrs with no break or overtime pay, It is also unsafe to get him to work that long , if the employer knows he is going to pay more , he Will offer solutions, such as a second Pharmacist to take the second shift , it will create more work and stable wages and better service to the community

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I think that removing these exemptions will impact the safety and quality of patient care positively. Currently when working, I often do not find the time to eat or take a mental break unless time allows it. I think this poses a danger to the public as pharmacists are in a position to impact patient health with the decisions they make. When these same pharmacists are over worked, rushed or tired, it can negatively impact their decision making. I believe removing these exemptions would allow the public to appreciate that pharmacists are people who need to take care of their mental and physical health not just in the context of providing patient care. I understand the implications of this. If eating periods or breaks are implemented, many patients may feel that their time is being wasted if they do not have services provided to them immediately. Additionally, in most cases, much of the services that are provided at a pharmacy are not urgent except in the context of utilizing patients's time. If legally implemented, I think that the removal of these exemptions will benefit both pharmacists and their patients as taking the time to eat or take a break will be respected as a right. Of course, even if legally implemented, many pharmacists will still not take breaks because of how busy they will be but having the option mandated would have a positive impact in my opinion for the reasons stated.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacists should be given the option of taking lunches/breaks in the retail pharmacy setting. Often we work many hours without any break or lunch whatsoever.
Also, sometimes the pharmacy may stay open for stat holidays and the pharmacist is not given any extra pay incentive or a lieu day off to compensate. The advancement of registered pharmacy technicians should allow for the pharmacist to leave the dispensary and sit down to enjoy a lunch or break just like everybody else does. The other option is to close the pharmacy for 1/2 hour in order to allow the pharmacist a much-needed break. Doctor's offices close for a full hour without any negative impact on patient care. Why can't pharmacies do the same?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Over All long hours are a good way to operate the current pharmacy I work in (12 hour shifts) however I believe mandatory breaks (4 x 15 minute breaks in a 12 hour shift should be put in place to ensure pharmacist has had appropriate meal and washroom breaks. Overall well being of the pharmacist will help maintain a clear mind and therefore safety of the public

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I support the positions that pharmacists receive one 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute additional breaks during any shift exceeding 8.5 hours. Additionally, I agree that overtime should be consistent with current labour laws in Ontario (excess of 44 hours per week). Finally, pharmacists should receive mandatory vacation pay equivalent to 4%. Many pharmacy companies voluntarily offer vacation pay. It is my opinion that pharmacists taking the above breaks remain on site unless a lock and leave provision is set up. In order to safely provide professional services on an ongoing basis, it is also my opinion that all pharmacists have allotted periods of rest and refreshment. Doing the right thing will have merits for public safety and one's health considerations. Thank you.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Would either removing or maintaining these exemptions have an impact on access to timely pharmacy care in your community?

Removing the exemptions would not have an impact on timely pharmacy care. Assuming there is a 1 hour lunch for pharmacists, there is no single medication that needs to be started within 1 hour to be effective, which means patients can wait without being medically harmed

Would either removing or maintaining these exemptions have an impact on the quality of pharmacy care patients receive?

Removing exemptions may improve quality of care. An overworked pharmacist is more likely to make mistakes or take shortcuts to manage their workflow. Taking care of the basic well being of pharmacists

Would either removing or maintaining these exemptions have an impact on the safety of pharmacy care in your community?

This question is rather vague and would need more clarification to answer

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacists should be protected by the same labour laws that any other working person is. We are human, and as such, require lunch breaks, bathroom breaks and vacation time. If employees are not protected, companies have and will take advantage of this. Pharmacists will be refused the basic benefits provided to other working adults. More pharmacists are graduating now because of increased enrollment. There are fewer jobs and employers know it. I think that being excluded from the protection of the employment standards act is an invitation for companies to treat pharmacists unfairly.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I believe the hours of work with no options for a break should be removed. This poses significant risk to the public when a pharmacist is unable to take the necessary mental break required in their day. Fatigue and the lack of proper nutrition slow down the analytic thought process. I have worked at pharmacies that scheduled for 1 hour shifts with no relief, you are either eating in the dispensary or not at all. There is no mental rest during the day to ensure you are performing at peak. To borrow from other health professionals such as nursing, they work 12 hour shifts with scheduled breaks and eating periods.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I think it is unsafe to the public for the pharmacist to work 8 hrs without a break. I have worked for over 25 years, the pressure on the pharmacist is increasing with every passing year . Flu shots, other injections, medchecks. 90% of my shifts I work 8 hrs with no break, no time to eat and barely time for a washroom break. I think this definitely puts the public at risk . Quotas for professional services puts the pharmacist under more pressure . I think it should be mandatory for a minimum of 1 paid 15 min break for a 8 hour shift. I do not think it would affect customer service . Pharmacists today are treated inhumanly and we need the support of our college to change this inhuman treatment and expectation to perform under these conditions

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I agree to making workplace more fair for pharmacist

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacists need eating and rest periods and limits on hours worked. It is unsafe for the public to require pharmacists to work 8 hour (and sometimes 14 or 16 hour) shifts without the ability to eat or rest or even go to the bathroom sometimes. I feel the public is not even aware of these unsafe conditions that pharmacists work under. I doubt many members of the public would want a hungry/exhausted pharmacist checking the dose and suitability and accuracy of the product dispensed for themselves or a loved one.
However, there should still be the requirement of a pharmacist on site for all open hours. I feel it would be unsafe to be open and allow patients to self select otc, or purchase btc items, or collect prescriptions without pharmacist consultation available. Even when a regulated technician is on staff, a pharmacist should still be present to complete a therapeutic review and sign off on refill prescriptions before the patient receives the medication. It seems like an option to allow the pharmacist to call a patient later on the phone, but I don't think that would work. It is very challenging to reach people on the phone and pharmacist's time is already stretched too far. Also, a patient should not receive a medication and leave the pharmacy if they are unsure how and when and why they are using the medication. We often don't even have a chance to go to the washroom during a busy shift. As pharmacists, we work very hard to give patients the best possible care, but is the care given by an exhausted/hungry pharmacist at the end of a 16 hour shift or at the end of three back to back 12 hour shifts the same level of care and attention as during reasonable shifts with the same rest periods afforded to most other working Ontarians? I think that this really is a patient safety issue, and that pharmacists save lives on a regular basis. It would be irresponsible for pharmacies to operate without a pharmacist present, but it is also endangering patients when the pharmacist present is exhausted and/or hungry as a result of long work hours without any rest periods.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I will prefer the exemptions and exclusions under empowerment be lifted.

I and most of my colleagues have worked over 4 years for chains pharmacies with no pay raise but work load keeps on increasing and I think this is not fair. Thanks

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

Yes, I completely agree. Over the last 5 or 6 years our profession has undergone a lot of changes (flu shots and most recently, vaccination services; naloxone dispensing: maid; Rx renewals; more documentation for Medschecks). This is great for patients, but while the workload has increased, the support for pharmacists has not. We are doing more work while the work environment has stayed the same. Wages are not increasing as there is such a large supply for pharmacists (particularly within the GTA). As our scope continues to expand, pharmacists will be stretched even more thin, and stress and fatigue due to long hours and lack of breaks may contribute to patient harm

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Without question, pharmacists should be entitled to overtime pay, max hours of work, etc.

Breaks are a bit trickier. You asked us to comment on access, quality and safety.

Safety will be improved, without a doubt, if a pharmacist has even 10 minutes to sit down and eat outside the pharmacy. Right now, pharmacists are over-stressed and over-worked; why are we also keeping them under-fed and dizzy? On more than one occasion, my pharmacy was so busy, I rushed to gobble down my food, and I choked. Many people will focus on safety for patients, but let's not also forget safety for pharmacists!

Access: yes, this will be impacted. Unless a pharmacy has overlap--and many don't--there will temporarily be a delay in care. Is this really a bad thing? Anyone who needs care stat should be at an emergency room, not a pharmacy. Our society expects instant gratification, but this isn't realistic, especially in a health care setting.

Quality: this could go both ways. I think it will improve drastically if the pharmacist has a better frame of mind. However, there will be just as much work to do, with half an hour less to do it in.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Most of the Employment standards are being met voluntarily. I am an employer. I own a small independent pharmacy. I pay my staff for 4% to 8% vacation pay depending on seniority. They are paid statutory holidays and are paid overtime. My non-pharmacist staff are given a 1/2 hour lunch and 2 fifteen minute breaks. The only issue is my staff pharmacists do not get lunch and breaks. As compensation, they are paid a full 8 hours for their shift. My assistants and cashiers are only paid 7 & 1/2 hours for an 8 hour shift as per employment standards. As well, the pharmacists are given much latitude during their shift to eat and snack and sit and use their cell phones to make personal calls and access the internet for personal use during their shift as long as it doesn't interfere with work flow and delay customer service. This has worked well. If employment standards were to be enforced for pharmacists, the pharmacy would have to close during their lunch and break times as per pharmacy regulations. Busy pharmacies may have overlapping pharmacists and or the owner is on the premises to allow this. But we are a small independent with 1 pharmacist on the premises at any particular time. We don't have the work volume to justify overlapping pharmacists or require 2 pharmacists to be on shift at the same time.

Proposal: 1. Amend the pharmacy regulations to allow the pharmacy to remain open during the pharmacist lunch breaks and ask the patient to come back later so that we can still hand out refills and intake prescriptions. 2. Allow a pharmacist of opt out of the lunch break component of the employment standards by legally signing a simple employment contract that permits the pharmacist to continue to work without a break for a straight 8 or 12 hour shift and be remunerated accordingly. The other components of the employment standards act can still be made compulsory. I don't think they are even an issue as most pharmacy owners follow them voluntarily just out of a sense of decency.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Is anyone thinking of possible heart attacks, anxiety due to stress, chocking on food during work time ???????????

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I am deeply concerned if the ESA were to insert a clause that will allow a RPh to opt out of the lunch break component - 'opt out' would enable an employer to legally overwork the RPh and have more power over the RPh in the sense that if they don't 'opt out' of the lunch break, they've probably 'opted out' of a job.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

The problem that I have with the opt out agreement is that it can become a tool for employers to identify pharmacists who are willing to sacrifice their own health for short term gains and be willing to sign such opt out agreements to gain a competitive edge versus more health conscious or real health professionals who would not sign such opt out agreements. Basically, you have a set of pharmacists who are not health conscious and are rewarded for it because when asked during the job interview if they will sign the agreement, they said yes. They get the job while every health conscious pharmacist who answers no is declined for the job. In the end, word gets around and all pharmacists who need a job 'understand' (because they're smart after all) that they have to say yes to the opt out agreement to get the job.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

sir/madam, it was nice to see comment from employer. can you please share your view on minimum wages for pharmacist depending on profession liability and responsibility at different work environment for any pharmacist

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I have often gone through entire shifts of 7-8 hours without eating or taking breaks due to busy workloads. I think it should be mandatory to have these breaks to ensure delivery of high quality patient services and patient safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Many pharmacy chains and owners have taken advantage of the exemptions to force pharmacists to work under increasingly unsafe conditions (working longer hours with less support and increased workload). At times, the work requirements imposed by owners and chains would put a pharmacist at risk of not meeting the standards of practice as set out by the OCP. While an argument will be made that removing the exemptions will be bad for business, it is time to put patient safety at the forefront by requiring pharmacists to work under safer conditions. Please give consideration in advance to the strategies that employers will likely use to recoup the increase cost of wages and safeguard the public against retaliatory measures that further worsen patient safety. The profession is saturated in Ontario, particularly in the larger cities. The lack of demand for pharmacists has put power in the hands of their employers who have increasingly abused it by putting profit ahead of patients. Removing the ESA exemptions and exclusions is a step in the right direction for improving patient safety and care provided by community pharmacists in Ontario.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

By having breaks, it is in public interest as the health (mental & physical) of pharmacist improved & also their focus. I have worked in companies where there was a paid lunch break with overlap that actually allowed you the time to decompress and for company where I was required to work without breaks of any sort in a 13 hour day & know this to be true first hand. Also if the hours per week were reasonable, there would be opportunities for PT employment which would reduce the unemployment level for pharmacists.

Public  ·  Dec. 11, 2017

Compared to the scope of practice in the past, I see pharmacists today working with more tasks and demands, and not being compensated for the service they provide for their patients. Compared to other professions such as engineers, I think minimum wage should be at least $50 coming out of school after the extensive training they receive from school to better provide optimal patient care service for their patients. I think it's sort of ridiculous how low the wage has been for the work that they do. In addition, a 30-minute break being mandatory can help them feel more refreshed during a long day shift and have better interaction with patients and staff when they are not mentally fatigued.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

As 90% of pharmacists essentially function as retail employees/clerks for Big Pharmacy chains/ box stores etc, all employee pharmacists should enjoy all of the privileges that their fellow clerks/cashiers etc enjoy. All exemptions for pharmacists must be removed. The present situation of pharmacists working 12 or 16 hours at a stretch without a meal break or indeed a washroom break is barbaric. It is also very unsafe for the public that OCP is supposed to be concerned about. Big Pharmacy Retail has been exploiting pharmacists for a long time and this must stop now.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

working 12 hour shifts means you only work 3 days a week, this is a luxury alot of other jobs don't have. How many people do you know that have 4 days off/week. How many people slave 16 hour days 5 days a week on bay street and wallstreet or in London (80-100 hour weeks). I agree with some of the points here but people you need to adapt or Amazon will take over all your jobs and income. I work for a chain and I am happy with my Job, I work 12's , 3 or 4 days a week mostly 3. If I want to work more I do relief.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

As a pharmacist for a banner , we , pharmacists require by the company policy to please every customer come to the door , by saying that , we mean we have to take bacon, eggs , soft drink , chips as part of our mandatory job requirements . We spent half of the time to do these transactions because we have a minimal time or technician , and they do not have time to do such . Now , imagine this scenario

Pharmacist : injection line up in red basket Pharmacist : counsel on a new prescription with a customer who has a cartful of bacon , soft drinks , toilet paper , eggs , milk bags etc.... and after counsel on the prescription , ring in the whole cartful of food products .

Pharmacist : get back to a line of injection Pharmacist : answer question where is toilet paper and take customer to show them where the toilet paper are .

And the tasks go on and on with activities much similar like that for the whole shift .

Not counting doctors telephone calls and professional activities .

Time to eat : that is the myth Time to go to the bathroom : lucky if you have 2 min .

Please advocate for the real life of a practicing pharmacists , make a profession a decent job , not sitting in the office and imagine how it SHOULD be done and how it WOULD be done .

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Many pharmacists are providing feedback that they are under extreme stress and that they do not have time to eat or have breaks. I agree with you. However the concept of workload vs. being included in ESA to have break and lunches DO NOT solve this challenge. The workload challenge we have today is stemming from labour model (i.e. allocation of resource against the incoming volume of work). This is fundamentally different concept than ESA, since the only viable option to enforce ESA in pharmacy setting would be to close the pharmacy during each break and lunch. But in pragmatic reality, those volumes would simply be carried over to after the break or lunch and the cycle repeats. Hence, putting specific terms around when and how to eat or have breaks rather than managing on our own is worse than current. But to address the root cause of the inability or difficulty of managing our own lunch and breaks is from the mismatch of operational volume vs. resource. The discussion we need to have on this is how to put standards around Script/Service per Hour per resource and relieve the pressure through easing. If we believe that inclusion to ESA will resolve this challenge, this is an overly simplified thinking to a multidimensional complex problem that involves more than regulation. So please, let's not jeopardize our professionalism on this because I do not believe this is even the right approach in having this conversation.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

It is appropriate to have some excemption but one that must be revised is lunch/break for pharmacists. It is very exhaustive, both mentally and physically, for pharmacists to work without appropriate breaks. It increases risk of errors and ultimately affects the patient care. There should be no compromise with patient safety. I believe that patients can wait half an hour or hour. Many will become used to it once implemented. Physicians take break and have dedicated lunch hours. It is time we do too.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Most pharmacist today in retail are staff pharmacists. I myself work 9 or 10 hours shifts with no breaks no chairs to sit on, i.e. on my feet straight through. I welcome the breaks and overtime pay. All franchise pharmacist if mandated can easily provide such breaks to their staff. Please don't let the major corporations tell you this would cause hardship to the franchisee or affected customer care because it won't. I was once a franchisee myself so I know of what I speak of. Doors would not have to be close, pharmacist would remain on site and patients may need to wait 15 min more for that one small period of the day I could continue but for now I fully agree with putting pharmacists under the ESA

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacist shoul deserve same respect which other healthcare professional receive like doctor, nurses includes breaks, overtime pay, minimum technician support and control on big corporates to force to provide Professional services without providing enough support.

Public  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I agree to making workplace more fair for pharmacists. Every worker should be entitled to a break and a time to eat when working shifts that long.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

In the interest of patient safety, mandatory breaks are necessary. Currently, pharmacists are required to work 8-12 hours with no breaks. In an environment where the pharmacist is required to deal with multiple issues at the same time, pharmacists cannot be tired or burnt out. Since pharmacists made themselves the most "accessible healthcare professional", we have made our profession one of the few, where we have come to be "expected" to care for multiple cases at the same time. This expectation of multi-tasking increases the risk of errors.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

1-Keeping patient safety as a priority , pharmacist s needs break to relax and refresh from the mental work load ... the long hours with no breaks are a main reason for dispensing errors. 2- with almost all the chain pharmacies having 7 days a week , 12-16 hours of work everyday , taking breaks will absolutely not affect patients access to care. Pharmacist and pharmacy service are the most approachable healthcare providers and they will still be after talk 30 mins -1 hr very 8 hours. 3- it’s so sad to find pharmacist wages are very close to pharmacy assistants in the GTA .. to keep the integrity and professionalism of the profession and also to assure a high quality , pharmacists need minimum wages and stat pay regulation to afford them a fair and worthy income

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Please consider removing the exemption for maximum hours worked for Pharmacists. Working 12 hour or longer shifts is not safe - Pharmacists can become tired and overwhelemd and may be more likely to make mistakes with long consecutive hours of work. It is also difficult to achieve work-life balance when working 12 hour days with a young family at home.

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

•Hours of work and eating periods; I believe that pharmacists should work 8 hour shifts, with a lunch, as it will keep their mind fresh and able to do the work. I just personally believe that a 12 hour shift can be very draining mentally and physically. •Overtime pay; I believe over time should be awarded if they have worked more than 44 hours per pay period.

•Would either removing or maintaining these exemptions have an impact on access to timely pharmacy care in your community? Would either removing or maintaining these exemptions have an impact on the quality of pharmacy care patients receive? I do not believe this would impact the care the patients at the pharmacy receive, if anything it would be providing better care, as there would be a new shift starting every 8 hours and having someone mentally and physically ready, instead of being fatigued during a 12 hour shift.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

As a pharmacist who has worked in a variety of practice settings, including community, hospital and non-direct patient care, employment standard exemptions negatively affected my experience and the safety and quality of care provided in the community. In the hospital, I had at least a half-hour break to take care of my human needs. Not so in the community, unless you were lucky to work somewhere where there was overlapping pharmacist coverage, a luxury these days as pharmacies are downsizing their employees at the same time as lengthening their hours, increasing their workload and the complexity of services provided. In terms of access to care, removing exemptions is unlikely to affect this given the number of pharmacies available, expansion to settings outside of the traditional drug store (i.e. within grocery stores) and extended hours. In terms of the quality of patient care provided, removing exemptions is similar to placing an oxygen mask on your face before helping others when cabin pressure drops on an airplane. How can a health care worker expect to provide quality care, including advocating for a healthy lifestyle when forced to work without a break, without a chance to refuel, or sometimes even empty your bladder or change your tampon? Why are health care providers expected to risk their own health at the same time as advocating health for their patients? Giving a community pharmacist even 10 uninterrupted minutes to attend to their physical needs will probably improve the quality of care provided. Finally, concerns related to safety are related to those of quality. If pharmacists are given a physical and mental break there's a good chance that the risk of medication dispensing errors will decrease. Imagine trying to fill a prescription accurately and safely, assessing for appropriateness and drug interactions, while feeling dizzy from hunger! A short, uninterrupted physical/mental break is not just a "nice to have", but necessary to recharge and increase productivity for the rest of the workday. It's similar to running a marathon without water or nutritional supplements, something athletes would never consider, yet we put trusted health care professionals through this very unprofessional grind!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

It is about time the exemptions to the ESA are lifted. Pharmacy practice has changed over the years and now the majority of pharmacists are employees. We have fewer pharmacist owners who could make there own accommodations for breaks. As it stands, pharmacist employees cannot demand reasonable break times and equitable remuneration for work on public holidays. I have always been fairly treated by my employers but everyone needs to be likewise so. Having adequate breaks leads to healthier pharmacists less likely to make a mistakes due to fatigue.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I think the pharmacist is entitled for a lunch break to ensure the pharmacist will be able to provide high level of pharmaceutical are till the end of their shift. Maybe more regulation and details need to be put back n place in term of if pharmacist can leave premises or not, if pharmacist lunch breaks being interrupted for an emergency intervention, definition of an emergency situation, lock and leave option, ensuring continuity of care, posting regular lunch hours along with operating hours on door sign, IVR. May be changing regulations around what pharmacy technician an do during these lunch time may help to ensure the continuity of pharmacy service provision. Minimum wage should not affect pharmacist pay as pharmacist is not getting paid anywhere close to minimum. Working public holidays has to be an optional as currently there is problem filling those holidays with relief pharmacist. More definition is needed around personal emergency leave for pharmacist and also what steps to ensure taken to ensure continuity of care.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Exemptions must be removed as they are not fair for pharmacists. The existing exemptions are preventing pharmacists from enjoying their basic human rights. The existing exemptions are against the principles of human rights. The OCP must work hard to remove these unfair exemptions. The existing exemptions are being abused by employers because they know pharmacists have no union to protect them. Hope these unfair exemptions are removed soon. Thanks

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I do not think these exemptions will have any impact on accessibility, quality or safety to pharmacy care.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

OCP protects the public. Then you should be protecting the public by ensuring the people who provide service to the public (i.e., Pharmacists) are: 1) Not over worked 2) taking MANDATORY breaks from the constant stress of day-to-day dispensing 3) Not afraid to stay home when they're sick in order to prevent the spread of illness to the general public, currently employers threaten employees to ensure they do not call in sick, yes I said threaten. 4) Ensuring that expanded scope of practice means SAFE expanded scope of practice by enabling pharmacists regular RIGHTS that other employees have. 5) Enforcing management to take more of an active role in dispensing and expanded scope of practice during times of need (I.e., flu shot season, lunch times, breaks, cough and cold season etc...)

Including pharmacists into the ESA will not negatively affect business, public safety or pharmacist availability if management starts picking up the slack. Big box stores don't want us included into the ESA as that means management will have to step into the dispensary and relieve pharmacists for breaks or provide pharmacists with overlap meaning more $'s spent. Well, tough, pharmacists are inching closer and closer to being at a tipping point where we all refuse to be abused, taken advantage of, and bullied to violate our code of ethics in order to increase revenues by doing more medreviews, vaccinations, and refills with less-and-less staffing. It's about time we start talking about regular meal breaks which I so desperately support. Reading some of the comments about having an uninterrupted meal time of 1 hr where the pharmacies dispensary is closed will negatively impact patients... I will add this: Pharmacies can avoid this by having lock and leave cupboards, leaving the pharmacy open to sales while the pharmacist is away, accepting prescriptions and having technicians enter, fill, and count rx's so that when the pharmacist returns they are able to catch up on work they missed and counsel patients accordingly. I think the majority of the public would rather have a pharmacist that is not rushing, thinking about how hungry they are or how bad they need to use the restroom while they have 10 flu shots to give out, 10 patients waiting for their rx's ... all this while also calculating methadone dosing/dispensing. These tasks require absolute top-notch mental acuity in order to ensure patient safety, allowing pharmacists to operate with anything less is a disservice to the public. Everyone who has read this far, please support this initiative to provide simple basic rights to our profession and prevent the spread of business-minded pharmacy practice.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Since I got my lisence and worked as a pharmacist, I felt that I am not a human being, I've taking for granted that I have to work with no breaks, doesn't matter what I want, how do I feel, and all that because patient care not to be interrupted. I am not sure why this is not the case when doctor's office close for an hour lunch every day. If patient knows that pharmacists are human being eats , drinks, go to washroom they may respect us more and not take our service for granted. I will be providing better service when my needs are met and I do not need to apologize for going to the washroom. Taking 1/2 an hour break will be good idea to prevent dispensing errors. So many pharmacists get confused and do lots of errors when their blood sugar drop so low when they are working with no break. I hope something will be done for that abuse of pharmacists that's been going on for so long in the profession.

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I have questioned both OCPand ESA with regard to this in the past. Unfortunately, both parties were unable to provide any clear answer. Do the current exemptions apply to Registered Pharmacy Technicians? All of the language that OCP uses in this recent article addresses only Pharmacists. Also, the attached documents with your article only addresses Pharmacists. Additionally, the ESA documents and legislation says Pharmacists. Please provide some clear direction on this matter for Registered Pharmacy Technicians.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

1) Issue of fairness; have the exemptions applied to pharmacy techs, or just pharmacists? Are we not supposed to be professionals regulated by the same college? 2) Issue of fairness; Most retail pharmacists, and all hospital pharmacists, are employees, not owners, and as there is no longer a shortage of pharmacists, but rather an over-supply, there can be no excuse for a pharmacy to be left without a pharmacist, if we were to be given breaks, holidays, vacations, etc. 3) Public safety; a pharmacist not getting a chance to eat their meal(s), nor getting sufficient washroom breaks, will have his/her focus/concentration compromised, thus increasing the potential for error. 4) Public safety; a pharmacist working 12 hours (or more) in a row will become tired, increasing the risk for error. 5) Public safety; a pharmacist not given adequate vacation time, or stat holidays, to rest, will not only become burned-out, but will inevitably seek out better employment, thus taking his/her focus off the current job, and increasing the risk for error. 6) Public safety; a tired, over-worked, frustrated pharmacist will not always be pro-active in completing the day's duties, leaving work for the next shift. This delay can also compromise patient safety in that timely dispensing may not occur (I've seen this happen dozens of times). The bottom line is that ALL health professionals must feel they are treated fairly to ensure their professionalism on the job. Reducing job stress will help maximize public/patient safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Community pharmacy places a huge emphasis on pharmacist accessibility but this translates to constant interruptions, lack of breaks for food or attending to needs like going to the washroom (!). The impact of course depends on pharmacist shifts but ours are twelve hours. Twelve hours potentially without food, drink, or washroom breaks is dangerous when it takes mental and physical capacity to function optimally and remain vigilant about the health of patients who have entrusted dispensing their medications to us. Mandatory closure of the pharmacy for a half hour break within a twelve hour period i don't believe would be an extravagant request and would help ensure we are able to function better in our capacity as health care professionals.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

It seems that most pharmacists agree that mandated breaks to eat and/or use the washroom -- which contributes to our mental and physical health -- would not only be desirable for optimal functioning of the pharmacist but also by extension for optimal patient care. Obviously the ESA mandates breaks for other employees because it recognizes better and safer work occurs when staff are healthier and happier, so why are pharmacists exempted from this? Other health professionals in this country freely take lunches and/or breaks to eat, washroom etc and not only does patient care not suffer but it is expected by patients without complaint. It should also be noted that pharmacists in other countries (with the exception of the US -- who we do not wish to aspire to be like for many reasons) not only close their pharmacies for lunch hours, they also close in the evenings and weekends and patients adapt their schedules accordingly and continue to live in good health. I have been a pharmacist for almost 30 years in Ontario now, and have worked at stores that both offered me paid breaks and stores that did not allow any breaks at all, and I can personally say that I performed better and was much happier (which does impact my interactions with patients!) at those stores where I was allowed to eat and refresh my mind for a short time. It should also be noted that breaks should be even easier to take now with pharmacy technicians having increased abilities and tasks that they are allowed to perform without direct supervision. We all talk about the importance of work-life balance but somehow fail to make the effort to achieve this or allow this for our own selves/pharmacist staff.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

1) The "hours of work" exemption should be removed and a daily and weekly limits on hours implemented. A review of scientific evidence, in conjunction with a consultation of the public and members of the College ought to determine the maximums. 2) The "daily rest periods" exemption should be removed and a daily rest period rule implemented. Scientific evidence has demonstrated the cognitive benefits that rest periods have on concentration and job performance accuracy. 3) The "eating period" exemption should be removed and an entitlement to an eating period implemented. An uninterrupted lunch break... it's a no-brainer.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

In the days when many pharmacist owned their pharmacies perhaps the exemption made sense. But since the charter that allows non pharmacists to own and dictate pharmacy practices, the professional exemption makes less sense. Extreme demands on work flow metrics relegate breaks, lunch and even bathroom necessities as optional since the retail “sale” is all important. In the USA even Walmart closes the pharmacy dept for lunch hour. How can we preach healthy eating and stress reduction when we can rarely practise it ourselves? I strongly believe that we be allowed a scheduled break like every other person working in retail.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacists should be included in the Employment Standards Act- we're human beings and not robots and as such, we should be entitled to regular breaks (for a meal or washroom) as well as, overtime pay. This will enable pharmacists to complete their tasks both accurately and effectively thereby, ensuring patient safety. With expanded scope, we're expected to do more as a community pharmacist whether it be injections, medchecks, smoking cessation etc in addition to, filling and counselling patients on their OTCs or prescription medications. How can these services be safely rendered to patients without adequate rest and nutrition?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I worked a number of years in retail before going to hospital. Working in retail was too hard on me physically and mentally without being entitled to nutrition breaks. I felt it compromised patient safety. On the other hand we are an essential service therefore if our place of practice is open during holidays then we should not be able to opt out of working them as long as the stats are shared equitably between all the pharmacists on staff.
Also most pharmacists are employees. As such they should be entitled to vacation days. There should also be processes created at each place of employment to address sick calls. Working sick also compromises patient safety by spreading illness but also the illness can cloud judgement.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I think that the employment standards that apply to pharmacists should reflect the reality of where today's workplace. Most pharmacists are employees of corporations and should be entitled to the same benefits (breaks, overtime pay, etc) that any other employee is. Pharmacists are being pressured by employers to do more and more with less and less support which compromises patient care. It is time for a change!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Basic needs like nutrition breaks and reasonable shift length should be a standard regardless of the profession. Expecting your health care professional to work more than 8 hours, or go without breaks is ridiculous, and our profession has not only allowed it but made it seem like the expectation. I personally will not work more than 10 hour shifts and always take a 30 minute break. I don't think that the general public would mind waiting if it meant that your health care professional was able to practice at the peak of their performance because they were hydrated and nourished.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I strongly feel that pharmacists should not be exempt from the ESA standards. Throughout my career, my employers have made it mandatory to work long hours ( > 12 hours) without breaks on a regular basis. If pharmacists are tired and over worked, they are more likely to make errors, which compromise patient safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

We need time out to eat especially when Pharmacist is pregnant. As per ocp no food allowed in dispensing. How Pharmacist going to stand in her feet 9-10 hrs shift without eating wth baby in her belly? Also we need atleast 8 hrs break between two shifts. Our brain needs time out. Also must allow emergency leave. I had an incident where I felt helpless due to this law. I had a needle stick injury and I was pregnant. I was not allowed to leave to go emergency until second shift starts or I by myself find a coverage. How can I work in that mental state where I constantly fear of my baby or myself might get infected withHIV. How is it fair to anyone’s mental well being?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacists are one of the only professions where a 15 minute break, lunch break or even a washroom break is not given.

One pharmacist who used to work at the pharmacy I was at often had to work overtime to catch up and the additional pharmacy workload and she suddenly died of a heart attack at only 36. I agree that we should work hard for our patients, but if we are not healthy