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, how can our patients be?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacist deserve at least half an hour lunch break , that will give pharmacist energy serve the public better , tiredness and lack of energy may resulting more med error and bad service , eventually pharmacist is not a robot , is human being like all other professionals

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I cannot agree more with my pharmacy colleague who wrote: "...Bullied to violate our code of ethics in order to increase revenues by doing more medreviews, vaccinations, and refills with less-and-less staffing..." There is no longer any excuse for short-staffing pharmacies except for more remote locations and very small stores. It is indefensible that big pharmacy chains are reporting record incomes on the backs of exploited pharmacists. Perhaps OCP should look into the putative 'output' from a single pharmacist. What is a reasonable number of prescriptions for a single pharmacist to handle while also giving vaccinations, medreviews and OTC counselling? After all, how long can a pharmacist spend on a medreview when he/she is the only pharmacist, or perhaps even the only staff member, on shift? Where does a pharmacist turn to if forced to compromise our code of ethics? Exemptions to the ESA not only means no rights to basic breaks and sick leave, it can also mean no protection for your hours. There has been a lot of input regarding excessively long shifts and excessive number of hours. The reverse can also be true. You can end up with a short shifts, irregular shifts, and loss of hours as punishment for not meeting quotas. After all, there is no shortage of pharmacists and there is always someone willing to work for less. It is time that pharmacists have basic worker rights. It would definitely improve morale in the workforce, and positively impact the quality and safety of pharmacy care. We are professionals, and should be treated as such.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

As an owner who also works as a Designated Manager at a store I do not own, I realize that it is time for change with regard to employment standards as the current situation can be detrimental to quality patient care.

Among independent employers there seems to be a migration toward contract employment where an hourly rate is paid with no payroll deductions and no provision for accrued vacation pay. The problems with this are as follow:

1) This becomes a disincentive for individual to take regular vacation to "recharge." This can lead to a decline in patient care.

2) I many cases there is no overtime or shift premium paid. These tend to be disincentive for employers to over work individual but in the absence of these perks, pharmacists will tend to work too many hours and possibly burn out...leading to declining patient care.

3) On a larger scale, the lack of reasonable and fair remuneration (vacation pay, overtime, shift premiums) seems to be part of the reason for the proliferation of small pharmacies. At first glance this may seem like a good thing with more practitioners available to the public. The problem is that the pharmacy model in Ontario is based upon volume sales. With lack of volume, pharmacists are working longer hours. Further, there may be "corner cutting" to survive that is not in the best interests of the patient.


There is very little that can be done about the length of shift in the retail environment and legislating breaks is also difficult given the "on demand" nature of the business.

It should however, be mandatory that Designated Managers and pharmacists that work full time hours in a single location be placed on payroll with appropriate deductions and vacation pay accruing. Appropriate premium pay for hours in excess of a defined maximum would prevent abuse of pharmacist employees and lessen the potential burn out. All of the aforementioned and appropriate pay for statutory holidays would provide hard working pharmacist a needed breather and likely improve patient care.

Just my two cents.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

We should definetly get all the terms from this act. I work 13hr shift with no breaks I think to myself sometime that the one who made this exemption that pharmacist doesn't deserve a lunch break or overtime for working long hour must not be a pharmacist otherwise he/she would have known how it feels. I feel Foolish when advising patient to eat on time and take enough rest when I myself don't eat on time while working or not even taking any breaks. I am hoping that we should get all this terms with the law of equality.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

As a pharmacist I work 12 hour shifts, do not eat most of time and do not use the washroom. I also do not get time to sit or concentrate with the phone ringing in my ear and customers at the counter when I'm trying to check a prescription, this is to make me more accessible. It leads to a loss in concentration and dispensing errors. If I work 5 shifts that's 60 hours with no overtime pay. We are employees we should have rights, we are healthcare professionals but not respected! Yet anytime an error occurs the full responsibility lies on our shoulders. We are over worked, under staffed, fatigued, and constantly interrupted. Have you ever been to a doctor's office with the phone constantly ringing and people interrupting the doctor asking questions? But we are expected to provide expert health opinions, check prescriptions safely, give flu shots, conduct med checks, all with interruptions and no breaks or overtime. All for less than $40 an hour because there are 20 equally qualified pharmacists ready to replace us at the snap of a finger.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

There are too many pharmacists and registered technicians licensed per year. As a result, young pharmacists are expected to work 16-hour shift for $38/hour and old pharmacists are fired from their jobs after years of service. As long as there are too many of us, we would not be treated properly.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

The 2000 Employment Standards Act outlines that pharmacists are exempt from various labour regulations, including the lack of regulated rest periods. In addition, pharmacists are also exempt from hours of work regulations. In essence, a pharmacist can work for a period of 14 hours without a break of any kind. Consequently, lack of rest regulations pose major threats to the health of pharmacists. In addition, such lack of regulations can adversely affect patients’ safety. Working long hours without break periods can adversely affect the pharmacist’s mental alertness and can detrimentally impact a patient’s health.

More importantly, not allotting daily breaks for pharmacists constitutes a violation of Article 23 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, which states “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment”. By not allotting rest periods, pharmacists are exposed to non-favourable work conditions that can have detrimental impacts on pharmacists and consequently, the patients.

A small survey conducted on the Canadian Healthcare Network website asked the question of “Should regulators require that pharmacists take breaks to protect patient safety?”. There was an overwhelming response supporting the need to regulated breaks for pharmacists, with 88 percent in favor, 10 percent against and 2 percent responded with not sure. Community pharmacists supporting the need for regulatory break cited many reasons for this need, including the importance of such breaks for patient safety and health of the pharmacists. For example, a community pharmacist indicated that such breaks are important “Both for patient safety and for the health of the pharmacist! I work 11 hours straight through, some days with a quick bite to eat between calls, counseling, and checking prescriptions, plus 1 or 2 bathroom visits. Some days I don't at all. Perhaps if corporate were forced to pay me for the time when I don't take breaks, they might be more likely to promote them”.

While pharmacists are exempt from various labour regulations, being exempt from daily rest period regulations constitutes a major violation for their universal human rights. To protect pharmacists’ human rights and better protect Canadian patients, it is of utter importance to regulate daily break periods for community pharmacists.
Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

In favour of lunch break provided to pharmacists. Also leaves as per national holidays as eligible to other people in Ontario. Further get paid for professional services provided as currently pharmacists are not paid unless you own the store. With changing trends in practice as more responsibilities are being given to pharmacists so should the compensations.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I firmly believe that we should be included into the employment standards act. Our current job structure leads to many not eating food for 12 hours leading to unsafe work practices for patients and an unhealthy lifestyle for pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Retail chains have been running understaffed pharmacies to save every penny on man hours . Pharmacists are assumed to get some free time between the patients to get their meals or personal time however that doest happen any more, pharmacist has to run cash register to do otc price changes . Mandatory breaks is the only way pharmacist can get a personal time which is offered to every other worker in Ontario. We deserve same level of working conditions .

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Unhealthy working conditions is a major issue in community pharmacy nowadays. Forget about food, I have many times really struggled to go to washroom too. Major reason for dispensing errors is extreme workload and unhealthy working conditions in my opinion. How do you expect a human who stands up to 12 hours or sometimes 16 hours straight without eating or resting could function properly ? It is in best interest of public to have pharmacists lunch breaks As it would lead to safe and healthy pharmacist which will lead to less errors and efficient service. If shifts are more than 8 hours then pharmacists should be paid overtime. The reason behind it is to avoid such shifts and if needed 12 hours shift more breaks. Pharmacist job does require more attention and it's not like you are sitting on a chair and working so after certain amount of time your attention decreases and it gets difficult to focus and run around. Definitely I am in favor of making pharmacist working conditions humane. Yes to 30 mins lunch and two 15 mins breaks if 8 hours shift. Overtime after 8 hours and all pharmacists must be paid for every minute they work. Realistic workload and enough assistants coverage according to volume of work.! Yes pharmacists are really keen to do more for their patients but pharmacist doesn't grow extra two hands in flu season and give 20 flu shots on Monday without overlap while doing more than 150 rx and showing customers where is vitamin e cream on shelf and answering a question on phone that why insurance company charged patient more coz experienced assistant called in sick and new assistant doesn't know much about insurance plans and called other assistants but nobody is available. Forget food, Pharmacist did not get time to drink a sip of water that day nor tested for 2 mins in the whole shift.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

We are health care professionals and should be advocating healthy living by example. Working long hours without lunch breaks or breaks is going against this. It is detrimental to our health. Furthermore, this increases medication errors drasrtically. If we are not taking care of ourselves how can we provide the best care to our patients. I definitely believe that there needs to be a change and that that we should fall under the same labour laws as everyone else.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Hours of work and eating periods: Depending on the location and nature (chain, independent, etc) of the pharmacy hours of work could be different for each pharmacist. Pharmacies that are open for 12 hours, it does not make sense to have pharmacist coming in 6 hours per day. Also, it does not make sense to have one pharmacist for 8 hours and other for 4 hours. However, I would suggest having a break. If pharmacist is working for 8 hours then they should have a break for 1 hour (30 minutes lunch + two 15 minutes break). If pharmacist working 12 hours then they should get another 30 minutes break.

Overtime Pay: Since pharmacists are employees they should be allowed for overtime pay. I do not think being part of a noble profession they should be penalized from getting fair wage.

Minimum wage: Pharmacists’ wages have gone down drastically recently. In 2002, average pharmacist rate was $45-50 per hour in GTA. In 2017, pharmacist rate starts from $30/hour in GTA. We assume that overtime wage goes up due to inflation. In our profession, wage has gone down!

I have read reports where dispensing fees of pharmacies are being compared. I often read that if Costco could fill a prescription at $3.89 per prescription and still make a profit then other pharmacies should be able to dispense medications at a lower prescription fee. My argument is if Costco could pay highest rate pharmacist could earn (only being a staff pharmacist) in our profession then I think other companies could afford that as well. In my current company they have pharmacists working for 10-15 years. They have better rate than me; however, workload expectation is the same. Why? Note: They are also afraid that their job is in danger, as new graduates will replace them at a lower rate.

In my case I started working at Costco. Then I joined Long Term Care Pharmacy at a lower rate. I accepted the position because I like the hours of work and the job involved more clinical role. With the government announcement of lowering dispensing fee in Long Term Care I lost my job. When I applied for a new job, the first question in the interview was we can only pay X amount (By the way this is not a small company). Are you interested?

Canadian graduates spent average 8 years in university to get pharmacy degree (4 years for BSc and 4 years for pharmacy). They need to pay off the loan and on top they have to face higher prices for house, food and other daily necessities. With pharmacist wage $30/hour is it worth going into pharmacy?

In conclusion, I think that since pharmacists having more responsibility for their patients they deserve to have a good pay. I think pharmacist wage should start from $60/hour. This will not only help them personally but it will also help them professionally by enhancing their education (PharmD, CGP, CDE, etc).

Vacation with Pay: Pharmacists are key part of our health care system. Getting a good break is important part of pharmacist well being. They deserve to have 3-4 weeks of vacation per year.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

It is unreasonable to expect pharmacists to work all day without breaks. Fatigue and hunger can lead to many errors. We are putting the patient at risk by letting this behaviour continue. In addition to the pressure that the pharmacist now faces to perform extended professional services while receiving lower wages.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

We are dealing with patient’s lives here. Thus to protect the public, we must make sure that pharmacists are not making medications errors due to working long 12 hour shifts AND being short staffed. It pains me to see my patients waiting in line in pain for their narcotics to be filled but I am so short staffed that there is at least a 30minute wait after prioritizing patients’ needs. For my patients, I have skipped lunches and bathroom breaks but I only have 2 hands and 1 brain and can only process prescriptions at a maximum capacity of what 1 person can do. I do not think this is fair for pharmacists nor is it right for patients!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I cannot agree more with my pharmacy colleague who wrote: "...Bullied to violate our code of ethics in order to increase revenues by doing more medreviews, vaccinations, and refills with less-and-less staffing..." There is no longer any excuse for short-staffing pharmacies except for more remote locations and very small stores. It is indefensible that big pharmacy chains are making record profits off the backs of exploited pharmacists. Perhaps OCP should look into the putative 'output' from a single pharmacist. What is a reasonable number of prescriptions for a single pharmacist to handle while also giving vaccinations, medreviews and OTC counselling? After all, how long can a pharmacist spend on a medreview when he/she is the only pharmacist, or perhaps even the only staff member, on shift? Where does a pharmacist turn to if forced to compromise our code of ethics? Exemptions to the ESA not only means no rights to basic breaks, it can also mean no protection for your hours. There has been a lot of input regarding excessively long shifts and excessive number of hours. The reverse can also be true. You can end up with a short shifts, irregular shifts, and loss of hours as punishment for not meeting quotas. After all, there is no shortage of pharmacists and there is always someone willing to work for less. It is time that pharmacists have basic worker rights. It would definitely improve morale in the workforce, and positively impact the quality and safety of pharmacy care. We are professionals and should be treated as such.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I usually work 10 hours a day . I never get break as pharmacist has to be there for Patients all the time. I eat in between and if patient comes, I have to leave in between. I request that please make some rules and regulations to provide break for pharmacist. As well as , pharmacist profession is taken as a granted. Non-professional people and relief agencies have dropped minimum wage level for pharmacist. That's is why , I feel , pharmacist profession is at stake. There should be minimum wage level for pharmacist.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

We as a Pharmacist needs better employment standards. We definitely needs better standards for patient safety. Patient first can only be achieve with better pharmacist working condition which should be healthy and conducive.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I believe that pharmacists should be entitled to the same rights that other employees receive. I have worked in settings where there were no breaks to eat, use the washroom etc.

Pharmacists need these rights to enhance patient safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

There is no reason why pharmacists or any other health professionals should be exempted or subjected to special exclusions under the Employment Standards Act.

For my colleagues and members of the public - there is a link outlining what pharmacists are exempt from:

The pharmacists’ working conditions have gradually deteriorated over the course of the last decade - pharmacist nowadays have to tackle an ever increasing workload and performance expectations, inadequate technician support, wage stagnation and job insecurity.

Once prestigious and respected, the profession of pharmacy has been effectively reduced to a labour force powering immense corporate profits.

Depriving pharmacists from basic rights enjoyed by all other employees does very little to improve public safety. It does, however, reduce the employers’ expenses somewhat and therefore maximizes profits.

It is inappropriate to misrepresent corporate interests as public safety concerns, but hardly surprising, considering the corporate and private sector infiltration into the regulatory structures of the profession.

I fail to see how increased workplace stress and pressure would improve public safety or accessibility to care.

If the college and the government are truly concerned with public safety, they should consider implementing a standard in order to limit the number of prescriptions that can be safely checked and other professional interventions that can be safely performed during a work shift, instead of relieving employers from the responsibility to meet the most basic employment standards and to provide adequate working environment.

All exemptions under ESA should be removed!

After all, a standard is only true to its meaning when universally applied.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

I work 13 hours a day .... it works for me ... I don’t have any issue working long shifts but at the end of the day , we are human , we need break to eat , go to washroom in those 13 hours ... sometime we even forget drinking any fluid as it’s always crazy at work .... may be someone will say , who stops you to drink water , but it’s just gets crazy ... sometime when we get a time to eat , just after a bite , there is someone waiting for you with the question or prescription or something and you have to go and help them .... and it happens couple of time and you are done with the break .... forget about the washroom .... hopefully whoever reads this one , are human and think about the other person as well and make it mandatory to take breaks .. college must step into this one .... sometime we feel like college is not doing anything on any of the matter and just wash their hands by the name of corporate or some short of other excuses . As when we have OCP insepections , they said that they know about all the things but they cannot step in ... now that’s their excuse ...

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

The exemptions must be removed sooner as possible. We don’t get break to eat, no time to drink water and not even time to go for washroom. Does the pharmacist has different anatomy? They are humans, need some help here. Thanks.

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacists should have at least 30 min break during the 8-12 hours shift, it contribute to the well been of the person.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

The Ministry of Labor is violating the act of Human Rights and practicing the highest level of oppression and discrimination by imposing unfair exemptions on pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Dear Minister of Labour, I am contacting you regarding the urgent need for amending the 2000 Employment Standards Act to legislate daily rest periods or breaks for pharmacists.

The 2000 Employment Standards Act outlines that pharmacists are exempt from various labour regulations, including the lack of regulated rest periods. In addition, pharmacists are also exempt from hours of work regulations. In essence, a pharmacist can work for a period of 14 hours without a break of any kind. Consequently, lack of rest regulations pose major threats to the health of pharmacists. In addition, such lack of regulations can adversely affect patients’ safety. Working long hours without break periods can adversely affect the pharmacist’s mental alertness and can detrimentally impact a patient’s health.

More importantly, not allotting daily breaks for pharmacists constitutes a violation of Article 23 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, which states “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment”. By not allotting rest periods, pharmacists are exposed to non-favourable work conditions that can have detrimental impacts on pharmacists and consequently, the patients.

A small survey conducted on the Canadian Healthcare Network website asked the question of “Should regulators require that pharmacists take breaks to protect patient safety?”. There was an overwhelming response supporting the need to regulated breaks for pharmacists, with 88 percent in favor, 10 percent against and 2 percent responded with not sure. Community pharmacists supporting the need for regulatory break cited many reasons for this need, including the importance of such breaks for patient safety and health of the pharmacists. For example, a community pharmacist indicated that such breaks are important “Both for patient safety and for the health of the pharmacist! I work 11 hours straight through, some days with a quick bite to eat between calls, counseling, and checking prescriptions, plus 1 or 2 bathroom visits. Some days I don't at all. Perhaps if corporate were forced to pay me for the time when I don't take breaks, they might be more likely to promote them”.

While pharmacists are exempt from various labour regulations, being exempt from daily rest period regulations constitutes a major violation for their universal human rights. To protect pharmacists’ human rights and better protect Canadian patients, it is of utter importance to regulate daily break periods for community pharmacists.
Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Working long shifts is not safe, working without enough support from pharmacy technicians is not safe, too. We need breaks like everyone else. I agree to making workplace more fair for pharmacist.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

From the perspective of the College's mandate to serve and protect the public interest, here is what I believe their submission should recommend to the Ministry of Labour: 1. Exemptions to the Act which should be completely removed are those regarding overtime pay, minimum wage, and vacation with pay. Lifting these exemptions will in no way affect access, quality, or safety of pharmacy services in communities. These are purely financial issues that are not within the College's mandate to get involved in. Pharmacies already navigate MANY challenging financial issues in the business world and still manage to keep their doors open; these will just be some additional issues they will have to deal with. 2. Public Holidays: For those pharmacies that would not be able to obtain an alternative pharmacist for public holiday shifts, the pharmacy may legally insist that the regular staff pharmacist must work the public holiday. However, in these circumstances, the staff pharmacist should receive their public holiday pay in addition to their hourly pay for that day. The College feels that there are no valid reasons that the staff pharmacist should not benefit financially from the public holiday in lieu of time off. Again, under these circumstances, this is purely a financial issue that is not within the College's mandate to get involved in. 2. Hours of Work and Eating Periods: A pharmacist may not work a shift longer than 12 hours without subsequently having 12 hours off before their next shift. Pharmacists are entitled to 30 minutes of paid personal time per shift to use as they choose, as long as they remain on the premises. The time is paid time to reflect the fact that the pharmacist must interrupt their personal time if a prescription needs to be dispensed for time-sensitive acute issues like pain and allergic reactions. Dispensing chronic medications would not qualify for interrupting the pharmacist's personal time. 3. Personal Emergency Leave: Employers must have a plan for emergency leave coverage in the event that a staff pharmacist must take leave. Just as an emergency room has a second on-call physician for backup, so too must a pharmacy. If this is not feasible in a rural location, then this can be solved by relief agencies having pharmacists who are paid a VERY SIGNIFICANT premium to cover shifts on extremely short notice, anywhere in the province. If the pay is significant enough, there will be a supply of pharmacists to meet the rare demand for this service. This issue is a financial issue the pharmacy must deal with, just like other financial issues they must deal with as a business. Due to the fact that this will be an extremely rare occurrence for any one particular pharmacy, their is no valid financial argument that this will negatively impact access, quality, or safety of pharmacy care in the community. A hospital would never have a system whereby there would not be a doctor or nurse available to cover shifts if a colleague needed personal emergency leave. Pharmacists deserve the same fair treatment.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I am working in a busy pharmacy where there is a no timw to go for break and even washroom.I am totally agree that Pharmacist should have mandatory break so at least they can eat and take rest.It can also affect patient care and less chances of mistakes perticularly when you are in busy pharmacy and working long shift.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Lunch and breaks are needed for 8 hours shift or more. However the implementation needs a thorough review with OCP guidelines. Can the pharmacist leave the pharmacy on breaks? What about going outside for lunch? Do we have to close the pharmacy? Pharmacist wage will be deduct 0.5 hour for lunch just like other people, is that ok?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacist should have a break during there 8 or 12 hours shift. All labour laws should be applied to this profession too, as management is also run by human beings.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacists are Professionals. Just like other members of professionals we have deeper fiduciary duty to care for the public. There is a reason why we were given the privilege of self governing body for this level of accountability. As a professional I do not need ESA to tell me when and how to eat. I can manage my own, and I much rather preserve and uphold our professionalism. All my colleagues who are physicians, lawyers and accountants also do the same. People complain about wages, but that falls under the concept of economics of supply and demand which is a separate issue from ESA standards. Leave Pharmacists out of ESA.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I do not believe the decision to include Pharmacist under ESA or not will impact quality of care nor patient safety, as I am confident that the OCP standard of practice and patient care process is still there to govern the practice standards. Then, we need to then beg the question, how does this impact us as a professional at core? We all need to think about the intent of ESA at its roots and the relationship it governs. It governs the relationship between employers and employees and NOT between professionals and the public. This is another reason why I do not believe including pharmacist would be effective at fundamental paradigm shift in employer and employee relationship. When you weigh both relationships, as a professional I will always stand for my patients over my employer. Secondly, ESA is to govern human rights and not necessarily professional rights. Which means if we are including pharmacists to the mix, it should be extended to all other professionals such as physicians, lawyers, accountants, etc. So, it's all or non for professionals - we cannot select certain professionals only because the work circumstances are different. My vote is, if we are extending ESA to pharmacists, then we must consider extending to other employee professionals. If you are working in an environment where you believe that it doesn't allow you to sufficiently manage your breaks, meals and well being to put patient at harm, we as professionals need to make a choice whether to continue to work in that environment. That choice is ours. All I want to voice is that this is a complex and sophisticated topic that we will need to work through as both governing and professional body and this notion of ESA inclusion or not is not even close to addressing the continuous improvement that we need to provide better care for Canadians. It goes beyond whether or not there is 15 min break or 30 min lunch. Today, I would like to provide my challenge to all fellow pharmacists to think holistically and look beyond the overly simplified question of whether or not pharmacists should be eligible for stats pay or not.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacists should be covered under all aspects of the ESA. It will improve working conditions, ensure workplace fairness, AND improve patient safety. Long hours without breaks is a risk to patient safety.

There are ways to overcome any challenges of lunch breaks. Let's get creative: use lock & leave or have the pharmacist take a 30 min paid lunch break on the premises.

Most of the ESA exemptions (vacation pay etc.) are already offered by most employers. Overtime and lunch breaks are long overdue.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I think we should not be exempt from the Employment Standards Act - we are human beings that require food and bathroom breaks to do our jobs properly. Companies take advantage of the fact that we are exempt from this act to work us to the bone and not allow us the normal things that would allow us to do our work with a better and clearer mind.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I agree with my fellow Pharmacist about time constraints for Breaks at the Pharmacy for eating & washroom. However, As I am working with an Independent Pharmacy working under constant threat by the Customers who always put pressure to hand over the Medications to them in 10 mins flat puts me under lot of stress & duress even if it is 8-10 medications on the RX with so many patient's coming in at the same time as this is a pharmacy within a clinic of 9 doctors and so much to taken care of viz : if the prescribed medication is right for the medical condition indicated, Drug Dose, Sig & Interaction plus Medscheck & other Lifestyle & smoking aspects etc. As otherwise they threaten to complaint to the owner of the pharmacy, who has provided his cell number to many of our customers & it has happened that they call him & in turn he calls & shouts & threaten me of dire consequences. This I think is true with most Pharmacist working with Independent Pharmacies in the GTA region because of over saturation of Pharmacies. So the College should restrict opening of New Independent pharmacies in the GTA region also because of which the Pay, Availibility of Hours for Work, Attitude & Respect by the Employers towards the staff Pharmacist both at the Independent & Chain stores in GTA has gone down considerably. Also Staffing of Pharmacy Technician & clerks is also an issue with Major stores both Independent & chain stores which needs to be taken care of.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacists in the US have shut down for an hour lunch with no problem. I believe that a half an hour break throughout the day would be beneficial in preventing fatigue and reducing errors moving forward. This could either be arranged by a temporary shut-down (i.e. close from 1 to 2) or with an overlapping pharmacist. We are providing a service to the community and the majority of patients do not require services that cannot be scheduled around lunch breaks

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacist are no longer truly self-employed; most work for a salary under an employer (usually a big chain, such as Loblaws, Walmart, or SDM). As such, they should be treated similar to under employed health professionals and be allotted things like mandatory/structured break times, and most importantly, overtime pay. We are no different from other jobs now - we are not like doctors (all are personal corporations and self-employed businesses). Overtime pay is a must, and employers (which are often not pharmacists) MUST be held accountable.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Definitly Pharmacist deserve better environment to work in terms of breaks and pressure from employer for different additional services like, injections, medc-hecks, (and prescribing meds in future). Decrease assistant hrs to help Pharmacist by employer with increase work puts lot of stress to pharmacist. Working under stress prone pharmacist to make mistakes which is not safe for public. Most of the time we do not have lunch breaks. Salaries of pharmacist is getting lower and lower and responsibility and stress level is increasing.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Working in the GTA, the demand of the patients and number of prescription in a pharmacy can be quite intense. Personally, a break for lunch will really be great it gives us the time to recharge and focus on the tasks ahead. "Community pharmacists is the most taxing and exciting of all the undertakings within the profession. No other specialty in pharmacy requires as many demanding physical and mental qualifications as does community pharmacy practice." (Opportunities in pharmacy career) We would appreciate similar amount of break a hospital or industrial pharmacist would receive. Maybe we can examine how other countries with a longer history of pharmacy practice are doing on this front.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I’ve actually fainted at work because I have forgotten to eat. That shouldn’t happen. To have breaks and a lunch covered at my pharmacy, it would force pharmacist overlap. I fully support pharmacist overlap not only for this reason but to achieve med reviews and other expanded services to the quality expected of our regulatory bodies. Also, I don’t understand the exemption to holiday pay. I would love an explanation for that.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

The exemptions for pharmacists under the current Employment Standards Act should absolutely be abolished. Working in big chain stores, I have experienced the worst treatment as unscrupulous employers took full advantage of the fact that they were not required to give me any breaks or pauses for lunch, overtime, and even paid holidays. It made me feel like I was being treated like a non-human, and absolutely is not fair as I am not a robot and need proper breaks and a chance to eat, go to the bathroom and refresh my mind every bit as much as my assistants or the cashiers do. There is absolutely no reason why pharmacists should be exempt. Allowing us fair treatment and breaks doesn’t translate into worse patient outcomes such as breaking in the middle of surgery or making someone wait while they are bleeding out. We are not working in that kind of emergency environment...An employer tried to justify the exemptions to me before by saying that doctors and nurses are also exempt. And when we are dealing with busy stressful periods, we are professionals and know when it is not appropriate to take breaks. And also, many of the exempted professionals do still get breaks or work for themselves or in their own practices where they can decide if and when they take a break. But pharmacists in many cases in big box stores have to swipe in and swipe out on the time clock just like everyone else at the start and end of shift. We’re just expected to be “on” at all times during the shift. And in our industry, there are many, many employers who take full advantage of that. We should be protected from this abuse. For our sanity and health, for patient safety to reduce the likelihood of us making mistakes, and for equal rights, we should absolutely not be exempt from these employment standards.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

You wouldn’t want your nurse to be fatigued, hungry, thirsty, stressed out.

Nor would you want that from your surgeon or family physician.

Or a pilot.

You want a system to be optimized for long term sustainability, not maximized to a breaking point for most of the time.

The strategy of burn and churn is not going to improve medication errors.

It’s only when we actually start to value ourselves, we will truly value our patients.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017


Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

It is certainly time for a change - a change that will distinguish the PROFESSION of pharmacy from the BUSINESS of pharmacy. We need to have the exemptions removed in order for change to occur and for the public and corporate administration to understand our needs. Frankly, I am quite tired of being "the most accessible health care professional" - this basically translates to being available to the ever-consuming public every minute of your working shift. We have all heard the comments..."What? I have to wait 15 minutes for a flu shot? " etc. etc. I honestly think that the general public has no idea that we, in retail pharmacy, do not get breaks or lunches. I have had so many customers comment: "Eating again? haha.." while I stuff a half-sandwich in my mouth as I am standing at my terminal, checking prescriptions, and a methadone client waits for his dose and the assistant tells me there are 2 flu shots waiting.. yep, that's right - I don't get a lunch break. Will public safety be compromised? - no way. Timely care? - not affected Quality of pharmacy care? - improved, most likely. Time for a change.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Having read the feedback of fellow colleagues, I find it overwhelmingly clear that pharmacists are actually human beings that do require basic work rights that must be legislatively protected. It is unbelievable that pharmacists have even been exempted for so long! It is also unbelievable that only some employers recognize their employees are humans (for a few years now) and shut down for lunch, as an example, where others are just realizing that it’s actually ok for employees to eat or take a break without any real impact to the bottom line. I think most pharmacists are a quiet, selfless bunch that are highly dedicated to providing quality care and services to their patients. To those that work in a community setting...let me ask... are there any pharmacists out there who have never suffered from mental stress, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, circulatory problems, metabolic issues, leg tiredness and/or hunger....maybe attributed to the job? How ironic that we counsel our patients yet suffer from the same ailments! Employers can say it’s ok to take a break, eat your lunch and find time to go to a bathroom but until they tell their customers in their stores that it’s ok...that they value the health and wealth of their employees...then it really isn’t. Pharmacists shouldn’t have to bare the brunt or feel guilty to explain why they need to eat or take a break. They already have the expectation to do more and more with less and less (never mind the compensation issue). I challenge these employers to not wait until ESA forces the issue. Our legislative and lobbying bodies need to address and support their members in educating the public about why pharmacists need to ‘take a break’ in order to protect them. Being the most trusted and accessible, I’m sure the public would agree that pharmacists are actually humans too.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacists should get a 30 minute break after 5 hours of work for a 8 hour shift. This will help ensure that pharmacist's physical and mental state is well, which will in turn ensure patient safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I work in a hospital, which supposed to entitle employee to have a total of 1hr break (0.5hr was paid & the other 0.5hr without paid), and it's so busy (either with clinical duties or addition meetings) that usually we ended up not taking the full break or stay behind with no overtime pay nor time-in-lieu. I think all these terms under the ministry of labour act should be applied to us, to avoid some of us are being taken advantage of, because we were told being in the pharmacy professional those bylaws installed for others to ensure safety & well-being not applied to us.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I've worked my share of 12 to 16 hour shifts, without break, filling 200-400 prescriptions. There's no way that I did not make any mistakes during those shifts. Luckily I've not killed anyone I know of, but it could be only a matter of time. What is the current stats on pharmacy rate of errors? 1 in 10 Rx's is filled incorrectly? Well these ridiculous shifts without breaks probably have some implication.

I don't think allowing pharmacists to have breaks will impact care. Many/most physician offices are closed for breaks. Hospital staff all get breaks, including ER staff. Why would a 30-60 min max wait at a pharmacy be a problem? I can't imagine what could be so urgent that a patient can't wait for 30 to 60 min. It may not be convenient for the patient's who arrive during a pharmacist's break, but at least they'll later have a refreshed pharmacist looking at their Rx who is less likely to make mistakes.

Having breaks for pharmacists may make the employer's job a little more interesting, but they will deal. Grocery store pharmacies mostly have barriers that can be put up during breaks to close the pharmacy while the grocery stores continues operation. For pharmacies that don't have barriers, maybe the pharmacist could stay on site, eat and rest in the back uninterrupted and the pharmacy stays open and the tech can run things to their limits.

The exception for pharmacists from the employment standards act should be removed. I'm a little disappointed that it is the government who starting this ball rolling, and not our own college but I am glad it is being assessed, finally. Overworked, hungry and tired pharmacists are danger to their community.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

We have 12 hrs shifts Which is fine but v at least deserve some break fr eating or even breathing As we get swamped with work to the extent that v dont even get to breathe (forget about eating) and most of the times eating is on the go We dont even get to go to washroom on time sometimes

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I believe that pharmacist should be entitled to breaks just as all other professions are. Since the beginning of flu shot season, all my shifts included running around in the pharmacy from phone to patient questions to giving injections to checking rxs. My shifts include no food break, no washroom breaks and I barely even drink water. By the end of the shift I'm just too mentally exhausted to be able to comprehend another rx. I believe we should get at least one 30 min break. I know this may not be possible in some pharmacies but the break can be in the counselling room or in the back room (still near the pharmacy) and we can interrupt it to answer important or urgent questions but not to check rxs or anything else. And the minimum wage issue needs to be addressed as well, the wages are going down while the work load goes up. It's not fair how newer grads are being offered less while they are doing the same exact work as the older pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I am in favour of removing the exemptions. I used to work some 12 hour shifts. Even in my 30's, I found that I worked at about 50% efficiency by 6pm after a busy 9hours in a retail setting by myself. At that time, billings to third parties were done by hand and it was all I could do to try and finish the paperwork and fill all prescriptions by 9pm. Afterwards I had to drive home to another city. One morning driving to work I almost was hit by a train. I was so tired that I never saw it approaching. Thanks goodness the train was slow-moving and the conductor blew the whistle. Pharmacists need breaks and lunch to rejuvenate. It is too easy to make a mistake when you're tired and hungry.
There should also be limits on hours worked.Some pharmacists work 14 hour shifts and then drive long distances home afterwards. This is ridiculous and a major safety concern. It is time for pharmacists to be treated with some respect in regard to working conditions and expectations. I also feel that an assistant or technician should always be working with a pharmacist. If a pharmacist is working by himself, how can he complete a useful med check, do the injections and answer phones with no help. Employers seem to take major advantage of employees who work as hard as they can. This is like waiting for a disaster to happen. It's just a matter of time.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

I think it is the best idea ever to have an uninterrupted lunch period for 30 minutes and that shift is no more than 10 hours. Minimum wage is really important for pharmacist it should be minimum 42 dollars. Too much presure on the pharmacist now days can lead to errors and less time to communicate with patients

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Pharmacists do not get breaks or lunches and are often expected to work in excess of 12 hours per day. We also have to work short-handed to accommodate the breaks of our staff. This puts patient safety at risk, especially due to the increased workload placed upon us. It is also putting our health at risk, especially long-term. It is about time someone looked at Employment Standards for our profession. Patients expect to wait hours in doctors offices and hospitals. There is no reason why they can't wait 15- 30 minutes at a pharmacy for the pharmacist to have a needed break.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

As far as I know some organizations (Costco for example) maintain standards of no more than 8 hour shift and lunch/eating breaks. It is only possible if more than one pharmacist is on duty. In small towns when you only have one pharmacy open and one pharmacist on it will cause service interruptions. Changes have to be carefully considered so that it does not affect the Public in negative way. Small town/rural pharmacies have to be made an exception. Pharmacists in remote locations have to be compensated for no breakes or long shifts.

Applicant  ·  Nov. 18, 2017

Similar to how truck drivers and other positions require mandated breaks to prevent crashes, error making, etc., pharmacist should be provided with a mandated break time to help prevent errors from getting through a swiss cheese model just because they were tired or couldn't eat lunch since they were the only pharmacist on duty from 9-9.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

Long hours of working in standing possition without break plus in between of schedule to add another shift by corporate pressure has creating adverse health and life concequences.pharmacist must include in labour.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

All exemptions can be lifted without compromising patient care, except that lunch breaks should remain flexible and negotiable. Pharmacists must remain on the premises regardless (and therefore should be paid). In the case of rural or one pharmacist pharmacies, patient care should come first at all times and availability of the pharmacist is important. Leave the lunch break decision as a choice for an individual pharmacist to make in the interests of their patients and their workflow. This exemption was put in place for a reason (we are needed professionals) and the original reasons have not changed.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I have always thought of myself as a health care professional, and as such we are self regulated. We should be exempt just like a doctor. Do what's needed for the best health outcome of the patient.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

Pharmacist are humans. we need to rest and eat properly in order to function properly. currently, working 8-16 hour shifts without rest or meal breaks is putting our ability to serve patients at risk. We have to take breaks and holidays and work only reasonable hours like every other health professional in Ontario. All doctors and hospitals offices take lunch break why can't we?

We cannot let pharmacy technicians dispense refills while we are on brake. The pharmacist has to verify the Therapeutic aspects of each refill BEFORE it is dispensed, not 30 minutes later after s/he returns from break and the patient is gone and probably discover a therapeutic issue!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I believe pharmacist like any other profession should be included in the ESA. Although, in certain conditions like rural areas or small pharmacies it is easier to eat, drink and use the toilet and pharmacist would not be required breaks. But in big corporations, there is a necessity to include breaks. In other professions such as firefighters, police officers, they are never alone - and breaks can occur, even though they are also not allowed. Therefore, in big corporations, yes, pharmacist should have inclusion in the ESA.
Therefore, I believe it is not black and white, there is a grey area that should be imposed. I believe the patient is at first, always, and that is why ESA would allow for a better service provided to the patient. Include pharmacist in the ESA and make some exceptions.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

throughout my 15 years of working as a full time pharmacist , exemption of employment standards has negatively affected me both mentally and physically. We keep reminding the public to take care of themselves ...We are PEOPLE too. how about a decent break so we can eat something without swallowing whole, having a washroom break and just a couple of minute to get some fresh air . I believe having a break ( 30 minutes) will protect the public as well since pharmacists will be less prone to making errors. We are living in a civilized world yet the way we are treated as pharmacist at times seems so uncivilized and unethical.
Added to not being respected , we are constantly given more responsibilities such as providing flu shots,etc without any compensation or wage increase? How is this just? Eating (with chewing) and going to washroom and getting some fresh air are BASIC human needs.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I Think pharmacist have to have meal break in order to function properly . And a minimum wage should be set by college protect patients safety there should be a guilline about the umber of pharmacist needed per shift based on prescription count.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I believe that some of these exemptions should be removed. Pharmacists should be eligible for breaks and time for lunch, even if they need to remain on-site. Time for a mental break during the day is essential. Overtime and statutory holiday pay should be in line with regular labour code practices. This might make it easier to recruit pharmacists for difficult-to-fill shifts.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I think that many of the current exemptions could continue to be applied. However, it is inhuman to exclude limits on hours of work and meal breaks etc from the regulations governing Pharmacists. We are quite prepared to work hard, but no break, and long hours without adequate sleep etc puts the public at risk. How does this fit with the mandate of the College? As an aside, My employer will not even allow a drink to be taken while employees are at the work station, so when I am thirsty, "patient care" suffers in favour of MY care. No-one needs 24 hour access to anybody, let alone to every single healthcare professional. There will always be Pharmacists who can provide care at all hours of the day, just as one Pharmacist's refusal to dispense certain medicines due to their beliefs does not preclude any patient from other access to that same medicine. Fair working conditions should not even be a point of discussion in this day and age.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

Sorry, I want to add to what I have just submitted:

To address the specific OCP key issues of access, quality and safety:

Access: pharmacies are open for very long hours. Public access wouldn't be affected too much with a few minute breaks. Otherwise, provide pharmacists overlap.

Quality and safety of our services: Currently both quality of our services and the patient safety are jeopardized when pharmacists are expected to work very long shifts without any meal or rest breaks.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I definitely support that labor laws should be applied to pharmacists and this means that pharmacists should receive at least a 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute additional breaks during any shift exceeding 8 hrs. If the shift extends to 12, 14 or 16 hours , then additional meal or break times should be provided. I also agree that overtime should be consistent with current labor laws in Ontario (excess of 44 hours per week). Finally, pharmacists should receive mandatory vacation pay equivalent to 4%. Sick days should also be a benefit available to pharmacists. There are also a lot of contract pharmacists who are not well protected under present laws. If they are offered a scheduled work which is yanked from them at the last minute, they get nothing as compensation. If the contractors work on a holiday, they don't get any holiday pay. No matter how many hours they work in a week, they never get paid overtime. So, contract work abuse is a real issue in pharmacy. That's how owners and chains abuse the system for their own advantage .

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I wanted to add a comment that the opt out agreements for lunch and breaks while voluntary in nature as lomg as there's an agreement between employer and pharmacists and in fact , most of these voluntary agreements that are mentioned in the Bill 148 for pharmacists, can be used in some way as a screening tool for hiring by employers. While I understand the reason behind some of those agreements, I really don't like the fact that they can be used as a discriminatory toll in the hiring process . eg. Employer (chain) during interview : Are u willing to sign the opt out agreement because our location in the small town has no backup whil u're at lunch and we have no intention to close the pharmacy while you're at lunch or on break . Candiate : Nope, Result, Declined for job. Candidate : Yes, Result : Hired If those voluntary agreements are not legislated properly, it becomes too easy for the employers to filter out candidates who don't agree to the voluntary agreements. I would like this possibility to be looked at more closely.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I really believe that the opt out agreements will result in a huge loophole that the employers will abuse and make all this legislation futile unless we address whether the employers can use that tool to coerce future hires or even present employees to sign the agreements in order to be hired or preserve their jobs.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

I fully agree with the above comments. There is absolutely no doubt that if "opt out" agreements are allowed under the law, they will end up being the industry standard and nothing will change in terms of improving patient safety. Opt out clauses must be made illegal or this exercise is all for naught.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

Pharmacists definitely should not be exempted under the act. We should legally be entitled to a lunch, breaks, overtime pay, paid vacation, public holidays etc. Just like the other workers that most of us work alongside. We are human and are entitled to be treated as such.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

The practice of pharmacy has changed drastically over the years not as much for what we do, but for who we work for. The majority of retail pharmacists are employees, and not owners of the places they practice in. The greater number of retail pharmacies are no longer privately owned, but are run by large corporations. Operational decisions and directions are made by upper management, that are not pharmacists or even other health professionals.
Longer pharmacy operational hours, expansion of pharmacy services and reduction of support staffing have all contributed to increased duties, responsibilities and stress. So it seems completely out of step that pharmacists are not protected under the ESA while all the other employees in the retail establishment are.
Constant interruptions, additional duties, long shifts without any meal, rest or bathroom breaks all can be contributing factors in medical errors. But of course most of these medical errors get blamed on the pharmacist that missed capturing it. That doesn’t matter since your stores malpractice insurance will cover you any costs will be recovered from your own mandatory malpractice insurance. The prospect of registered pharmacy technicians being able to take over some tasks and responsibilities may be the panacea for our problems, but this appears to be an unfulfilled promise. We have yet to see their employment numbers increase in the majority of retail settings. These folks earn higher hourly rates. Do you suspect that those corporate folks having tighter reigns over pharmacy staffing funds have any influence upon this? Quantity vs. Quality The metrics pharmacists are measured by are how many prescriptions, flu shots, medication reviews, customer positive reviews and pharmacist interventions are performed during their shifts. You notice the length of the shifts, number of meal or rest breaks, number of dispensing errors or close calls, number of OTC questions, number of other interruptions and pharmacist work satisfaction are metrics that never get tracked. The question to ask is why? Unfortunately I think we all know this answer. It appears that pharmacists have lost control of their profession. At least having protection under the ESA will restore some civility to an eroding profession.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I have been a pharmacist practicing in a community setting full time in Ontario for 39 years. I have discouraged my children from following the same path. I love my profession. I love my patients. I love my students. Having said that, I don't know how I have lasted this long. Sheer necessity is the only answer. I have constant digestive issues due to not eating properly. I am sure the Poise pads will be next if not kidney stones. When I work long hours without so much as sitting for a moment, I worry about my patients. Are they really getting the best care? Am i focused enough to really listen and respond to them when I am exhausted or hungry? What if something goes wrong because I am not able to be the best? How can I advocate a healthy lifestyle when I don't live one? I come to work sick. How can put out another pharmacist who was hoping for a day off? When my child was sick, I finished my shift first. On a personal level, I have no idea what a long weekend looks like. It is just work as usual. As for holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or New Years, my family can't count on me. My time as a pharmacist is coming to an end. I have been lucky to be content in my most recent location. But, do I feel like a Professional? Not so much at times. I hope it changes.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I strongly believe that pharmacists should be covered under the act with all the rights, including lunch break, rest breaks, overtime pay. The current situation, where pharmacists are required to work long hours without breaks is a danger to the public as pharmacists need to make very important decisions on an ongoing basis and the impact of errors due to fatigue can be very severe for the patient. In many situations pharmacists are required to work weekends and statutory holidays without the necessary days off for a healthy work-life balance; I think that pharmacists should be given two consecutive days off to compensate for the weekend days worked. Thank you.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

Pharmacy practice is increasingly getting stressful and there is more pressure on Pharmacists to deliver more services and to be more productive. I just have some concerns regarding future of our profession: 1- we want to have rest time and break that is fair but then at that time the dispensary can not remain open. in this case corporations that invest in drug store business would look to save the loss and soon we are going to have some kind of internet or remote operating pharmacies. so there would be job loss and lost opportunity for our profession. 2- if pharmacist takes 1/2-1 hour break time, then pharmacy manager or owner needs to stay or come back to give break to the pharmacist. i am not sure if they want to do that, so what they do they cut Pharmacist's hours to the hours so pharmacist is not entitled to the break. again job loss. 3- i agree with minimum wages and holiday pay as hard working pharmacists deserve better and fair treatment.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I work 16 hours straight shift on Saturdays and Sundays in alternative weekend ( 8 am to 12 midnight for consecutive 2 days) . It is very difficult to manage at the end of day but nothing to do. And no assistant help after 8 or 9 pm on the weekdays and after 5 or 7 pm on weekends. Mistake happens when someone is overworked, tired or exhausted due to long long busy hours of standing work and overall lack of Pharmacy Assistants support. Also targets for professional services puts the pharmacist under tremendous mental pressure and sometimes become stressful to manage the quotas. It seems Pharmacist are always under pressure from Associate owner, Pharmacy Managers and so on. So far I know Pharmacist in Walmart Pharmacy gets 30 minutes lunch break and it has been highly appreciated for everyone. There is a notice board in Walmart Pharmacy for the lunch break time for Pharmacist . I don't work in Walmart but I have respect for Walmart corporate policy. If they can do then other Pharmacy can at least try to do that. Pharmacists need a fair environment to work with so that Pharmacists can give their best service to their patients. I am very hopeful that there will be some changes very soon which will make the workplace more safe for the Pharmacist and patients.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

Will lock and leave procedures or pharmacy's be required to close while pharmacist's take their breaks to ensure they are not interrupted for OTC & Rx counselling?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

I absolutely agree with taking the ESA exemption away from pharmacists, having minimum wage for pharmacists put in and being paid overtime after working 44 hours as well as having minimum hours in between shifts. I have worked both community and hospital pharmacy settings and know that without having the required uninterrupted mental and nutritional break is very unsafe for the public because the chances for errors increased dramatically when tired and hungry or need to go to the washroom.

Working in a hospital environment where we are currently expected to work an 8 hour evenung shift and be expected to work a subsequent morning shift 9 hours later because we are exempted from ESA really puts the public safety at risk. Imagine every day hospital pharmacist clinical services such as adjusting warfarin based on INR, adjusting Vancomycin doses, and adjusting renal doses etc all under the condition of not having sufficient time to go home and get enough sleep. We are in a profession where our errors can lead to fatal mistakes yet we are expected to work under conditions where we are not getting enough breaks or enough sleep.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 19, 2017

The duties and responsibilities of pharmacists are continually increasing and yet our wages/salary are decreasing more each year. I have seen relief pharmacists get paid almost the same as pharmacy assistants. Problem is..there is an increase number of pharmacy students being admitted each year and we are continually accepting more international pharmacists. Yes, there should be a minimum wage for pharmacists so pharmacies (esp big chains) can stop trying to take advantage of the market and lowball our wages.

The college needs to understand that for most pharmacies, pharmacists are being overworked to the max - no breaks and always short-staffed. Patient safety is a huge concern and yet companies don't care because it is not their license on the line. If anything happens, they can just point the finger to the pharmacist. Dispensing prescriptions (ensuring patients are getting correct meds, checking for interactions, contacting other healthcare professionals, clarifying Rxs) for 8-12 hours/day is mentally exhausting...I'm shocked that we are not allowed any breaks when other healthcare professionals such as physicians and nurses have that right. I understand that the concern is patients may not have timely access to their meds if we go on breaks...however, when they see their doctors, they can wait for hours and yet they can't wait half an hour at the pharmacy to get their meds?

For the past few years, pharmacists' responsibilities have grown tremendously, and companies are expecting us to do MedsChecks, flu shots, run clinics, cash out groceries, OTC counselling, and dispensary/counselling with less and less staffing. I am not surprised if drug errors are happening more often. There should be some sort of mandatory minimum number of staffing hours required in the dispensary for big chains.

This profession is becoming a joke, and we have allowed this to happen due to too many pharmacists desperately needing jobs.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

It is absolutely a risk to patient safety for pharmacists to work without at least a meal break. We did not need this legally guaranteed back in the days of pharmacist overlap and good support staff. The current demands on a retail pharmacist during any given workday are very stressful. Our 'professional advocates' highlight our expanded services, our accessibility, and continue to push for our profession to do more to ease the burden on a strained healthcare system. Meanwhile in the workplace pharmacists have also become cashiers,receptionists,personal shoppers,shelf-stockers as well as providing meds checks, flu shots, diabetes specialists and of course filling prescriptions. We find ourselves working alone or with 1 assistant for 8 hours or more and we cannot get to the washroom or have a bite to eat. This creates stress,fatigue,headaches,nausea and ultimately affects concentration and judgement. This is having a direct impact on patient safety, contributing to errors. Does the public realize the pharmacist filing their prescription at 10pm has not eaten since breakfast? We can't control our workflow by appointments, we are not given time for basic personal needs in the workplace. We are burning out and our trusted professional image and patient care are suffering.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

The current system has been in place and functioning well for years For any change to be implemented it will require an overall revision of the whole process of operating a pharmacy

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

There is no way a decent human being can assess that the present system has been functioning well when you have so many professionals complaining about it. Anybody who is willing to close an eye to the inhuman situation that has been created by the legislation is a willing participant and should be ashame to call themselves a health professional.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Reading comment by my colleagues I fully endorse the following previously made statements: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. 20, 2017

Exempting pharmacists from ESA rules may have made sense at a time when most pharmacists were pharmacy owners or were at least provided a modicum of autonomy in navigating their day. Unfortunately, the pharmacy landscape has turned into an oligopoly with a few retail behemoths controlling the marketplace. So today, when the vast majority of pharmacists are essentially retail workers, we are in desperate need of of the protections that the ESA provides. The ESA exemptions have allowed companies to reduce staffing to unsafe levels, endangering public safety in the process.

First of all, pharmacists must have a meal break. It is farcical that this has not been done already. I personally work 12 hour days without a meal or bathroom break. As a result, I am often filling and dispensing prescriptions whilst suffering from hypoglycemia. I know that this is unsafe, and have spoken with my superiors about my concerns, only to be told that pharmacists are not legally entitled to meal breaks and that I'll just have to deal with it. The ESA exemptions have allowed employers to shirk responsibility and left pharmacists with no recourse. I am grateful that I have not made a major dispensing error yet, but this is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Most employee pharmacists are already provided with vacation pay, pay for public holidays, and have access to emergency personal leave. So there is no reason why these requirements shouldn't be crystallized in law. By bringing in requirements for overtime pay, we can ensure that companies are hiring enough pharmacists to handle the workload, since the pay premium will ensure that they are not overburdening their existing employees. If we require meal breaks for pharmacists, employers will either arrange for pharmacist overlap or the dispensary will be closed for a mere half hour (like most physician / dental / chiropractor offices do).

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

As a self regulated health care profession I can see of no reason to change our current status. As a long time pharmacist, I know I would not stop and tell a patient to come back after lunch, or a break, when they need their medication now. We do not need this change to our status, and to all pharmacists that want to be thought of as just a general worker in the field, they should have not have become a health care provider.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

In this present pharmacy environment, we have become general labour. We aren't self-regulated the way that other professions are anymore, and thus have no power to decide these things for ourselves. Thus, we need the government to stand in and ensure these basic rights. It's the only way. And your argument is not relevant to health care professionals. Even doctors take lunches and breaks. No other profession exists in our country where workers are by-and-large not allowed a break and that is considered ok.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Pharmacists are Humans too who have human needs to eat, rest and go to washroom. Individuals going to emergency room for fever also need treatment at the same moment only not after 2 hours or 8 hours but if urgent case like heart attack emergency takes you in immediately. I may have seen a person with extraordinary genuine emergency once every 3 months in my practice may be and I see almost 300 people in my shift on average. And do you mean becoming a health care provider means you should be able to live unhealthy lifestyle like not eating for 12 hours holding to go to wash room etc. ?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I think safety and quality of patient care will be better if removing these exemptions. A mandatory uninterrupted break will improve pharmacist's decision making power. I am working in busy pharmacy and we(all pharmacists in my store) have not had a meal break in last 3 years. Some days even we don't have time to go washroom. This situation make us frustrated and it put patient on risk. Currently pharmacy owners/chain pharmacies take advantage of loophole of these exceptions. Furthermore in retail pharmacies, 30 minutes break will not effects on patients care. If these exceptions are removed and it become mandatory then patients also respects these labor laws and they will not expect any service during mentioned meal time. Also there will be minimum hourly wages. Currently in GTA, a relief complied offered only $ 27 to 29 per hours, which is lower than diploma graduates.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I believe the exception O. Reg285/01 part VII should be strike out. The pharmacists supply is over demand in recent years. Most of the pharmacy today are owned by big box stores which need to step up to improve the quality of work place by providing break times. Pharmacists need to be treated equal as other Ontario workers. We have shouldered this exception for decades. It is time we should be included.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

The vast majority of Pharmacists are now employees and many are being treated unfairly because they are outside the protection of the ESA. To allow this to continue is enabling the abuse of employees by companies whose profit motive exceeds their concern for public safety. Exhausted pharmacists are a clear and present danger to public health and employees which are not afforded standard break periods for personal care and nutritional care cannot possibly perform at peak levels. Correct this travesty.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

All pharmacist should be paid for the time that they work including receiving overtime pay., Pharmacists are also people not robots who are expected to work non stop without a break and number of hrs per day. This only leads to job dissatisfaction and negativity amongst pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

While many pharmacists are in favor of removing the exemption, I would like to bring up 2 very important points: #1) A break of 30 minutes (paid or unpaid) is required after 5 hours of work. and #2) A pharmacist must remain on site in order for a pharmacy to operate. Therefore, an unpaid break would mean the pharmacist may leave the premises and thus the pharmacy must shutdown for the entire break period. A paid break would mean the store remains open, but the pharmacist is unavailable for 30 minutes for signing Rx's and consultation. I would now like to bring up the most likely response by employers: Schedule a pharmacist for a maximum of 5 hours, then the next pharmacist will start, thus avoiding the need to close and avoiding the need to pay for a break. being under the ESA will put the number of hours we can work at one store in one day at risk. Do I believe pharmacists should get to eat/use the bathroom etc. during shift? Of course I do. I just don't believe this will be the result of this change for the majority.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Person who works in every medical field have some kind of breaks and lunches -for example doctors,chiropractor , massage therapist,Registered nurse . Like other profession this profession also require focus and attention..working 12 hours without break reduced the speed in checking prescription and chances of medication error .In addition it adversely affects pharmacist health on long run --anxiety ,back pain and blood pressure .--

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

It is not a safe environment for the patient to have a hungry or distracted pharmacist. I have seen pharmacists work multiple days of double-shifts, which could lead to prescription errors. If truck drivers have a limit to hours worked for public safety, then why don't pharmacists? Public safety is being compromised due to over-worked pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

It is a no brainer...pharmacists, in order to safely fill prescriptions should and must have some kind of break period. This should be mandatory, not just recommended. An exemption is unsafe and unfair.

Public  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I am a 4th year UofT pharmacy student, there's no such option in the drop-down menu above.

I believe that the pharmacy profession has been advocating for the health and wellness of the public for a long time. It is time for the profession to look after the health and wellness of its members. Community pharmacists have the privilege to work with great team members to provide exceptional patient care. On a daily basis, while the pharmacist manages the eating break of his/her team, the pharmacist would just munch on granola bars or stuff their face whenever they can.

Just because a person puts on a white coat does not make them superhuman, it does not mean they do not need to urinate, eat, or sit down to rest their feet. Putting on a white coat does not mean a person loses his/her basic human rights. Pharmacists are human too, and their health and wellness are also important. They are also part of the population health that the government cares about.

Having a designated eating period within the pharmacy is not much to ask.

Although patient care is a top priority, medication can still be provided in a timely manner. However, the end goal of timely patient care cannot come at the expense of another person's health and wellness on a daily basis.

There has to be a solution that provides timely patient care and basic human rights to pharmacists.

One idea out of the box: Since multiple pharmacies exist some plaza, there can a network of pharmacies that rotates the eating period. If 3 pharmacies within 5 km, pharmacy A take break at 11:30, pharmacy B take break at 12:00, pharmacy C take break at 12:30.

I do understand for the rural areas, there are a limited number of pharmacies. However, in those cases, owners will just have to cover their staff pharmacist's lunch break or have an overlap pharmacist.

Thank you for your hard work towards a fair workplace for all

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Pharmacist should get their 30 minute uninterrupted lunch break. It is absolutely required to be able to focus and to keep the food out of the workplace. The Pharmacy doesn’t have to close because the Pharmacist would still be on site but the patient should wait for 30 minutes if they need advise which is not excessive since they wait at least twice as much to see the Dr.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I believe pharmacists should be entitled to overtime pay. I've never seen a profession that pays their employees hourly yet does not compensate properly for overtime. I also believe pharmacists, as humans with physiological needs, should have designated times to eat. We encourage our patients to live healthy lifestyles yet we are standing for 8-12 hours at a time with no food or drink. Absolutely ridiculous!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I currently work in retail pharmacy; 12 hour shifts. I usually have one meal during my shift which is eaten while I work. I feel that no breaks=potential patient harm. The impact of the pharmacist being unavailable for 30 mins would be minimal: other health care professionals close from 30 minutes to 1 hr for lunch (physicians, optometrists etc...) The pharmacy would not require to be closed if the pharmacist remains on the premises. I have frequently worked more than 50 hours per week with no extra remuneration. I believe that it is unsafe to do so since a tired pharmacist may not be as acutely alert to detect possible medication errors. It would be interesting to analyze medication errors/discipline cases where a pharmacist's "defense" would be the number of consecutive hours worked. I can live without most of the changes proposed but I think it is essential that pharmacists be allowed a 30 min break in an 8 or 12 hr shift. I think personal emergency leave is unreasonable if you are the only pharmacist on duty/available.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

In a busy retail pharmacy with only one pharmacist on at a time and no overlap, I am expected to work an 8-hour shift with no breaks. There's usually very little time for an uninterrupted break to sit and eat.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Pharmacists should have a washroom break, chance to breathe, have a rest break. Even 15 minutes to sit down, chew your food. Patients are put at risk when there is no second set of eyes to double check prescriptions.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

I have been a practising pharmacist since 2009. Having worked in both chain pharmacies and independent pharmacies, I have encountered different work environments. In both cases, patient care is compromised when pharmacists are not able to have time to eat. Working for 12 hours without eating is unacceptable. Pharmacists need energy to work and think. Large corporations know the law and have used it against pharmacists many times- I have experienced head office personnel who told me not to eat while working and not to drink even coffee or water.

There should also be a minimum rate for pharmacists. Employers cannot keep asking for more while pushing the rate down. In other professions, there is growth while in pharmacies- there is no growth. How can we expect pharmacists to work hard, to keep productivity, to maintain excellent patient care when the rate keeps getting lower and lower? Also, overtime pay is required. Pharmacists work hard just like all other positions and therefore we should be treated fairly!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Pharmacists are hard working health care professionals. They want to ensure that they provide excellent patient care but they cannot do this if they are overworked, not allowed to eat or drink water even, or if they cannot take a break.

Some may argue that asking a patient to wait 30 minutes to get their medication is too much- however even in urgent situations, patients have waited hours in emergency and doctor's offices- so 30 minutes is not unreasonable. Additionally, when patients go to big box stores, they wait for over an hour for their prescriptions.

In order to do a job effectively and to prevent errors, one must be rested and not overworked. A lunch break enables pharmacists to recharge and regain energy. I believe this will reduce errors.

Additionally, pharmacists should be able to receive overtime. If an employee has done the work then they should be compensated accordingly.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Finally, we are discussing a long standing issue that should have been resolved decades ago. I am glad the college is bringing this topic now. In retail, pharmacists can work 14 to 16 hours with no break. If the pharmacist choose to eat, he has to sit in the counseling room and still technians will call him to counsel a patient, make a recommendation or take a verbal order. Pharmacists are insulted/harassed by patients and there are no regulations that can protect them.

Here are my recommendations: Limit work hrs to 8 hrs a day for any pharmacist. For every 3 hrs of work, Pharmacists should be offered 20 minutes paid breaks. Limit the number of part time Pharmacists on payroll to one and employers should offer full time benefits to any pharmacist work on regular schedule even if it is once a week. To make dispensary safe, ensure # of staff match the workload. So number of staff should be sufficient to # of Rx dispensed daily. Enforce minimum wage at 50/hr and greedy employers should understand that it is a fair compensation for pharmacists who work in a physically and mentally stressful environment. Pharmacists should be paid overtime when required. We are perceived as cheap service provider. For example we are paid 7 dollars (that go to corporate or the associate) and the pharmacist is given nothing. Not sure what MDs are given by the government. Hopefully, we can see a resolution soon.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

Part VII: Hours of Work and Eating Periods  Part VIII: Overtime Pay Part X: Public Holidays  Part XI: Vacation with Pay

These Exemption should be removed and pharmacists should get all above things as a part of employment standards act. Pharmacists work really hard to serve the public...they deserve break for eating period,overtime pay , vacation with pay as well as statutory holiday pay.


Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

I do not see any health care professionals that are not offered any break time. As a pharmacist working at least 11 hours each shift, it is extremely tiring not getting a lunch, tea or washroom break. In England, the pharmacy is closed for an hour to give the pharmacist a lunch break. Accordingly, over work and mental fatigue contribute a high percentage of dispersing error and affecting overall performance. Also when we work over 44 hours per week, we should be entitled to be compensated over time rate. Closing the pharmacy to allow the pharmacist to take their lunch will not affect the opening of the drug store as most of the products in the pharmacy are self service except behind the counter products and prescriptions pick up at that time.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

We The Pharmacist work as a trusted healthcare professional to contibute towards patients and community well being. In the matter of trust we stand after Physicians. With the expanding role of ours expectations towards us have reached a new level and this is the time to make changes in order to prevent loss of trust and maintain standards for the time we give working hard to become one of the Trusted Healthcare Professional. Pharmciat profession should get the same rights as a minimum wage employee gets. A minimum wage for a Pharmacist should be set at $50 an hour considering the number of Rx and professional services been provided at a pharmacy. With the decline in the wages in the past couple of years it seems that Pharmacist been exploited by the agencies which provides relief shifts to the individuals. I am not against the agencies but also there should be a stabdard set to what extent an agency can take their commision. A break from such a busy schedule is much needed atleast for 15 mins every 4 to 5 hours. Also time and half should be provided after working above certain number of hours per week.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

Contrary to popular belief, hospital pharmacists DO NOT often get breaks and lunches they are allowed to take.

The whole healthcare system is busting through the seams with workload.

The complexity of providing care is also going to get worse.

For those employers arguing for 'opt-out' option - this will essentially force all employees to opt out or eventually get walked off a job.

I have seen critical errors being made in community and hospital setting, because people were rushing through their work, working beyond 8 hours a day.

Now is the time to fix this system.

I am afraid if the exemptions are not waived, the public will be exposed to increased rates of medication errors.

Thank you OCP for continuing to uphold public safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

Absolutely the basic employment standards need to apply to us. There is no reason why they cannot. We do not have a shortage of pharmacists anymore so if extra hours are required to covers a lunch break that should be posssible. I am familiar with a pharmacy that closes for a 1/2 hour lunch break and there aren't any issues.

This is a health issue (our own) and a safety isssue ( the public). Workloads are larger than ever before and a meal break should help to reduce errors.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

Pharmacy chain always gives us target if we don’t do it threans and tell us to do action plan on it otherwise lose job. I don’t think I am only Pharmacist who works and not get paid after shift. We don’t get any break to eat or washroom and things such as targets are forced upon in name of patient care. I think pharmacy is not a place where billings are forced upon in name of patient care by non Pharmacist owner as a part of business. Government should review this and laws has to be changed with this ownership. Atleast 30 minutes of break has to be mandatory otherwise not fair for working long hours of work as it significantly increase chances of harm to patient. This profession should be govern like doctors not as per rules of money making organizations

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

I work 13 hour shifts and sometimes have to eat standing up in between checking prescriptions. You have us doing more and more yet neglect our basic human rights. I find it appalling that pharmacists don’t get breaks regulated by law. And we should get overtime pay as well. It makes no sense to have pharmacists exempt from overtime pay, if the hours are reached the employer would have to pay up.. just like at most other jobs. As our governing body OCP should be less concerned about prescribing rights, immunizations, medscheck, etc and should start being more concerned about the welfare of the individual pharmacists who are working themselves ragged. Instead of implementing new ways to report errors, do something to reduce the errors from happening in the first place..

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

I agree that pharmacists should be entitled to all rights under the Employment Standards Act, to ensure we have a healthy work/life balance, avoid burn out, and give the best care possible to patients. This is especially true with expanded scope and increasing job responsibilities.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

It seems there is a majority of pharmacists here who believe these exemptions need to be changed to protect this type of health professional. I offer my support in this regard. Having practiced community pharmacy for 35+ years, I never received lunch or bathroom breaks. These always had to be done on the fly during a busy active shift day lasting anywhere from 8-12 hours. Occasionally, more time was needed to do end of day for clean up. The stresses that many describe here are very real. I believe that day after day, pharmacists are there for their patients engaging in critical health decisions often in a very interrupted workplace. As time passes and years and mileage piles up, I think the some level of PTSD can result. Call it professional burnout. It is about time the MOL is conducting consultations which should have been thought about in 2000 when ESA was configured

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

I am a recently retired pharmacist. I’ve had to work over 12 hours a day with no break , sometimes for a few days in a row. It’s inhuman to expect that of anyone. It’s dangerous. Working in that level of exhaustion is risky for mistakes . Pharmacists are employees. They shpuid be entitled to breaks and have a limit on the number of hours of work. With the large surplus of pharmacists in Ontario, there would be no decrease in service. Chain store pharmacies would just have to adjust to no longer being able to exploit pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

Pharmacist must get a break to ease the burden of long shift as this may lead to long term effect on their healty lifestyle. Working 12 hours in todays competive pharmacy environment with less tech support can be stress at times. On the top when no break provided to eat it further stress a pharmacist. Human brain need food and energy to function, pharmacist is not a machine.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

My shifts are 12 hours long and on certain days, I barely have any time to eat or take a break to go to the washroom. Even when I am on my "lunch", the pharmacy can get fairly busy and I often have to get back to work. I believe that pharmacists working long hours can be dangerous, as fatigue and poor judgement can be detrimental to patients. Pharmacists should be able to take at least some sort of break so that he/she can recover physically and mentally. Also, pharmacists should be able to attend to any sort of emergencies without being disciplined for (we are human, after all).

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

There needs to be some overlap where pharmacists can take a break. It's not safe to have someone work 12 hours and not take a break in health care!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

We are pharmacists, but we are also human beings. We can not, and should not, be expected to work 8 hours shifts (often longer) without a break, a meal, or even a chance to relieve ourselves. The pharmacy community can no longer regulate itself based on human rights since our provincial government has facilitated a monopoly on the pharmacy industry by big corporations that only care for profits. As such, we can no longer advocate for our basic rights and big chain pharmacies have taken advantage of the exceptions and exclusions in this Act to take advantage of pharmacists. This lack of mandatory breaks for pharmacist is not in the name of patient care, because it only makes sense that a pharmacist that is rested and fed would be more effective in providing safe and effective patient care. Rather, the fact that pharmacies choose not to give these rights to pharmacists is because they stand to potentially lose a small amount of money when they don't have to. My patients are shocked and unsettled when they discover that I do not get a break during my shift. Many independent pharmacies operate with shorter hours and regular rest periods, without any impediment to patient care. Therefore, the only ones affected by mandatory rest periods or shorter pharmacy hours are stakeholders that profit off of these pharmacies and pharmacists that are thrown under the bus to ensure these profits. What impression does it give to patients when they find out that their pharmacist does not have basic worker rights and hasn't been able to properly rest before filling and assessing the prescriptions for themselves? For their loved ones? And, what does it say to pharmacists today and those considering this profession as a career when their government, which has made this profession unsustainable through targeted cuts to independent owners, does not have respect enough for pharmacists to intervene to at-least allow them a break while working. These changes to the employment standards for pharmacists are not only necessary for patient safety and pharmacist well-being. It is, also, the Ontario College of Pharmacists and the province's responsibility for the decisions they have made for our profession. Make this happen.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 21, 2017

Having worked in a retail chain community pharmacy setting for nearly 10 years my feed back is as under - pharmacist need a meal break to maintain physical and mental health. A 30 minute break would not affect the patient care as there is rarely an emergency situation. Patients returning form ER are mostly provided with initial treatment while follow ups are being prescribed. Stress level on a pharmacist working with a retail chain has gone up significantly with drastic reduction in support staffing level. This is in fact a deterrent to the expanded scope of practice. - Availability and supply of pharmacist is so much than a demand that : *it is quick and easy to get relief pharmacist *wages have shrunk to a level not matching with the knowledge, expertise and responsibilities that thisprofession demand.there has to be a minimum wage standard different for pharmacists *pharmacist do not have a bargaining power if any employment condition is left on mutual agreement between pharmacist and an employer. pharmacist benefits only if its a law. *employer expect us to work 8 to 10 hours without chair, microwave and meal breaks Prolonged standing, tiredness and fatigue make it more difficult to perform cognitive tasks leading to more dispensing errors. -stores do close on public holidays and pharmacist should also have privileges such as public holidays and vacation in order to maintain work -life balance. Employer can decide to keep pharmacy open on public holidays and schedule those pharmacist who are willing to work on the day without making it mandatory.In my experience, patient turn out is very limited during public holidays. A gap of at least 8 hours should be provided between two consecutive shifts specially in big cities where commute time is longer. In normal circumstances, pharmacist should have privileges of vacation pay and emergency leave just as any other employee has. It will not affect the patient care since that can be taken care of by other internal or external pharmacist. This should not affect employer since all other employees are given these benefits. Being a health care practitioners, we are obligated to return to work in case of real emergency situations.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Unhealthy working conditions is a major issue in community pharmacy nowadays. Forget about food, I have many times really struggled to go to washroom too. Major reason for dispensing errors is extreme workload and unhealthy working conditions in my opinion. How do you expect a human who stands up to 12 hours or sometimes 16 hours straight without eating or resting could function properly ? It is in best interest of public to have pharmacists lunch breaks As it would lead to safe and healthy pharmacist which will lead to less errors and efficient service. If shifts are more than 8 hours then pharmacists should be paid overtime. The reason behind it is to avoid such shifts and if needed 12 hours shift more breaks. Pharmacist job does require more attention and it's not like you are sitting on a chair and working so after certain amount of time your attention decreases and it gets difficult to focus and run around. Definitely I am in favor of making pharmacist working conditions humane. Yes to 30 mins lunch and two 15 mins breaks if 8 hours shift. Overtime after 8 hours and all pharmacists must be paid for every minute they work. Realistic workload and enough assistants coverage according to volume of work.! Yes pharmacists are really keen to do more for their patients but pharmacist doesn't grow extra two hands in flu season and give 20 flu shots on Monday without overlap while doing more than 150 rx and showing customers where is vitamin e cream on shelf and answering a question on phone that why insurance company charged patient more coz experienced assistant called in sick and new assistant doesn't know much about insurance plans and called other assistants but nobody is available. Oh pharmacist did not get time to drink a sip of water that day nor rested for 2 mins in the whole shift.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Hello, Pharmacist certainly need lunch break in order to absorbe mental and physican work load.This will minimized medication incidents.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

I am in support of having pharmacists proper lunch breaks and shifts of 8 hours. ! Unhealthy work environment can lead to more errors and unhealthy pharmacist life style. Exemptions made sense in the days when most pharmacies were owned independently, now most of us work in chains.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

As a retail pharmacist I often work extended hours without a break. The 12 hour shifts without food is a reality in this profession. If breaks are not feasible for companies then I believe that break times not taken should be compensated financially.

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

I worked in a retail pharmacy in a large retail store. There was pharmacist overlap and time for each pharmacist to take a lunch. On weekends the pharmacy had only one pharmacist and we closed for a half hour lunch. Customers grumbled but understood that the pharmacist needed a break. Then company decided that the pharmacy needed to stay open as long as the store was open. The pharmacists now overlap shifts seven days a week and get their meal break. But their hours are longer and get fewer weekends off. Where I work now, also a retail pharmacy within a large store, the pharmacists overlap during the week. Two of our pharmacists utilize the option of taking a meal break and one pharmacist NEVER takes a break even though there is another pharmacist to cover. That pharmacist feels taking a break is a sign of personal weakness. If our company has the "opt out" nothing will change. Two of the pharmacists will take their breaks and one pharmacists will "opt out" because they "don't need to stop".

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Fair rights wouldn't have a negative impact on access, quality, etc. As of now, pharmacists, especially those in chains, work 12 hour shifts on their feet with a 5 minute lunch break, no overtime, and no benefits that are given to other workers. If anything, that has a negative impact on the quality of patient care. It used to be that pharmacists could open their own pharmacy, so it didn't matter. But the competitive landscape makes pharmacy ownership much more rare. Pharmacists more and more are employees, and they should be treated fairly as employees.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

While I agree wholeheartedly that pharmacists should be given more respect in the workplace as far as breaks and lunches are concerned, I feel that to necessitating change starts with taking said breaks and lunches. I, for one, will direct my staff to tell patients that I am having lunch, and to come back in 20 minutes, or leave a name an number for me to call when I am able. While most patients are understanding; there are some who are not. Recently, I found a small window of opportunity to have dinner in the private consultation room at 7:30pm, only to overhear "You mean I have to wait until someone finishes eating to get a flu shot?" directed at my assistant, to which she simply replied "Yes". I say it is time for pharmacists to take breaks, go to the washroom, eat their lunch, or just put our feet up and catch up on the daily news. Our profession has bowed to the corporate and societal mindset of instant gratification far too long. "No appointment necessary...ask the pharmacist...just ask us anything." Enough, already.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Working longer shifts 12 & 13 hours with no pharmacist overlap it's hard to take a proper break to eat, I often get called back to the dispensary multiple times. You need to take regular breaks to be effective but the public just doesn't get that. It really affects my ability to concentrate and I'm more prone to making errors. And I'm seeing a trend towards less technician / assistant hours available for us to use so we end up working long periods with just the pharmacist in dispensary performing all technical duties as well. Mandated breaks are going to be needed to be able to leave the dispensary at all, even to go to the washroom

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

In addition to requiring eating periods for physical/mental health of the pharmacist to ultimately provide better patient care, I think the wages are getting way too low for the service pharmacists provide, especially now that the scope of practice is further expanding. I would suggest a minimum of $40-45. It can prevent the undermining of the pharmacy profession and can be an incentive for pharmacists to continue working at their best for their patients. With regards to pharmacists taking breaks, patients will still be able to have access to a pharmacist due to the number of pharmacies available, and waiting an extra 15-30 minutes is still not putting them at risk because the time spent in a doctor's office, emergency, etc. is usually longer.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

As pharmacists working in multiple work environments, I think it’s important to have a standards act that ensure fair and equitable treatment. Breaks are essential part of making sure a pharmacist and the pharmacy team is working under optimal conditions. This is important to ensure proper patient care and safety. Many times errors are made solely due to fatigue and exhaustion. There should also be a minimum wage for pharmacists, there is more demand on the pharmacist to operate with more work and less help. This also impacts the quality of care given to a patient and safety aspects. Pharmacists seem to be treated as second classs citizens when it comes to health professionals as a group. It feels like we have no recourse when changes to our detriment. It seems like the employer/management has all the say as to how we practice and under which conditions.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

A lot of good comments I agree with, Bottom line is pharmacists do not have super human powers that enable them to go without food and rest and should not be bullied into thinking they are bad pharmacists for seeking basic human needs. There is no "emergency" if someone has to wait a for a prescription, perhaps a minor inconvenience. Pharmacists should not be exempt or excluded from the Employment Standards Act . There should not be any opt out clauses as this would be abused by employers to defeat the whole purpose.

Public  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

A pharmacist's job, first and foremost, is to safely deliver the required medication to the patient. When someone does not have adequate sustenance to maintain energy and focus for long hours, they cannot do their job properly. In a busy urban setting, there is no time for a pharmacist to eat while they work, let alone use the washroom. Mandating a rest period where they can get off their feet, eat, use the washroom, make a phone call or simply remove themselves from the busyness of their day, only makes sense. There is no reason that a technician or assistant can't look after customers. Obviously, no checks can be completed without the pharmacist, so some patients would have to wait. That may be inconvenient, but when it is framed positively, in terms of patient safety, most people would be understanding. Pharmacists hold health and safety in their hands. They need regulated break times and work limits (max hours per week) as do pilots and truck drivers.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

As a health care professional, it should be thought a very high standards for pharmacist job. No break, no pharmacy tech per some hours per shift for sure will increase the medicinal error could lead to risk and harm to patient. Also, the less wage versus so much to do per shifts will reduce the productivity and motivation. We should accept pharmacist is a health care profession not a person to do more like a labor for just increasing the interest of retails and company with no benefit! It is not fair.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Pharmacist are the most accessible healthcare providers. The services we provide help the government save a lot on healthcare resources as well. It is only fair that we get the same privilege and protection from exploitation and abuse by bring included in the Act. We deserve to be treated with respect.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

In current senario , Pharmacist should get equal right. What is the reason they are exempted??? Employer and corporations are exploting pharmacist by this exemption. May be when this exemption introduce certain years ago by some situation., But I don't think same situation is today. Definetly need change in rule. The way pharmacist are responsible able for their work they also need rest or lunch time and standards hour shift. Now a day 24 hr pharmacy are there, each corner and town has pharmacy. There are many excess pharmacist in Ontario. Now a day most of corporation don't give 1.5 pay in overtime.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

I believe the exemption should be removed and pharmacist should be equally and fairly treated at workplace like any other professions. Additionally working 12 hour shifts will not be as impossible if you get few breaks in between just to refresh your brain and stopping the lightheadedness due to jumping from one task to another! I agree with all other colleagues that working long hours nonstop would affect patients’ quality of care and increase risk of error.

Public  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Every person working in Ontario should be afforded reasonable standards of employment, a healthy workplace and dignity. How can a profession dedicated to the health and safety of others allow themselves (or those who work for them) to be denied basic self-care, hygiene and safety? It has been proven that regular, short breaks improve efficiency and reduce errors. I do not want someone who is responsible for handling medications that are essential to my life to be suffering from low blood sugar, dehydration, unmet personal hygiene needs or fatigue. From what I see in my travels through the major chains, store profit come before all else. My health needs are subservient to the ever-greater need for new income streams. My trust in this profession has fallen significantly and continues to fall. What has happened to professional ethical standards?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

I have worked 11 and 12 hour days for the past 30 years. Most days there is barely time to eat or use the bathroom. Lunch is usually at 3 to 4pm. Since we have no assistant after 5pm there is no time for dinner which I have to eat at 9:45pm at home. I think the working conditions are inhuman. In fact, there are times when I feel exhausted and unwell but have to continue the work. These conditions are detrimental to quality patient care. I think the public can wait 15 to 20 minutes for a pharmacist to take a break. We often wait an hour or more to see a family physician and several hours in a hospital to see a physician for an “emergency”. Why does the public not have to wait to consult a pharmacist?

Public  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

The best way to prevent medication errors is by having a well rested professional who had a chance to use a bathroom and have some food. Pharmacists are putting their licenses on the line every minute or so by both checking prescriptions and answering questions. I’d trust my pharmacist much easier knowing that he/she is not going on her/his 12 hr without any breaks. My pharmacist is looking after my safety and provides support on demand. It’s the only professional that I can see face to face whenever I need to. She corrects mistakes made by the doctors and never tried to sell me something I don’t need. They deserve proper compensation and humane working conditions!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

All employees should be treated the same. The exemption is obsolete. Rural stores may need to clise for lunch but urban centres have no reason not to adjust staff schedules and numbers to comply. The added benefit of healthier pharmacists probably exercising better judgement is a patient safety bonus. Productivity standards are outside the scope of this review but needed for safe practice

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 22, 2017

Pharmacist or any employee in Pharmacy they should take valid meal break. If legislation needs to be addressed, my vote is by having legal meal break and other benefits too that can consider Pharmacists are Human too.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Unquestionably a major problem in our profession is that most pharmacies are effectively owned and operated by individuals who are not healthcare providers. This situation differs from other regulated health professions such as medicine, dentistry and physiotherapy.

Since the outset of Ontario's drug reform in 2008, the many non-pharmacist owners/directors have passed the cuts along to pharmacists directly in order for these purely business people to maintain their profits and achieve their returns on investment. Our work environments have consequently become increasingly strained, insofar as pharmacists needing to in fact take on more technical duties while we should be taking on more professional duties working with patients directly to improve their health outcomes.

While previously a DM/director, I lost many long-time staff and a F/T pharmacist in a short period due to adverse circumstances imposed by the head office. As a result in order to continue to manage and dispense in this high-volume practice I worked 60-70-hour weeks continuously over several months, while the major shareholders/directors, who were not pharmacists, failed to responsibly support me. Consequently I suffered psychologically at first not even realizing it, and eventually experienced a terribly humiliating incident involving an employee. Meanwhile the owners were focused on acquiring new business and obtaining more investment from their shareholders, such as myself.

The well-being of pharmacists in every aspect is unequivocally vital to the safe, effective, and ethical delivery of pharmacy services. The public would indeed benefit from allowing a pharmacist a reasonable eating/rest period after four or five hours of work, similar to dentistry and medicine for instance. There would be no need for the pharmacy to close as long as the pharmacist remains on site in the event of a truly urgent matter. Now more importantly, sufficient professional staffing is crucial to patient care. No pharmacist alone should ever have to dispense thousands or even hundreds of prescriptions per day, while managing the pharmacy. Eventually public safety would be compromised.

This review of the ESA should serve as an opportunity for the OCP and the Ministry to uphold the dignity and honour of pharmacy by first supporting pharmacists in maintaining their well-being through mandatory ample rest periods such as a 20-30-minute meal break, and secondly requiring that pharmacies be effectively owned and operated by pharmacists, not business people who ruthlessly order pharmacists around without sincere regard for pharmaceutical care. Until then, non-pharmacist individuals who choose to own and operate a pharmacy in any way should be held accountable to the public as their subordinate registered pharmacists are.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

Well said. I wholeheartedly agree. Non-pharmacist ownership of pharmacies is a public health risk as profits are put ahead of healthcare. This should be addressed as well.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Current exemption are not fair and not in the patient’s benefit pharmacist are working eithout break they loose focus. Remember they are human too.

Pharmacy Assistant  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Companies will abuse their workers as much as possible. Pharmacists aren't being told to work long shifts without meal breaks or overtime because, without it, the public won't have access to care. They can hire more pharmacists. They can schedule better. They are doing it because it costs the company less, and I think our pharmacists deserve better than that!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

I am in favor of removing the exemption under the ESA for pharmacists. I work 50 hour weeks without any breaks including lunch, overtime or paid sick days.

Public  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Pharmacists should have the same rights as other employees. A Pharmacist who works 12 hours without lunch or bathroom breaks is more.lrone to make an error in the course of a day than others. I believe that having a registered tech in all pharmacies will help take pressure off the Pharmacist and allow them to have a break.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

I agree with being under the Act - fatigue and being overworked/hungry, limited time to even run to the washroom can hinder our thinking and judgement. While fortunately most days I am now able to get a lunch break, on the ones I don't I know I can notice a difference in the increase in stress that occurs

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

I currently work in a pharmacy for a mass merchandiser and I do receive a vacation pay, overtime, and holiday pay. However, due to changes made in how long the pharmacy is open (7-10 pm - 7 days a week) we no longer have any overlap and no longer are afforded any meal break or even real time to go to the washroom. The company policy states "that it is the responsibility of the pharmacist to ensure that they have adequate nutrition to sustain themselves throughout their shift" However, in reality the constant barge of questions and demands makes that nearly impossible. I have gone many shifts without eating or drinking anything and on occasion felt my ability to concentrate and focus has been compromised - I have resorted to checking my blood sugar (I am not diabetic) and my levels have been close to 4 - so it is not recommended to drive a car if your BS is <5 but a pharmacist continues to check prescriptions. The college and my employer would state that I have a responsibility to ensure I don't put my patients at risk and of course I did not, but how many pharmacists operate every day with that same situation potentially making a dispensing error. in many European countries stores including pharmacies close during the middle of the day for a meal and their patients seem to survive quite well. We have allowed a situation to develop were by the public perceives that they should never have to wait for anything and they should be able to access everything when ever they feel the desire. I believe it is actually in the best interest of the public that the exemptions for meal breaks be removed for pharmacists and they should be given a 30 min meal break.

The majority of pharmacists working in community today are working for corporations and not the small independent pharmacy, these corporations are financial able to give the pharmacists the same benefits (i.e.: overtime, holiday pay and vacation pay) that they do the rest of the staff.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

The majority of pharmacists are employed by large companies and no longer treated like the professionals that these exemptions were intended for. With no discretion over safe work loads and hours of consecutive work, how is it possibly in the public's best interests to allow corporations to overwork and abuse those charged with safeguarding their health? Waiting an extra half hour for a prescription is a minor inconvenience compared to the serious implications of serious dispensing errors arising from an exhausted and hungry pharmacist losing focus. There is no possible public interest served by maintains these antiquated exemptions. The only ones they really benefit are Loblaw, Rexall, et al.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

I work 12 hours shifts and I get to use the washroom once during my shift if I am lucky. On weekends we do not have a technician so 9-10 hours of working alone with no washroom break. Most days I get to eat my lunch between 2 to 4pm and I eat it so quickly in 5 minutes so that I do not get interrupted by another patient. I think we definitely deserve some respect and should NOT be excluded from having a break or being paid if we have to stay to finish work. We deserve a much needed break at least 15-30 minutes to eat and use the washroom and clear our mind. During this time the Pharmacy could remain open, but the patients just have to wait a little longer.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

As a pharmacist who has worked in community for many years and then switched to hospital, I see the inhumanity in expecting pharmacists to work anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, with no dedicated lunch break or coffee breaks. The only break being a rushed trip to use the restroom. Pharmacy owners/associates should be mandated to provide coverage for pharmacists to take a lunch break, either by covering themselves or having overlapping staff. This will reduce pharmacist fatigue/errors and burnout and improve the workday balance for the pharmacist.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Safety for the public will NOT be improved by implementing the current EPA. If pharmacists have a reasonable work load, there would be time for breaks, lunch, etc. taken of our own accord. What DOES affect patient safety is company-ordered quotas on rxs/hour, professional services etc. We are constantly being asked to do more, with fewer and fewer labour hours allowed. If I take a lunch break, I will still have the same amount of work to do, but now with 1/2 hour less time to do it in, which is more detrimental to public safety. Our College needs to be addressing employment standards that actually can affect the quality of care we provide and the well-being of the pharmacists providing it.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Pharmacist should have an uninterrupted lunch break for at least 30 minutes like any other profession. Even doctors close for lunch for a full hour. If there is an emergency, the patient should go to the hospital anyway not to the family doctor's office or pharmacy. Lunch break gives pharmacist time to eat and relax their mind. This is for the benefit of the patient. Pharmacist will be able to perform better for the patient's sake if he or she is not hungry/thirsty and have had time to wind down and will have clearer mind to make clinical decisions.

We should also have 15 minute break after 2 hours in the morning, afternoon, and evening to use the washroom and eat snacks. Pharmacist are humans too with medical conditions and personal needs.

If the pharmacy is open for 12 hours, the owners should be mandated to have a minimum of one assistant working with the pharmacist for the full 12 hours. If their budget for labour cannot allow this, the owner should cut down their hours to 8 hours only. Making the pharmacist do all the technical job in the pharmacy plus adding extra professional services (like flu shot, other injections, on top of checking prescriptions, etc.) is NOT good for the safety of the patient. It is a recipe for dispensing error.

The dispensing errors in the pharmacy is becoming rampant. It was even been featured on the CBC news. Most people have no idea that pharmacists do not have breaks. Also, additional responsibilities are given to pharmacists like flu shots but pharmacy owners are cutting down labour hours for assistants. This is putting the public's health at risk. If the public knew about this, then they will realize that no wonder there's more dispensing error happening.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

The profession has spoken. The all too typical scenario of pharmacists dealing with punishing workloads without breaks is unsafe for the public that we serve. Those of us who grab a quick bite in the dispensary (so that we don't pass out from hunger) introduce a new hazard--food allergens. Therefore, pharmacists should have a break away from any patient care areas. As for access to timely care, patients may have to wait for a few minutes when a pharmacist is on break. This is a small inconvenience balanced against increased safety. Quality of pharmacy care? It is likely to improve unless pharmacy retailers try to recoup "reduced labour productivity" as they have done in the past--less tech support, quotas for "professional" services that do not serve patients and reduced wages driving experienced, competent and credentialed (CDE, CRE, CTE, etc.)pharmacists out of retail pharmacy.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Pharmacists should be given 1/2 hour uninterrupted lunch break. It is very difficult to focus without having a proper break to eat, rehydrate and to mentally and physically relax for at least 30 minutes. The community pharmacy where I practice can be very busy. When I sit down for a minute or two to take a bite out of my sandwich, I am often interrupted with a question, a counsel etc. Nothing in retail pharmacy should be an emergency that a person can not wait 30 minutes. If there is an emergency, they should call 911. Doctor's offices take a lunch break, nurses/doctors in hospitals take breaks. Patient's can wait in the pharmacy area, walk around the store or come back. It is in the best interest of the patient that the pharmacist on duty is not overly stressed, mentally fatigued, hungry, dehydrated, desperately waiting to use the bathroom. These are all human needs that every individual has--including pharmacist. So yes, we need an uninterrupted break!! Pharmacists should be entitled to overtime pay, vacation pay, public holidays off and personal emergency leave. We should also be entitled to raises. Pharmacists should be protected by the same labour laws as other working individuals, especially since we do not have unions to look out for us as other professionals (nurses) do.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

Pharmacists should be allowed to receive regular breaks like any other profession. When a pharmacist works under stressful condition, that imposes risks on the public safety. Dispensing errors often occurs in busy dispensaries as there is usually one pharmacist present trying to check accuracy of prescriptions, answering patients questions, responding to physician phone calls, resolving issues like prescriptions errors. And recently with the expanded scope of practice, a pharmacist is required to perform medication reviews, give travel vaccines or flu shots, counseling on smoking cessation, etc.. All that with only one pharmacist on duty. By making sure there is enough staff per shift so pharmacists can get regular breaks, that will allow for better patient care and focus.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 23, 2017

It appears that the overwhelming consensus is that the exemptions from ESA should all be removed. Opt-out options will become a tool of discrimination against those who would choose to exercise their rights. Current laws and standards are hazardous to the public by placing unreasonable burdens on pharmacists. The laws that dictate that pharmacies must be owned by pharmacists were long ago circumvented by certain large corporations and often make non-pharmacists the actual beneficiaries of the pharmacy business. Thus, decisions are made for the pharmacists by those who are not pharmacists, leaving the profession poorer for it and the public at greater risk. FULL inclusion of pharmacists under the ESA will not remedy how our profession is practiced, but it will go a long way to preventing further harm. We are human, and we deserve to be treated as such. ANY exclusion under ESA is nothing less than maintaining us (employees) as indentured servants. Given the potential for momentum, I think that there is the makings of a lawsuit here against the provincial government if we are discriminated against any further.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

I agree with what one of the pharmacist mentioned...breaks will not really solve anything. Big companies will just use other methods to try and "recoup" their losses for that half an hour pharmacists go on break. At the end, the pharmacist will end up doing the same amount of work, and getting paid less! Because let's face it, companies will probably make those breaks unpaid, so by enforcing these breaks, pharmacists will end up rushing to finish all the work that was accumulated while they were taking their breaks and would be more of a patient safety concern.

If anything, college should implement some sort of rule that if the store is dispensing a certain average number of prescriptions a day, medschecks, OTC sales, etc., there should be a minimum of X number of staff on site to ensure prescriptions are being dispensed in a safe manner with less distractions for pharmacists. I know that when I am checking prescriptions and being interrupted constantly, pressure to fulfil prescriptions within a certain period of time...8-12 hours straight with extreme lack of help, I wonder how college is doing nothing about patient safety - is the college really THAT clueless to what is REALLY going on in retail pharmacy? The environment that pharmacists are working in are crazy - it is unsafe for patients who rely on pharmacists to put their full 100% in ensuring their prescriptions are accurate and safe. It honestly is more of a safety concern for patients than for pharmacists. It is time for the college to do something about it.

Public  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

I frequently use pharmacies one near my home and one near my work mainly for medication for myself and my son. I usually am in a rush and wouldn't want changes that limit my ability to go in, wait 15 mins to dispense then leave. That said I would expect pharmacists to have same rights as other professionals and they need breaks too. I would be very concerned if an over worked and over tired pharmacist may make an error that perhaps wouldn't happen otherwise. Safety must come first but there has to be a way to do that while respecting good working benefits for highly educated pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

I feel the College should provide the Ministry of Labour with a formal written submission on whether the profession’s exemptions from the Employment Standards Act, 2000 stating that it should NOT be maintained. I have heard of too many pharmacists work more than 12 hours without a break. I have heard of them working long shifts closing until midnight then opening at 7am the next day. As health care professionals, we should know best that this is NOT healthy for the pharmacist or for the patient. I do admit that I do not know the fall out of this. Meaning I would like more information as to being included in the Employment Standards Act would affect a pharmacist's CHOICE to work extra hours or overtime. But I'm glad my college is looking in to this because we need to do better for our patients. This has become a business more than a health care profession.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

Yes it's high time these changes took place.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

If these exemptions continue, it means that society does not consider pharmacists to be humans - they are working like machines in professional settings with increasing demands to work alone, longer hours, complete med checks and without technicians ... this is not good for safe delivery of optimal health care. If the only time you get to eat is while on the toilet while you are being paged and still chewing a bite of food so you don't pass out - might as well make that the lunch room!Also inflectional control/our college does not want food in the dispensary, so opportunity for nutrition is minimal.

There are models of delivering good pharmacy care to the public while the pharmacists are treated humanely. Our services are not emergent. Systems of timely services around these breaks can be implemented. I do not know of any other professional service that can be accessed free of charge 24/7 - anyone from anywhere in the world can call and obtain professional advice from a pharmacist on the telephone without an appointment or a fee. Try asking a lawyer if he charges for every minute and after you get your response, you will get a bill for the time it took him to respond.

Pharmacists are not monkeys, and should not be continually asked to jump when anyone walks in the pharmacy door. They can still be on the premises, but permitted to take a short break every 3 hours, and a civilized lunch that does not promote fatigue, stress and health care disorders - I think most would gladly give up the extra hour of pay for this.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

The exemptions and exclusions for pharmacists should be lifted, and we should be protected under the act. Corporate employers can be counted upon to work us into the ground for as little money as possible. I have always failed to see how the public can be well served by hungry, exhausted pharmacists. Working conditions in retail have reached an all time low, because there are too many of us. The only options many of us have is either a bad job or no job. Left to the mercy of the bottomless corporate greed for profits we will continue to be exploited, and the health of the public with suffer along with us.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

I support to have a minimum decent wage for pharmacists.

Public  ·  Nov. 24, 2017

My sister is a pharmacist. I was agast to hear that she often worked 12 - 14 shifts with a bathroom break or a meal break. When I suggested this was against the Canadian Labour code, she said "no, we are professionals". I was a professional in the federal public service for 32 years and I considered this to be an irresponsible labour practice. I all agree that we would like to receive our medications in a timely fashion, but I would also like to be certain I am receiving the correct medication and not something given to me in error because the pharmacist is burnt-out. Please consider the health of our professionals when providing exemptions.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 25, 2017

The majority of jobs around Canada give 30 min of lunch time .This is the least requirment for us to be able to be able to resume an 8,10 or 12 hours shifts .This break will help us focus on our profession and help us provide a better service to our patients .We are humans not machines after all

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 25, 2017

I think that we, as pharmacists, should have the right to have regular breaks in order to function at the best capacity and prevent mistakes. Patients should be educated that the pharmacist is on break and that his prescription might take longer to fill at the moment. The accuracy of our work, the interactions with our patients, the focus in checking prescriptions and the enthusiasm in doing another medication review will all be improved if we are treated like human beings that need and deserve regular breaks. I think that we should be paid overtime if we work over 44 hours and we should be paid extra if we have to work on statutory holidays.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 25, 2017

Employees should all have the same rights. There is no longer a shortage of pharmacists so no need for public inconvenience with appropriate staff and scheduling.overworked staff do not provide good patient care. Having a lunch break would help, but does not change the need for a reasonable workload. The other part for public safety is productivity standards, which the College urgently needs to establish and enforce.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 25, 2017

I became a pharmacist to help people with their drug related needs. After graduation, I was hit hard by the harsh reality of being a pharmacist ie. no lunch breaks. Anyone who doesn't eat for long hours or get a mental break for even 15 minutes could make a mistake, and in the case of pharmacists, a life-threatening mistake could be made. With so much at stake, why are we forced to work under such awful conditions? OCP and the media often highlight the mistakes of pharmacists, but do they recognise why those mistakes are happening? IF we could eat in peace for even 30 minutes in a 12 hour shift and escape the dispensary for a short while to clear our minds, there would be fewer mistakes and improved patient outcomes..

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

Pharmacist must need following for better work experience and better patient care. 1) 20 min break for every 6 hr shift 2) Overtime pay for shifts more than 9 hrs 3) Minimum Wages that suits the responsibility and liability of pharmacist profession (My recommendation at least 50 CAD/Hr) 4) Vacation Pay and Personal Emergency leave 5) Appropriate benefits for loosing family time on Public Holidays mainly for relief pharmacist who gets no extra pay for working through agency on public holidays

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

Simply any of the work rules not covered by the daily and weekly limits on hours of work. Regarding overtime we are not entitled to overtime pay as any othe employee in Ontario. No public holiday paid, no paid lunch break even within 12 hours shift Plus we are not entitled to the minimum wage that protect our rate per hour specially in community pharmacies. It out dated law that need to be updated specially considering human rights

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

Let's follow the same standard for a unionised pharmacy clerk . They have to have a break after 4 hour shift. Their performance does not affect patient's heath while the union book forces 3 breaks in 8 hour shift. If we consider pharmacists a human being who's performance affects patients health then give them half an hour meal break in a full day. Let's protect public

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

I am in agreement with some of the proposed changes as they relate to break periods and hours of work. I believe that Pharmacist should get a break away from work for at least 30 minutes unless there is an emergency in the pharmacy. If a client has a question they can be asked if they'd like to wait until the pharmacist get back from their break. Some Doctors's offices don't answer phones during lunch hour. Often times in a busy pharmacy one could be there for the full 8 hours without a break. Some pharmacists get sick with stomach issues from not eating on time; also some get migraines and still have to work. I don't think a pharmacist should be required to work for 12 hours. It's not healthy for the pharmacist or the patients. Also in recent times employers, especially in the retail setting have been taking an unfair advantage of new graduates by offering them lower than average salaries. We are professionals and I believe like the US a new pharmacist should be properly remunerated and should not be payed below a certain amount.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

Pharmacist should be given half an hour break to at least eat and use washroom.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

It is a real tragedy when I see and meet so many of my colleagues taxed to such a degree which is completely unfair. Many regret entering the profession and they are severely understaffed, and hence dangerously overworked, and unjustifiably undercompensated and numerous proprietors simply do not care as I have worked for and met many of them who poorly manage their pharmacies which, ironically, in some cases, they are extensions of grossly managed personal lives. Twelve hour shifts must include two 1 hour breaks. For every four hours of work a 15 minute break should be mandatory with a 30 minute lunch(dinner) or in an eight hour shift an hour break and these moments to decompress must not be interrupted. Time to decompress and regroup for the pharmacists will help reduce dispensing errors. Sick days and emergency leaves for caring for an ill loved one should also be carefully addressed and considered as a necessary implementation. Plus as advocates of a healthy lifestyle, we pharmacists deserve to have the opportunity to also do so for ourselves. Pharmacists are human beings and as such, we deserve the same workplace rights as everyone else and the industry must be done with the plethora of pharmacy proprietors who use pharmacists as disposable commodities.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 26, 2017

A standard determining a certain number of proscriptions per pharmacist should be introduced. Breaks should be mandatory

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

Working in hospital has changed drastically over the past few years with extension of hours and working late evening shift. After working an evening shift we are expected to come back to work the next morning and complete a clinical shift. I feel overly tired and mentally drained after an evening shift and not getting enough sleep to recover. I am worried that my inability to concentrate will negatively impact my performance and consequently patient care.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

Clearly most pharmacists are concerned about adequate meal breaks, which is fair. Keep in mind that YOU ARE PROFESSIONALS. When you are hungry, you have the right to take a reasonable meal break JUST LIKE ANY OTHER HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. This is in the public's best interest to ensure optimal quality of care. Employers cannot override this basic human need. At the same time you have the ability to choose your schedule: no pharmacist is forced to work long shifts but rather they do because they choose to do so similar to how physicians control their workload. If you are becoming tired after working long shifts, tell your employer to modify your schedule accordingly.

There is HENCE NO NEED to remove our exemptions from the ESA. Removing them would decrease timely access to pharmacy services, and not to mention undermine our professionalism. Certainly a positive step would be to make the many non-pharmacist operators/directors accountable to the OCP and the public, whereby they must register with the OCP. If they try to impose unreasonable or unethical conditions on their pharmacists, YOU HAVE A FIDUCIARY DUTY to report this to the proper authorities such as the OCP or the Ministry.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

Except that my employer expects that all work be completed before I leave for the day (at the end of a 12 hour shift). This is without regard for workload, medication reviews, number of flu shots, or technician hours. AND my employer refuses to pay for any additional hours so I am forced to stay late and complete my work without getting paid for it. As a result, I often DON'T take the time to eat appropriately and instead rush back to work.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

it is important to have paid lunch break of half hour during 8 hours shift and 1 hour during 12 hours shift. This will help pharmacist to relax a bit and having less chance of errors.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

Pharmacists are human beings first of all and the ESA is supposed to protect any employed human being from deleterious working conditions, regardless of the setting. There is absolutely no reason why pharmacists should be exempted from mandatory rest periods, overtime pay, eating periods, personal emergency leave, right to refuse and cancellation of shift. It is realistic and possible to reconcile ESA and business side of pharmacy operations. On the other hand without ESA, pharmacists will be subject to overwork and higher risk of medication related errors for the public, especially within the context of continuous reduction in pharmacy assistant hours, at least that being the trend within a big retail chain I work for.

About half of pharmacies in Ontario belong to big retail businesses like Shoppers Drug Mart/Loblaws, Rexall, Walmart etc and pharmacists work hours will be directly linked to the store opening/closing times as well as pharmacy manager scheduling style. Most stores are open 9-11 nowadays. I have experience with working long, 13 hr shifts and from that experience I know that I can provide a much better patient care if I work for 8 hours versus 13 hours. What happens during those long shifts is that due to insufficient pharmacist support staff (i.e. assistants and technicians), a pharmacist won’t have any time to rest, especially in a busier retail setting. I’ve experienced feeling dizzy and close to fainting, simply because I had no time to have a break and proper meal. There’s so much that a human body can take. As a pharmacy manager I am noticing that there’s also more and more work that has to be done at home, because there’s no time to perform those administrative tasks in the pharmacy. I’ve been working in pharmacy for over 7 years and I can say that just like a family doctor’s office that closes for break, same situation applies for a pharmacist place of work – it does not regularly include the need to deal with unpredictable events arising from client needs, workplace staffing, produc perishability, nature of technology or nature of the work process. Most patients using retail pharmacy services are stable on long-term medication or if this is something that is required sooner, patient is in a stable enough condition to wait for 30 minutes for pharmacist break to be over. I often hear from my patients: how come you don’t get a break, this is not good, a pharmacist should have some rest. So, patients understand that the nature of my job requires me to be very alert, focused and attentive to every detail. Patients understand and pharmacist breaks, because they most probably enjoy that right at their own place of work and understand how important it is. Also, once the law comes in effect (and I see no reason why it shouldn’t), patients will easily adapt and will get used to pharmacy being closed for a lunch break, because it will be everywhere the same. There is no need for a fundamental change, pharmacy premise can still be open, schedule 3 products can be locked while pharmacist is on break. Certain services that doesn’t require pharmacist involvement can still be provided, pharmacy doesn’t have to close – assitant can keep taking phone calls, accept prescriptions etc. Only pharmacist related services will be held for 30 minutes. There are many ways to ensure that there’s minimal impact on pharmacy business.

I am glad that this conversation started and I am confident that good change is coming for pharmacists and for the public they willingly serve on a daily basis.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

As a community staff pharmacist, I find that it can be difficult to provide quality care to my patients because of our being exempted from the employment standards act. I used to work at a pharmacy where I did 16 hour shifts with no designated meal breaks. While some days were quiet enough that I could find the time to eat, other days were so busy that I found myself putting off having lunch/supper for hours. It got to the point where I would get light headed and distracted by hunger. I think, as health care professionals, we know better than to work under such conditions but sometimes we don't have a choice. And while providing timely pharmaceutical care to our patients is of the utmost importance, it is also important that the pharmaceutical care we provide is of the best quality. This can be difficult if we are working long hours with little time to eat. Pharmacists being excluded from the employment standards act made sense when a lot of pharmacists were self employed (by owning their own pharmacy), but that is no longer the case. I think most community pharmacists work for retail chain stores now and can sometimes be taken advantage of because they don't fall under the protection of the employment standards act.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

I don't see any harm to patients safety if we got paid holidays , extra time pay , minimum wage of $ 40-45 per hour . Even doctors and nurses at emergency take lunch breaks why they didn't consider it harm on patients . If we didn't protect our profession it will decline more and already wages became so low and decreasing annually

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

I don't see any harm to patients safety if we got paid holidays , extra time pay , minimum wage of $ 40-45 per hour . Even doctors and nurses at emergency take lunch breaks why they didn't consider it harm on patients . If we didn't protect our profession it will decline more and already wages became so low and decreasing annually

Public  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

I was shocked to hear pharmacists have no workplace protection. It's senseless to me that we would deliberately deprive any Ontario worker of that.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

I feel strongly that pharmacists need and deserve regular breaks. As a pharmacist for more than thirty years, i have seen work conditions decline and wages plummet. Today's pharmacist is required to do much more than was required when i graduated... med checks, injections, methadone, etc. I believe from both a quality and safety perspective, we owe our clients a pharmacist who is rested and fed. It is time for pharmacists to be included in the Act.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

I believe the exemptions to the ESA were necessary when most pharmacists were the owners of their own pharmacy and when only one pharmacy existed in many communities. However, most pharmacists are now employees of chains, franchises, hospitals, etc. With the abundance of pharmacists and pharmacies within most communities, I no longer see the need for the exemptions to continue. If an overlap of pharmacists is not feasible to allow for nutrition breaks, operating a lock and leave for 30 minutes for a lunch and/or supper break will not jeopardize the health of the public which we serve. Yes, it may be an inconvenience, but we must also consider and respect the health and wellness of employee pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 27, 2017

Pharmacist are human beings who are entitled to simple human rights such eating and using the washroom and simply having breaks in a 8-12 hours shifts. They need to sit and relax in order to give their best to their patients. They are entitled to paid vacations and sick leaves.

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

I believe these exemptions should be discontinued. I think that the job of a pharmacist is important and in the way most pharmacy workflow runs, they are the last line of defense to ensure errors do not occur. I don't see how we can expect a pharmacist to think clearly after a 9+ hour shift with not a single break or note to eat. I have always thought it isn't right that these exemptions apply to such an important professional. I believe it comprises the safety and efficacy of most pharmacies out there. I have worked in 2 pharmacies, one where they apply the exemptions and one where they don't. I can honestly say in my experience that the pharmacy where they allow pharmacists to have food breaks to sit down (are always available to be interrupted if needed) there is far less (if any at all) errors happening in the pharmacy.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

I strongly advocate 30 mins break per shift. It most certainly won't be disruptive to pharmacy workflow as we don't give any stat meds in community environment . I don't care about other previlleges in ESA. But atleast a short break should be made mandatory. We have to stay behind atleast half an hour extra, to finish documentation after every shift on daily basis which is unaccounted for. Government needs to hear our plea and please don't exempt our profession from employment safety act or make some provisions under the act for Pharmacist, we are human beings too.

Pharmacy Technician  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

As a pharmacy technician working both in a hospital and retail, I believe that we all should get a break whether it is for a meal or a break to clear our head /stress, it is very important, as it will ultimately lead reduce the error that will happen. As per the pay and working hours, everyone should be treated equally. Whether it is 12 hours shift or 40+ hours week, everyone should be paid overtime once they reach the maximum shift hours per day. If management don't want to pay the employees’ overtime, they should hire more staff and distribute the working hours evenly so overtime can be minimized.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

First and foremost the minimum wage exception and vacation should be removed as every employer that I have worked for, or interviewed for, has offered entitlements that exceed the current ESA. Amending these exceptions would not impact patient care. Allowing for vacation would improve work life balance and the care that I can provide my patients. Vacation time also gives me time to enroll and complete CE courses to further improve my practice.

Secondly, pharmacist should be entitlement to overtime rates to discourage employers from scheduling greater then 8 hour shifts. I generally work 12 hour shifts and find that I am tired by the end which increases the chances of errors. I also find that my attention span becomes reduced after 8 hours which could impact patient care. Including overtime provisions would discourage long shifts and therefore improve patient care.

Pharmacist should be included in normal sick day provisions as many do not call in sick when they are sick. This is dangerous to patients as pharmacist see many sick and venerable people and could easy spread infections. Additionally, coming to work sick also increases the changes of errors and poor patient care, as a sick pharmacist would not have the same levels of concentration as a healthy person. There currently are many relief agencies and floater pharmacists available to cover shifts so patient access would not be impacted. In community pharmacy a patient can come in at anytime normally, they’re process in place already to ensure continuity of care between pharmacists.

Pharmacists should be entitled to break time as working for 8 or 12 hours without a meal or bathroom breaks is inhumane. Both are these are basic needs for a person. I find it very difficult to eat during a 12 hour shift, sometimes not consuming any food until 8 or 9 hours in. My concentration is reduced as I do get lighted headed from the lack of food which could impact patient care. Having defined breaks would reduce this. Most patients wait 20 minutes or more for prescriptions and often do not come back until the next day. A break in work flow like a most physician offices have would not impact access to medications. There are also many pharmacies, if a patient requires urgent care and can not wait 30 minutes over a lunch break.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

As a pharmacist who has worked at retail setting and closed for lunch in the past and experienced all rush and frustration after opening after lunch, I would say that it is better and less stressful not close the pharmacy and have break and lunch in the back of the pharmacy while still accessible for the patients. Till now , none of them has any problems if they were told that I will be with them in certain period of time or if they need to wait little bit longer for their prescriptions. It is up to us to organize out time and workflow to allow us to have break/ lunch. Being accessible all the time is very important for our patients . We receive calls form the hospital all the time requesting list of the medications for patients. What will happen if pharmacy was closed to allow lunch / break for the pharmacist? What may happen to that patient that can not recall what meds he/ she is on or his/ her allergies and is in need of emergency surgery or procedure? Are we putting our breaks and our comfort before our patients ? Working extra hours has never been a problem as it is busy just certain time of the day , not all the time. However, working more then 12 hours can be sometimes exhausting if it is busy. Being part of a big company I ( and rest of pharmacists, I believe) have never had problems with any vacation request, personal , sick days or any Public Holidays.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

Providing list of current medications and medical conditions, best person is family doctor so should we have a pitition requesting family dr office open 24*7 ? In 4 years of my practise i have never got any call from emergency physician saying give me info right now at this moment otherwise i wont be able to proceed. If that is the case then why we close pharmacy at night as emergencies do happen night too. The question here is are pharmacists equal humans as pharmacy assistants or a cashier or anyone else ? Are they super humans who can work 8-12 hours without eating or resting with 100% efficiency ? If your answer is yes then no comments but if no then there should be legislations to protect employee rights as every other individuals in workforce coz the working environment has changed.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

It’s very hard for any human being to work minimum more Than 8 hours a day up to 12-16 hours a day not having a break , or a lunch break or even to goto the washroom when he gets the urge , that’s against the rights of any human being .

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

We are being asked to do more and more with less and the quality of the services we provide suffer as a result. For the pharmacists' health and patient safety reasons, breaks and benefits should be mandated just as with any other profession.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

Pharmacists are also human beings and needs to fulfill basic needs such as food, using restroom etc. In my experience even 10 minutes break improve the productivity of pharmacists and patient care. Compared to other HCPs such as doctors they are giving free service to their patients. Patients wait double time in doctors office without complain but even 1 min more waiting time makes them impatient. I think we have to change the culture of people regarding pharmacy and pharmacist gradually. Also pharmacist value is decreasing day by day. I think we should return pharmacist dignity. It is really unfortunate that they are paying even 28 to 30 per hour. I think the way we can improve our profession is to separate business from pharmacist job and change it to a system like doctors. This way pharmacist can earn themselves without being dependence to companies. Or at least for their advice and professional information they can get benefit. I also hope the scope of practice can be extended like Alberta college which provide Tx initiation by a program named APA. Pharmacist have good knowledge much more than nurses but not allow to initiate any meds.......

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 28, 2017

Pharmacist should be allowed to take breaks as they are also working for public safety. If there health is not good due to long working hours without breaks, than patient safety may be at risk. OCP primary concern is patient safety. To make dispensing a safe, we need as pharmaceutical industry to make standard break time for Pharmacist. Hope law changes for Pharmacist Patient safety. Healthy Pharmacists make healthy Patients.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

I do believe it is necessary to apply the act, if people are relying on us to provixe them with the best possible service and counseling, it is very important to give the pharmacist a break at least to be able to perform his duties as effeicient through the shift.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

My shifts are 9 or 12 hours. I do not have a specific time to eat. So, I eat when I have no patients waiting which is a different time every shift. Sometimes while I am eating, I need to answer the phone or approach a patient for OTC question. I don’t see that a professional appearance. It is a good idea to have 30 minutes break to sit and eat and refresh our minds.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

Patient safety 1st.whichever way works pharmacist bound to provide seamless patient care. What if pharmacist become a patient by working in a stressful environment, no lunch break, no compensation for staying longer to provide extra exceptional services , no vacation pay plus no security for minimum wages. To balance this exemption should be removed but keeping in a mind patient safety not gone affect. Community pharmacy working with a usually a 1 pharmacist ultimate work output by 1 person,, lots of stress. Rarely we get emergency situations in practice and at emergency departments wait time for patient to see dr is much longer than if pharmacist decide to have a break . For better professional outcome workplace has to be balanced .

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

It is just so ridiculous how these big organizations expect you to perform top Notch with no food / breaks while paying as little as possible. No other regulated profession faces this problem as much as we do and its very unfortunate.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

It is necessity to consider pharmacist under this Act. Working without breaks patient’s health & Safety at risk. Now a day shortage of Staff, working without breaks 8 to 12 hours shift and even not have bathroom break Pharmacist’s health also at risk. Pharmacist are not Robots they are human but Govt considering visa versa as not providing better quality of life to pharmacist by examption from vacation, overtime pay , sick leave and emergency leave instead of quality sevices provided by pharmacist for continuous patient care.I think pharmacist deserves it as most trusted professionals by patient as they are providing quality time for patient.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

I think it is unsafe to the public for the pharmacist to work over 8 hrs without a break. There is tremendous pressure on the pharmacist now, we have to juggle Flu shots, other injections, medchecks along with taking the time to counsel and educate patients. We work with no break, and barely time for a washroom break and always on our feet. There is no doubt this compromises patient safety. In addition we are now required to fulfill quotas for professional services which puts the pharmacist under even more pressure. It should be mandatory to provide pharmacists with breaks, sick leave and stable wages and vacation time. I do not think this would affect quality of care, 15 minutes to eat wouldn't make us less accessible if there is still staff available to accept prescriptions etc. Pharmacists today are treated unprofessionally and we need the support of our college to change this so we can provide the quality care we are required to provide!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

With the existing exemptions, it seems the Ministry of Labour has a bias by protecting the employers (owners) not the employees (staff pharmacists). The Ministry of Labour is violating the Act of Human Rights by imposing oppression and discrimination on pharmacists. The existing exemptions must by removed immediately as they are not fair and considered an insult to pharmacists. With the existing exemptions imposed by the Ministry of Labour, pharmacists lack basic human rights. The Commission of Human Rights in Canada needs to be notified on these exemptions if the Ministry of Labour does not remove them.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

There is absolutely no reason that a pharmacist should be required to work without breaks. NO reason. We are working in a fast paced, stressful RETAIL environment which is mentally and physically exhausting- why should we have to work without breaks ?? Nobody has ever been able to answer that for me. Making patients wait 15-30 minutes to speak to a pharmacist will not be the end of the world. I've waited longer in a Tim Hortons lineup for my coffee!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

Pharmacists in retail environments are being taken advantage of. There are enough pharmacist available to provide coverage for breaks. Overtime should be paid as such. Many pharmacist are working in conditions that create safety issues for themselves and patients. Inclusion into the ESA would ensure large employers are not taking advantage of these situations. The pharmacy environment has changed, there are multiple pharmacies in most areas. If a pharmacy does need to close for 30 minutes, it shouldn't affect patients. If they need mediation that quickly it likely isn't something that should be treated in a retail store. Most pharmacies offer free delivery as well, so a drop off slot for their prescription and free delivery wouldn't even cause any inconvenience.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

I am currently one of the lucky ones where my retail pharmacy has more than one full-time pharmacist during work hours. We are given full 30min lunch breaks, washroom breaks as needed, sick time if needed, chairs to sit, overtime if we work >44 hours per week, and minimum 3 weeks paid vacation.

Having worked in other retail pharmacies where these basic rights are not offered, employers (usually large corporations) take advantage of the situation to save on their bottom line. Corporations tend to care more about the bottom line than actual patient care. Pharmacists are NOT at their best, nor provide their best clinical judgments when they are tired and overworked. Patient safety should always come first and things are not safe if pharmacists aren't at their cognitive best. Pharmacies are being run as purely money-oriented businesses vs. patient care nowadays. While we're at it, quotas should not be given on MedChecks nor expanded scopes of practice (prescription adaptations, renewals, flu shots, vaccinations) - it is a waste of healthcare dollars and should be done when a pharmacist deems those services necessary for the patient.

Nothing is so urgent that a pharmacist cannot take a break. If it is that urgent, the person should be at the ER and not the community pharmacy. I do agree the pharmacist should stay on-site and be available if someone does have an emergency that requires CPR/first aid in order to assist while awaiting an ambulance. Doctors are able to create their own schedules and have 1 to 2 hour lunch breaks. Hospital employees (including other healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, nurses, OT, PT, dieticians, etc.) are given mandated breaks, vacation, overtime, etc. Why should retail pharmacists be any different?

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

I work overnights. Totally a different experience than a day time work when your brain can take pause for a while. Sometimes couldn’t even able to drink one 500ml of water bottle in 10 hours. Your brain has work with extreme caution and with smooth pace which is easier said than done. With an extended scope of practice and over expectations from the employer and customers, you could easily exhaust yourself within few hours. There must be breaks in the shifts. About 99% Rx are non-urgent. They can wait. I don’t still completely understand the role of pharmacy technicians. What work load of pharmacist are they sharing??? At the end pharmacist still has to sign. The breaks will prevent human errors. So increase safety for the patients. Pharmacist on break means he/she is still in pharmacy so access is not a problem. Also minimum wage ahould be set up. Its a shame for the profession that some pharmacists are working at $25/hour.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

A pharmacy technician is extremely helpful in a busy pharmacy. They are able to take the technical checks off the plate of the pharmacist thereby allowing us to focus on the therapeutics of a prescription rather than checking to see if the medication in the vial matches the label. This is very much similar to a hospital setting where pharmacists do the order entry and therapeutic checks which improves efficiency whilst pharmacy technicians fill, label, and cross-check the actual product.

Pharmacy Assistant  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

I am a pharmacy student at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and have worked in a pharmacy for a little over 2 years now. It is imperative to at least allow for a lunch break or 2 shorter breaks for pharmacists. Having worked at a few stores, I have had the opportunity to observe allowed breaks with multiple pharmacists working is key. Without breaks, pharmacists subject themselves to often 12 hr shifts, risking patient safety, efficiency, and their own health. As it is every workers right in Ontario (and Canada) to have these breaks, it is long overdue for pharmacists to have theirs. At the very least, a compromise should be made for either allowing breaks or allowing the pharmacy to be closed for 15 - 30 minutes during non-busy hours (e.g. closed from 1:00 - 1:30 pm).

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

Pharmacist deserve a break as well as paid vacations. Aren’t pharmacists similar to other human beings? Nowadays even the wage rate for Pharmacists isn’t so high that they could be declined these advantages.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 29, 2017

I will just picture my experience and someone can easily find out how important is the change to make for the pharmacist. I work 40 to 50 hours in a week and we do almost 600 to 900 prescription a day. Most of the patient here are seniors who has tons of questions and confusions. People call it a zoo. Now nobody is expecting quick or immediate dispensing. However, everyone will be more than happy if they gets the prescription at the earliest. In this tremendous pressure, if the pharmacist doesn't get any break (for may be food or rest), chance of making errors are very likely and one mistake is enough to cause damage. Also in this set up, maximum 8 hours is enough otherwise the nervous breakdown can happen. one of our senior pharmacist has already requested to get early retirement. Pharmacist will definitely work over time when needed but overtime pay should be made as like others. This is i think very basic need. This is novel profession however some of the middleman is taking all the butter out of the income of the pharmacist as now the supply got higher than the demand (I think). But to keep this profession novel for long time, there should be a minimum wage which may be 50 dollars range. As the minimum wage is getting higher to 15 dollars from next year, there would be a huge inflation and this is to cope up this situation. Personal emergency leave is also very important. Nobody wants to get that leave for no reason and that reason is very strong when the pharmacist need to take it. Now there may be situation where there is only one pharmacy around and patient may need to wait for break hours of the pharmacist. I think this is also reasonable as Pharmacist is a human being and not a robot. Nobody wants to make error and situation has impact on making errors.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

Pharmacists should be included and protected by labour laws. It is not unreasonable for pharmacists to get a 30 minute break when working a 12 hour shift. Most pharmacies offer delivery services and if the patient cannot wait for their prescription then they would have the option of it being delivered. I have also seen pharmacies like Costco in the US where the break time is posted along with pharmacy hours. Most pharmacists are under a lot of pressure to work alone and multi task with organizations cutting back labor. It would be highly appreciated if we were given a short break for lunch and to use the washroom.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

I am actually against removing the exception for pharmacists. ESA cannot force corporations to close the pharmacy for a pharmacist lunch break. The most likely scenario will be that they will just cut your pay by one half hour to officially give you a "lunch break", but the quantity of work will be the same. That's what I will do at my store as I cannot afford overlap.

In regards to long shifts, I enjoy working the full day as I can work 4 days a week! I agree that working conditions should be improved for the sake of patient care, but ESA/OCP cannot enforce a lot of the complaints pharmacists have i.e. lack of support, long hours, compensation etc...

Full disclosure: I am a designated manager of an independent pharmacy.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

There should always be at least one person working in the dispensary with the pharmacist at all times. Pharmacists often work alone for several hours at the start and end of the day. Having a second person increases employee safety, that the pharmacist can go to the washroom and/or eat without being interrupted, and minimal gaps in patient care. It can help decrease employee stress and will help prevent dispensing errors as well. Many dispensing errors can be attributed to fatigue and lack of help. We devote so much time taking care of our patients and will continue to do so. But our health and wellbeing in the workplace matter as well.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

Unfortunately big companies are ruining the profession by running it like a business only ignoring the business ethics and only focused profit, Pharmacists are being poorly treated with no rights, no raises, competition to do drop the market value/hourly rates and make fake promises cause they know they can do it and get away with it. E.g I was in the middle of having a snack while checking RXs but apparently that wasn't good enough for the pharmacy owner who had the nerve to ask me to leave my snack and go do a medscheck!!! Instead of offering full-time positions, they split the hours between 2 to 3 part-time pharmacists to avoid paying benefits which I find very unethical.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

It is so unfair that pharmacists have to work 12 hour shifts without proper breaks. At the end of my 12 hour shift yesterday, I was frustrated and deeply unhappy about my choice of profession. I am glad that we are finally discussing this issue, and its a shame that pharmacists have received such unfair treatment and disrespect for so many years!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

The only problem that we, as Pharmacists, have difficulties with are doing long shifts with no opportunity to eat. When you work thru a normal lunch period for example because people come to the pharmacy at that time, then you get low blood sugar, rumbling stomach and you can not concentrate....add this to inablity to take a bathroom break...makes for a difficult lifestyle...then you add on midnight shifts, 2 weekend shifts/mo and looking after a family...very is always at the mercy of your employer. The public are not always understanding nor kind. Extra services to bring income to a pharmacy is the balance must be managed by experts who can organize and multitask well. if you do not have proper support staff then the difficulties can be intensified.
Having said the above, I love my job and I rise to the occasion to meet challenges and an anxious to solve problems...but not on an empty stomach and not unless I can leave for a bathroom break. is a huge problem.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

Pharmacist are working tirelessly for the best interest of Canadians and for corporations as well. But but unfortunately nobody cares and they treat like a slaves and taking all the goodness as a granted.

it is a very sad time for the pharmacist

Looks like almost everyone forgets that we are also humans who needs food and water

It's going to be very rewarding for everyone if you can understand the real fundamental problems.

Those people who are deciding whether pharmacist should get a break or not ...a group of people to go any organization and stand there for half an hour and see what it looks like.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

Take away the exemption and treat working pharmacists the way you would expect any human being to be treated. If this continues, there will be a challenge to current working conditions from human rights.

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

Exemptions for pharmacists currently under the ESA should be removed and pharmacists allowed formal uninterrupted breaks, sick leave and benefits other employees enjoy as pharmacists are human beings too! We work long shifts and we remain standing for the whole shift. Some big companies allow their staff to close for meal time similar to doctors' offices this should be mandatory for all pharmacies.. OCP, OPA and the Ontario government need to help pharmacists further educate the public about the importance of a pharmacists' job and that patience from all involved is needed to ensure thorough, accurate dispensing and counselling leading to less stress for all. Big corporations continue to care only about their bottom line by insisting on quotas of professional activities with minimal support staff for the pharmacist (usually only one pharmacist is on duty and they must do their regular work in addition to the professional activities or suffer consequences such as termination) If the pharmacist and pharmacy staff are not taken care of, ultimately, it is not just them who are in harms way but also the public as an overworked, stressed, unhappy , ill pharmacist cannot provide proper care to their patients. We are health professionals yet the work conditions we face by our employers are deplorable and jeopardize our own health. The tremendous amount of unnecessary stress contributes to many illnesses. So please have a moral backbone and remove these exemptions from the ESA and ensure pharmacists as well as all employees are taken care of in a HAPPY, SAFE , POSITIVE work environment. A healthier and happier society will fuel performance, achievement, and save costs and ultimately improve a company's bottom line. Good and fair employment standards are every employees right!

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 30, 2017

I definitely agree with allowing for meal/rest periods from a safety perspective. It would only enhance patient care. I would love to see overtime pay in place as I do believe there are times when it is not appropriate to have a cap on time worked but we should be compensated for giving up time with our families to maintain the care required.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

These exemptions existing in this current pharmacy environment is basically the provincial government trying to have its cake and eat it, too, at the expense of patient and pharmacist safety. The changes to the reimbursement model for pharmacies that Ontario had implemented have resulted in large corporations trying to minimize their losses by abusing the human rights of pharmacists, which the province has turned a blind eye towards in order extract as much value it can from the profession without the required funding. Pharmacists are being forced to leave their profession because they can not continue to endure the physical and psychological demands that are being placed on them. If something is not done to address the issues that have been created here, the pharmacy profession will die a slow death as no one will wish to enter a career where they must abdicate their fundamental rights in order to earn lower and lower wages. Cancelling these exemptions is a starting point. Greater regulation must exist for pharmacies themselves to ensure they are not setting quotas for professional services as this is not only unethical, but it overburdens the health care system with medreviews that serve no benefit but to profit corporations. It also devalues these services and the profession as a whole.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

Being a pharmacist, I value the importance of patient care, but at the same time the pharmacists are also human beings and deserve a quality working standards such as eating periods or wash room breaks which are basic needs of any person. The person who promotes healthy lifestyle can themself not able to maintain one for themself not seems fair.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

The Pharmacy 30 day challenge: I issue a Thirty Day Challenge to the Board of Directors and all staff of the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP); Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA); and every Board of Directors, Associate, Designated Manager, and each Regional manager of every franchise pharmacy in the Province of Ontario. In this challenge, you will wear the white coat of an OCP regulated Pharmacist and remain in compliance with the spirit and principles of the Exemptions and Exclusions of the employment Standards Act, and the regulations of the Ontario College of Pharmacists, regarding accepted practices within the dispensary.

What this means, for the next Thirty Days of work (not including days off), you will have to stay at your designated work area, no breaks for eating, no consuming food or drinking coffee in front of your computer, and not going down the hall to the bathroom. For your entire shift, you must be available to the general public (for this challenge, no closing your door), answer your own phone, and whenever someone asks you a question, to answer it to the satisfaction of the client, then document the interaction in written form on paper or your computer. You must communicate in compliance of the Personal Privacy Acts. All of your work must be completed before you leave at the end of the day. You may not leave your designated work place, for any reason, including attending a sick child, parent, spouse; attending a funeral; hospital emergency department; your children's school; going to the bathroom; or any other life event until you arrange a qualified replacement. Did I mention that you can not sit at your desk or in a chair, but must stand to perform all of your duties.........

For those who accept this challenge, and complete the requirements, I would appreciate knowing how many would voluntarily accept this exemption for the next thirty years. I would like to hear from those in the regulatory, association and those who benefit financially from this work environment, why they consider this practice to be acceptable in 2017.

In reading the various comments and complaints from the Pharmacists, there are many concerns relating to the inability to eat, to go to the bathroom, and long hours of work. When OCP formally prohibited the consumption of food and drinks in the designated dispensing area, the pharmacists complied with the regulation. What should have occurred at this time was that the dispensing areas should have been re-designed to include a small area with a bathroom and an area for the consumption of food. If you can put a bathroom and small kitchen in an RV, you can easily design an acceptable unit close to the "designated dispensary". This is the clear responsibility of the pharmacy owner/franchise chain to use some floor space to permit bio-breaks to their staff. More space is dedicated to the sale of bottled water and drinks, than to facilities to permit body functions of the staff. For many large box stores, the pharmacist has to leave the dispensing area to go to the built in McDonalds to go to the bathroom.

Many provinces/territories have guidelines on "Lock and Leave" for pharmacies. If the Pharmacist has to attend a funeral, the main pharmacy can be open, and the dispensing/counselling area can be kept closed. Again, this requires spending some money. Many of the potential solutions are financial, however, all the risks are carried by the pharmacist.

In summary, I see no reason to have pharmacists excluded from the Employment Standards Act.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

All pharmacist exemptions should be removed. In the current retail practice atmosphere, pharmacists are essentially employees of large corporations, but receive no protections of abuse from these corporations. I've worked 3x14 hour days back to back, with no designated lunch or no designated breaks. Pharmacists are already being pushed to practice well outside their bounds of comfort (with decreasing staffing levels and increasing quotas), so the lack of employment standards protection only adds to their mental/physical fatigue, and increasingly puts patients (and pharmacists) at significant risk of negative outcomes. All pharmacist exemptions need to be removed. Their existence creates an inhuman working environment in retail. Most hospitals already provide the employment standard coverage voluntarily.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

It is certainly encouraging that the Ontario government is looking to overhaul the Employment Standards, and noteworthy is that they had asked OCP, instead of OPA (nothing against the OPA). Is there not a correlation between physical/mental well-being of pharmacists and public safety? In other jurisdictions, the professional governing bodies even prescribe assistant:pharmacist ratios (lots of data from their experience we can learn from). And no, the one employment place that closes for lunch cannot hire all pharmacists. This leads to the next point. This company (a foreign corporation) knows that although pharmacists are, for unbelievably absurd reasons, exempt from the Employment Standards (when most pharmacists are employees), still allows the pharmacy department to close for lunch just like they do in their home country for the past x number of years, and there have been no public uproar that I have read about, no harm done to the public (because pharmacists need to eat lunch and cannot serve them for 30 minutes). So, they have set precedent, and amending the Employment Standard is not an experiment. Or, you can continue to counsel the public about long term side effects of PPI, and instead of hearing you, the public hears the growling sound of your tummy, and feels bad for you. There was an option in the other survey, where you they suggest the pharmacist can eat, but they will just have Regulated Techs not eat and cover for you. I suppose if they include pharmacists back in the Employment Standard, somebody else will have to be excluded?

Public  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

As a pharmacist emeritus having practiced the profession for 47 years with the current standards in place I feel this current status allows us professional freedom. If you don't want to miss lunch, work long shifts and miss vacations, make a professional decision for your own health and safety. We do this for our patients with every prescription filled. Do we want it legislated how much time each patient or prescription or procedure should take? If your employer doesn't care about your health and well-being, does it care about the patient's.? Being a professional 24/7 doesn't mean working 24/7, set your own boundaries and triage your time and responsibilities ; other professionals do this. They establish appointment based practices in some cases. Be confident. Be professional. Do not relinquish your freedom of choice in when and how you deliver pharmaceutical care.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 2, 2017

Gone are the days where we actually have professional freedom. Unless you are the employer or work for a great employer, all professionals now are running into this issue. Interns not being paid to work, lawyer clerks being run around the clock, medical residents staying up 36+ hours, etc. I personally know other professionals such as lawyers and accountants who work for big firms and are treated the same way we are - expected to do more for less with no basic human rights. Being a professional in the past generally meant that the public understood you had higher education and treated you with respect - that is not the case anymore. Corporations are taking over many independents and with that, the human touch of things. The demand for pharmacists are no longer high and so we (especially newer graduates) do not have benefit of picking and choosing who they want to work for in order to pay off high student debts while trying to take care of family and save up for housing and retirement.

One can be as confident and professional as they want but a corporation will tell you what they need from you and if you don't perform you're the first one out the door. Standing up for our profession is great but how many of us can afford the cost of losing our job and livelihood?

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

I work in a busy pharmacy doing almost 500 prescription per day which roughly accounts for checking 1 prescription per 2 minutes. Factor patients consultations and responding phone calls from patients and doctors together with flu shots during fall season in this time frame. We are indirectly putting patients at harm to reach this unrealistic goals which has become a norm in today's pharmacy business. We perform all this duties without any breaks throughout the 8 hour shift. Sometimes we are also required to close at midnight and reopen the store at 8 in the morning which gives less than 8 hours between shift to rest considering someone leaving within 30 min. drive from the work. Currently, if I am sick I am responsible to find a replacement for myself. If I could not find someone I have to cover the shift which again compromise patient safety.

I highly recommend giving pharmacist the same number of breaks during 8 hour shift as everyone else to be able to function efficiently. This also applies for weekends and long weekends. There should be a better system for sick days for pharmacist. Putting patient at risk for continuity of care is not a good balance.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

I support including pharmacists under the Employment Standard Act mainly for over time pay

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

It does come down to both public and pharmacist safety. There should be a law that prohibits working continuously without getting breaks. I practically have to beg for me to eat if I am lucky lunch at 3pm (12 hour shifts). I get very cranky when I am hungry for a biological reason and this affects my relationship with my patients and co-workers. We work thru dizzy spells and headaches when we hold our pee and hunger. I know I share this with a lot of my colleagues issues with our healths to chronic acid reflux, leg/hip/back pains and hypertension all work related. It is ridiculously inhumane.

It is funny that everytime I talk to another person outside pharmacy about these work conditions I always get 'but isn't it in the labour law that you get breaks?'. It is almost incomprehensible to another human being these work conditions.

There are days I feel so much pity for myself asking myself 'is it really too much to ask for basic human needs of proper bathroom breaks and lunch??'

If we expect that as a profession that we take care of another human being, it is time we also take care of ourselves and in turn we can give more. We cannot give something when we do nkt have it ourselves.

This is LONG over-due.

Pharmacy Assistant  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

Pharmacists are not a machine. Human needs break. A break should be mandatory for a busy workplace. Lot has been published that directly link human performance and importance of taking break/vacation. There is no doubt that proper break time can reduce the odds of dispensing error and increase productivity. Standing (as most of the employer doesn't keep chair or stool ) for 8 to 12 hours without break for meal/coffee is a clearly unfair working condition for a pharmacist.

In order to utilize ministry funding most appropriately/productively, the number of billing for med review per pharmacist per day and per year must have the cap. (e.g max 1 med review a day or 100 med reviews a year per pharmacist). Making med review lengthier is a less wise approach. ODB/OCP should control billing for med review –that will ease pressure on pharmacist from an employer.

12 hours shifts for 4 consecutive days, closing at 12 midnight and opening early morning should not be allowed. Agencies are deteriorating profession very rapidly and employer utilizing those salary data to further reduce pay for the pharmacist.

Minimum wage, Rx/day/pharmacist, Med review/day/year/pharmacist should have some range. There is no harm giving other benefits like vacation pay, overtime etc, Current, salary for the pharmacist is not attractive and they deserve these benefits as other employees.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 1, 2017

I do agree that all Pharmacists should be given at least 15 to 30 minutes paid break but remain on site . I have been in situations where I work non stop and I could not eat. Not having a break to eat can make some people sugar levels go down whereby the person feels dizzy, edgy etc.It is good that we think about our patients but if Pharmacists do not take care of their health who will ? .We do so much but get very little respect .

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 2, 2017

Pharmacist needs break to rest their body and mind so they can focus more and make less mistakes. I remembered during my last pregnancy time how I survived with no break,low blood pressure and low sugar and not ate anything during 8 hours shift. Most time I replied on sugar tablets and ensure drinks while checking scripts to keep going. And that’s not good reason for medical leave either. After 8 hours exhausted shift and no food, even after going home I have almost zero energy to eat. Only I can do is sleep on empty stomach. This is really inhuman. Please work on hours and break time.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 2, 2017

The exemptions for pharmacists under the current Employment Standards Act should absolutely be abolished. Working in big chain stores, I have experienced the worst treatment as unscrupulous employers took full advantage of the fact that they were not required to give me any breaks or pauses for lunch, overtime, and even paid national holidays. It made me feel like I was being treated like a non-human, and absolutely is not fair as I am not a robot and need proper breaks and a chance to eat, go to the bathroom and refresh my mind every bit as much as my assistants or the cashiers do. There is absolutely no reason why pharmacists should be exempt. Allowing us fair treatment and breaks doesn’t translate into worse patient outcomes such as breaking in the middle of surgery or making someone wait while they are bleeding out. We are not working in that kind of emergency environment...An employer tried to justify the exemptions to me before by saying that doctors and nurses are also exempt. And when we are dealing with busy stressful periods, we are professionals and know when it is not appropriate to take breaks. And also, many of the exempted professionals do still get breaks or work for themselves or in their own practices where they can decide if and when they take a break. But pharmacists in many cases in big box stores have to swipe in and swipe out on the time clock just like everyone else at the start and end of shift. We’re just expected to be “on” at all times during the shift. And in our industry, there are many, many employers who take full advantage of that. We should be protected from this abuse. For our sanity and health, for patient safety to reduce the likelihood of us making mistakes, and for equal rights, we should absolutely not be exempt from these employment standards.

Public  ·  Dec. 2, 2017

Pharmacists should be treated as others under the employment standards act. They need to have paid lunch breaks every 5 hours. We need our Pharmacists to be alert to protect the public. They are an intelligent, caring bunch who often look stressed due to overwork and for many under employment.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 2, 2017

Working long shifts without breaks , is too much... not right

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 2, 2017

As a pharmacist, I think that it is the last moment to remove the work place exemptions and return the dignity to our profession. Most of my shifts are 12 hours long without break to eat, use the washroom etc. With the new, extended scope of practice it is even worse. I find myself so overwhelmed with too many tasks that sometimes I have to postpone everything for 10 minutes to recollect. From many of my colleagues I've heard that it is very hard to find a job, and on the other side if you work you are like a slave. No breaks, no wage increase ,long working ours and bitterness that even as health professionals we do not get any appreciation from the province. I was thrilled with this notion to regulate the gray area in our profession, and I fully support the changes.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

Pharmacists are expected to work long hours these days and without technician and no break due to cut budget or profit decrease whether it is an independent store or franchise. If reject the 12 or 15 hours, the pharmacist will not giving any shift at all. Also, pharmacist is expected to do much more now, i.e. medscheck, vaccination, trainng of naloxone kit, smoking cessation. Doing so many tasks require a lot of energy to be able to concentrate without mistakes. Pharmacist has to do the cashier jobs and all technical duties that are used to be done by the technician in the past. Pharmacist has to deal with customers' questions almost imimediately or within a short period of time. Which profession allows customers or patients to talk to the professional immediately and sometimes they ask questions in a way to give us a chance to test our knowledge, not ask for advice with appreciation. I feel pharmacists work like slaves without any protection by law or regulatory body and many liabilties which the wage and working conditons do not justify. The employers want to avoid to give any benefit to pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

I think a pharmacist should have breaks , lunch and for sure time to visit the washroom without being harassed by customers or employers . The wait time at the emergency room is 6-7 hours and the wait time at walk in clinic is at least one hour and at specialist is 2 hours at least after six month wait for the appointment .can we get treated as professionals too. I think the college should enforce the amount of labor hours related to the amount of prescriptions Another suggestion is to enforce upper management to be a practising pharmacist on a monthly basis so the goals they set can be achievable.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

Most of the complaints here are that pharmacists are too busy to eat/drink/ go to washroom etc. But if we take 30min lunch and 15 min breaks wouldn't the workload per hour just increase? The same amount of work must be done but the hours of work has decreased and I feel like this will put even more stress on the pharmacist. There is no law that currently prohibits the pharmacist to go to the washroom or eat. If they need to, the pharmacist can (under current exemption) just give longer wait times and go eat a quick lunch. if you don't do that it is because the workload is too high, not because pharmacists are exempted from having breaks. And if your workload is too high right now, having mandatory breaks and lunch will inevitably make your workload higher. Some people are complaining about the low wage. Most employers do not pay for lunch breaks. So having mandatory lunch breaks would also decrease your pay by another 30min per day. Most employers already offer 4+% vacation pay and sick pay so I don't think that area needs to be changed. In terms of work hours. There should not be a cap on the number of hours worked. Because some pharmacies are only open for 10-12h and putting a cap would either force the pharmacy to close earlier or have split 5-6 hour shifts. Both of which would negatively impact patients and pharmacists. Also, most overnight pharmacists rely on working longer hours per day and working week on week off. Putting a cap on number of hours worked per day or per week would negatively impact most overnight positions. Currently I work 12h shifts but only 3 to 4 days a week and I would like to continue this rather than work 6 hour shifts for 5-6 days a week. It would be very hard for pharmacists to keep full time hours in pharmacies that open for 10-12 hours because there is often no overlap allowed (if there was a 8h cap on work hours). In conclusion I think the exemption should be maintained. Although I do think lunch and other breaks are important, I feel like mandatory breaks would simply increase the workload per hour. This would put more stress on the pharmacist which would increase medication errors and affect patient safety. The pharmacist should eat when it is not busy, but be available if they are needed for something urgent.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

Your point is 100% right that it will increase work load but the pharmacists Working in busy pharmacy, workload is never ending journey. Everyday there is more and more amount of work that needs to be done with less and less support. Now if any normal individual doesn't eat, it may affect one's ability to focus and work. If lunch breaks and rest periods were useless then why all other employees and professionals take it ? With regard to workload we need to have discussion as well but let us at least have right to eat and rest a bit coz it would be step in right direction. As burned out pilot may crash the plane same way burned out pharmacists make more errors and these errors are dangerous too. That puts public at RISK. so for public safety ! Please let pharmacists eat.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

So what if it increases the workload. To balance the equation, maybe its high time owners and corporations hired more staff to meet the demands of their businesses/ practices. And I believe it is necessary for our regulatory body to become more involved in standards of practice dealing with adequate staffing levels to meet the daily demands of providing safe patient care. Simply read most of these comments. The message is very obvious.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

I got opportunités to work in different pharmacy set ups.. At hospital pharmacy , pharmacists get scheduled breaks and they have coverage..on retail set up it doesnt happen.. Long 12 hours and even more non stop work leaves u like a dead meat at the end of the day and for the next day as well.. U dont drink water.. U dont eat properly and u will counsell the patient about being healthy and stress free.. There should be a standardised law to help all the pharmacist in regards to break and wages.. And an option to approach govt in case the standars are not met

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

I believe that many of the exemptions are contributing to fatigue, burnout, sub-optimal decision-making and poor nutritional habits (i.e. long gaps between meals, extremely fast eating). These have effects on the long-term health/well-being of pharmacists, their health burden on the public and private (read: employer-paid) systems and the overall longevity of pharmacist careers in given settings.

Thank you.

Community pharmacies are at the same triage-level as general practitioner offices. As a result, emergent cases can be given STAT treatments at the hospital and others can wait. It would be prudent for all pharmacies to make closure/break times available to all other local health care providers.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

Pharmacists should NOT be exempt to ESA and be protected under ESA labour laws including schedule lunch time. Exemption practically means workplace fatigue and exhaustion, ultimately leading to patient harm. Because of substandard conditions (lack of bathroom/lunch breaks), there is a sense of job job dissatisfaction & frustration.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

Maintaining Exemptions - Best access to pharmacy care. People can come in at any time that the pharmacy is open. It is very convenient and easy for patients.

-May decrease the quality and safety of pharmacy care to patients, especially if the pharmacist is doing many tasks at the same time with insufficient support. With the advent of increasing scope of practice (which has led to pharmacists checking prescriptions, doing injections, doing MedChecks), and decreased funding to pharmacies from the government (which has led to less assistant support for pharmacists and less qualified assistants helping the pharmacist because they are less expensive). Most pharmacists in Ontario are practicing to their maximum productivity. However, companies have quotas, which push pharmacists even more and this is where quality and safety can be adversely affected.

Removing Exemptions -Less access to pharmacy care especially for customers with a full time job who only have the lunch hour or dinner hour to go to a pharmacy. If they also have children to take care of, then there is less time for these families to visit the pharmacy. However, since retail stores are open 7 days a week, they could come on the weekend. Retired customers or those who are not employed full-time can come at times outside of lunch hour and dinner time.

-May increase the quality and safety of pharmacy care to patients. Pharmacists who can re-fuel (by eating and using the bathroom) perform at a more optimal level and can better deal with complicated drug interactions and recommendations to the doctor, reviewing the details of a vaccine that they need to administer (and have not done before – deciding if it is intramuscular or subcutaneous), serve the 6 people in the waiting room who all want flu shots, doing a detailed MedCheck with an elderly patient who is confused about their medication, counselling a hospital discharge patient who has numerous medications and ensuring they understand the medications so they do not have to be readmitted to hospital, setting up a confused senior on the blister packs so that they can be kept safely at home as long as possible.

Benefits for Staff Pharmacists -Ensure a minimum wage to reflect the education and training that pharmacists have. With companies under paying pharmacists, students will take much longer to pay off student loans, established pharmacists will have to sell their homes and live more modestly. Conversely, teachers have salary protection through a union that negotiates their salary and benefits with the government. Their rates are not being cut like pharmacist rates are. A minimum wage for staff pharmacists is a good idea, however this rate should be reasonable. A minimum of $50.00 per hour would be a start. Pharmacists have not had a cost of living wage increase for the past several years. With inflation, our earning power decreases over time. Would we get cost of living increases annually? -Ensuring hours of work are no more than 44 hours per week. Overtime should be paid after that. Ensuring that each pharmacist gets 2 consecutive days off in a row to ensure adequate rest. If a pharmacist works 8 hours and has a 30 minute unpaid lunch, then the hours of work per week could decrease to 37.5 hours. If a pharmacist works 12 hours, they should have a 30 minute unpaid lunch and a 15 minute paid break. -Ensuring 4% vacation pay is paid and mandating that pharmacists actually take time off to rest and refresh (in lieu of just getting paid). Society does not need exhausted pharmacists dispensing. It is not safe. -Ensuring pharmacists are paid for stat holidays. -All Ontario pharmacists should not sign off on any exemption. We do not need two levels of pharmacists. This would lead to companies bypassing the laws and only hiring pharmacist who are willing to sign away their rights. -Personal Emergency Leave – pharmacist should be able to leave work to attend important life events. ie. death of a family member, medical emergency etc. without being charged with professional misconduct. Currently the market is flooded with pharmacists. It would be possible, but perhaps expensive to hire a relief pharmacist.

I would be in favor of removing the exemptions because the quality and safety of pharmacy care would improve for patients. My ambivalence lies with the ambiguity of what the government will choose to do with pharmacists minimum wage. Will pharmacists be treated fairly?

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 3, 2017

I strongly agree that exemptions should be made for this profession, as many others. Pharmacist is a live person as any other, who needs to take water and some food and use washroom, that is all considered as basic physiological needs. Average shift is stressful and demanding and scope of practice is expanded more and more every couple of months, and work conditions and support is worsening. Expanded scope of practice is promoted under parole " Do better and more for your patients" and enjoy satisfaction of the profession, but only think we really get is same wage for years with more education requirements and feeling that most of us are so drained and useless for anything else in personal and family life after job, and that's just not right and sustainable. I am sure that there are long term consequences on health for people who work in described environment. Changes have to be made!

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

I have previously voiced my position on the exemptions as it applies to pharmacists.

I merely want to state a few important things to consider regarding a decision to modify, reform and legislate any changes as it applies to the business of pharmacy as well as rights of pharmacists. 1. The OCP regulates all pharmacies and pharmacists in the province with documented codes of ethics and standards of practice. It's purpose as a regulatory body is to ensure public safety. It also hears cases of complaints as well as professional misconduct. With the many changes to professional practice over the past decade, I wonder what the correlations between dispensing errors and workload as well as existing employment standards (absence of lunch and breaks) really are. Having read many previous submissions from members, a common theme exists. Patient safety. 2. A few years back, CBC Marketplace ran a segment on dispensing errors. Many stakeholders were interviewed by Marketplace. The son who's mother passed away from a drug interaction caused by an antibiotic with her chronic heart medication was reported. There was a discussion of the error. The CPHA had little to offer. Two pharmacists who are employed with a large pharmacy corporation had their identities and voices masked as they spoke freely about the stresses of everyday practice. I recalled one of them stated he would replay all the prescriptions he checked and dispensed in one shift when he got home. He told the interviewer he hoped he didn't commit any errors. The corporation for which these pharmacists worked for declined an on camera request to comment.

Clearly there is something amiss here. Pharmacists need a set of standards that protect them in the workplace. It is through legislation that will provide basic human rights to a workplace that offers lunch breaks as well as two daily 15 minute breaks. All other issues related to the ESAO need overhauling. Through the provision of removing these exemptions, pharmacists will be better equipped to offer the professional services they have been trained to provide. And who knows, maybe just maybe the College and the ISMP might find itself with lessened cases of reported errors. Just my final thoughts.

I hope you get it right!

A link to the Marketplace episode is provided. While it may have an unknown relationship with employment standards as they apply to pharmacists, I think it provides relevant optics in our ever changing daily practices.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

In my last post, I included a link to a segment of CBC Marketplace. The link provided does not work. The correct link is as follows. My apologies.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

I strongly agree with removing the exemption. Pharmacists are humans, not machines. It is no secret that in the last several years, the traditional pharmacy landscape has become swallowed by big box stores/corporations and no longer pharmacist-majority owned at the senior management level. In addition, government cuts to pharmacy services and a heavily saturated market of practicing pharmacists have combined to create a competitive working environment that is largely focused on profits rather than patient care. Pharmacists are expected to work long/irregular hours without any breaks while taking on several expanded scope services with no extra compensation. If pharmacists don't meet these expectations, they are easily replaced by someone else.

It is very difficult to be an effective and compassionate pharmacist when these forces are all on your shoulders. It has created an environment with pressure to meet flu shot / med checks quotas rather than creating the optimal environment for patient care. With an unstable job and pressure for profits/quotas, the last thing you have time to worry about is a chance to drink water or use the bathroom.

While the law may have been legitimately used in the prior traditional pharmacy landscape, it is not relevant today - particularly in the retail sector. Unfortunately, these exemptions are clearly and openly being abused by many (big box) pharmacies to get the most out of its employees without regard for their own well being and ability to service their patients as a healthcare professional. It would be a huge disservice to patient safety and patient care if these exemptions remain.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017
  1. Pharmacists should be allowed to take a mandatory 30 min lunch hour break, however should be readily accessible when needed.
  2. Minimum wage for Pharmacist = $42 / hr and every year this to be reviewed with respect to inflation and consumer price index.
  3. Personal Emergency Leave to be an exempt and exclusion for pharmacist too, irrespective of unforeseen circumstances.
  4. Directors of the Corporation (49 % shareholders), should be equally liable and accountable as a member of the college.
Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

Pharmacists are facing more and more pressures at the work site. With expanded scope such as providing flu shots and travel vaccines, with the potential for pharmacists to begin prescribing for minor ailments we absolutely need mandated time to nourish our minds with food. I am not sure if any one else out there has worked while you are starving but your thought process begins to cloud. We aren't doing simple mental tasks, we have a great deal of responsibility to the public. When we aren't functioning optimally because we haven't eaten since we have arrived to our job, we are a risk. As for overtime pay, corporations have very much taken advantage of not having to pay us overtime. Pharmacists should be compensated additionally for working additional hours beyond a full time job (40 hrs/week). Not related to this post, but providing feedback none the less, corporations are very much taking advantage of our professional services. Is OCP aware that pharmacists, aside from their salary, do not/rarely see any of the compensation from the government for providing services? Not a cent. To make it worse, we have quotas and mandates to perform said services so that we can fill some DM/CEO's pockets. There should be a mandate that at least a fraction of clinical service fees charged to the government would be compensated to the pharmacist providing that fee. Also, there should be more advocacy from our college to make sure we are equitably compensated for our services, compared to other health care professionals providing the same or similar services.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

I am advocating on behalf of community Pharmacist colleagues for a mandatory lunch break.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

We need to be advocating breaks and removing pay freeze where applicable.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

The culture in pharmacy around long shifts with no breaks is ridiculous. Breaks for food, bathroom use, mental health should be mandatory in all health professions in the interest of patient care. Long working hours/late nights in the community setting should be an individual decision but should generally be discouraged. There are few if any medical scenarios that cannot wait until the next day. Please remove pharmacists from these archaic exemptions and support best evidence for health and well being. Thank you.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

In order to provide quality service and care to our patients, pharmacist should be allowed to take proper breaks, including lunch breaks. Certain pharmacy environments are challenging due to lack of staffing, high volume, clientele, demands from management or all of the above. Pharmacist should be allowed breaks to prevent mental and physical exhaustion. Additionally, pharmacist should be allowed paid vacation and sick days. Pharmacists play a key role in the healthcare system and deserve to provide for their families as any other member in the community. The lack of overtime pay is also an issue when management expects you to stay late to finish high volumes of work or to cover another colleague. Refusal could result in the pharmacy closing and reprimand from management. Overtime pay would help prevent management and corporations from taking advantage of pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

Pharmacists are the only health care providers that are exempt from employment standards. This includes no lunch break, working long hours (12, 13 or even 14 for some people). Physicians, nurses, optometrists, dentists all get lunch break. My family doctor closes his clinic for an hour to have lunch break. The same should be allowed for pharmacies. When a clinic is closed they say "Please go to the emergency department or call 911 if it is urgent".

In the hospital (emergency department), they have proper employment standards where they can still have lunch break as someone is always on duty. Patients wait hours in the hospital despite that there may be an emergency or they are feeling pain. Patients can wait the extra half an hour or hour for the pharmacy too.

Some days I go 12 hours without eating and I am always standing on my feet. This greatly increases the risk of errors and puts patient safety on the line.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

I agree that the pharmacist should have a lunch break.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

I believe that pharmacists should be continued to be exempt from ESA. The college should come up with recommendations to give to owner on such issues and enforce them though college inspections, not law. Pharmacists should work with their employer to make sure their safety and patient safety is not being compromised. Loosing the essential service status will continue to put pressure on a saturated job market and wages.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

So should family Dr offices to lose their essential services status ? Coz they are closed for lunch for one hour ? As job market is saturated then we should even have more protection of employees rights because employer can easily abuse the employees of thier human rights. Now if it is not law just a recommendation, how do you expect the corporate chains to follow it ? As they are largest empoyers of pharmacists ! Most of us are not happy about current working conditions as none corporates were following basic human work condition recommendations so on what basis can we expect them to have to agree to ocp recommendations? In the end we are putting public at risk by this horrible work conditions everywhere in community pharmacy !

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

I definitely agree to paid breaks and lunch. With the everyday stress, PFS targets and lack of manpower in the pharmacy, we deserve a few minutes of uninterrupted breaks. We also have to take care of ourselves.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 4, 2017

With majority of pharmacies now run by corporations trying to squeeze every cent, and increased number of pharmacists competing for limited number of jobs, this has created an environment that offers job to lowest bidder (pharmacist), who may be more comfortable forgoing other benefits or necessities in order to secure the job. Although this may be wage/price set by supply and demand, this is pressuring these same pharmacists to take additional risks by not being able to ask their manager or supervisor for arrangements to take breaks (meal or washroom) whatsoever (fearing repercussions their job security), and at the end of the day, putting patients at risk by not being able to think clearly whether it's due to not having to eat properly or worried about "accidents" because they aren't able to use the restroom in timely fashion. Although pharmacists are healthcare "professionals", I don't think many enjoy benefits or even meet basic necessities in their workplace as other professionals would, other than higher wage compared to rest of Canadian population, especially for new pharmacists entering the workplace. In order to protect the public from employers abusing pharmacists who cannot speak for themselves, there should be set minimum breaks without interruptions offered by employers, which is mandated by law, so that pharmacists can actually work as "professionals" in their field and do what is best for patients with clear thinking in their head.

Pharmacy Assistant  ·  Dec. 5, 2017

I strongly suggest that Pharmacist should get the breaks and other entiltment with personal emergency leave . Pharmcist are humans too . If we cant take care our health and our family then how can we make a healthy society . Personally i have seen my pharmacy manager health is detorating everyday because of long shift . When we get busy even that he cant go to washroom . I have seen his stress level is increasing .i would like to add one more thing that Trucks drivers cannot drive more than 8 hrs or pilot can not fly more than some hrs why this kind of rule is there ?? To protect us , am i right . With that ocp should fix RX no. seen by pharmacist or pay should be fixed for the basic . This will inc. no. of jobd in pharmacy field . Pharmacist will not do unetheicals things to save his job .

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 5, 2017

Pharmacists need the same employment conditions as others. I cannot believe that someone thought it was a good idea to exempt them. This has created inhumane working conditions where focus and job performance is life or death. Corporations will always be supremely greedy and will never do the right thing. Never.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 5, 2017

Some doctors offices get a 1 hr break so I strongly believe Pharmacists should be given breaks as well. Some of my shifts are 14 hr shifts and I do not have time to eat during every shift. This puts the patient's health at risk because I am not able to focus clearly. Pharmacists should not be exempt from having breaks. Minimum wage is also going up and many Pharmacists are in a wage freeze even while the company's profits are increasing. Eventually, minimum wage will be at half of the Pharmacist's wage. I believe the Pharmacist's wage should at the very least increase with inflation. Especially when Pharmacists are getting paid less and less, there should be overtime pay. Pharmacists should have a certain number of personal emergency leaves. Currently, it is frowned upon if I take a day off because I am sick. Providing a set number personal emergency leaves would allow me to take a day off for an emergency or be home sick without any repercussions. I usually go to work sick, which puts my patients at risk by spreading the virus/bacteria and not being able to focus at work.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 5, 2017

I am a pharmacy student. At the time when pharmacists were exempted from the ESA, this was in an era where most pharmacists were self-employed contractors. Thus, pharmacists had to do everything such as dispensing medications, stocking shelves, sweeping floors. Therefore, they needed to work beyond normal standards in order to get everything done. The historical rationale for the exemptions applicable to pharmacists was that pharmacists have a professional duty and obligation to respond to patients’ needs. As a result, interruptions in their work for rest may not be possible at times.

Hours of Work, Eating Periods and Overtime: Removing these exemptions would not impact the access to timely pharmacy care in my community. For example, if a pharmacist takes a thirty minute eating break, there are still pharmacy technicians and assistants who can enter, fill, and in the case of pharmacy technicians who can check the technical aspects of a prescription. Also, most standard wait times are 20 minutes, if a patient were to come at the beginning of a pharmacist’s eating break, they would wait 10 more minutes to receive their medication, and most of the work of entering, filling, and technically checking is complete. Under the current exemptions, pharmacists can also work more than eight hours per day. Limiting the working hours and allowing eating periods would positively impact the pharmacy care patients receive. Pharmacists would not only have the energy to communicate with patients, but pharmacists’ performance and productivity would be increased and there would be less burnout and stress while working. Finally, including the eating rest period would impact the safety of pharmacy care in a positive way. Pharmacists would be better able to check prescriptions faster and with higher accuracy, and catch therapeutic and technical errors at a higher rate if they have a scheduled eating period and eight hours of work (versus twelve hours for example). Although pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals and have to deal with unpredictable events, circumstances or demands arising from client needs, nature of technology, or the nature of the work process, the limited hours and rest period will not impact the quality and safety of patient care, nor the access to timely pharmacy care. Similarly, walk-in clinics also have rest periods and limited hours. Also, patients requiring immediate care should always head to the hospital. All the roles of pharmacists can still be performed if pharmacists were subject to the hours of work, eating period and/or overtime requirements of the ESA. Pharmacists can still counsel on prescription and OTC medications, check prescriptions, take verbal prescriptions, and administer flu shots within the working hours under the requirements of the ESA. There are times when pharmacists contact physicians, and their office is closed for lunch. Similarly, if pharmacists took lunch at the same time as other physicians’ offices, this wouldn’t impact the communication and care provided to patients. In fact, the output of pharmacists would be improved and the work in its present form wouldn’t be fundamentally changed. With the profession’s current exemptions under the ESA, it is difficult to maintain a work-life balance. The job of a community pharmacist is very stressful and the lack of eating periods, no restriction on hours of work, and no overtime pay can impact the mental health of pharmacists and their health and safety.

Minimum Wage: While pharmacists are currently exempt from standard minimum wage enforcement, most pharmacists actually make well above it. Thus, if pharmacists were subject to the minimum wage requirements, it is not likely that the hourly wage would change greatly and would impact access to timely pharmacy care, nor the quality and safety of pharmacy care in my community.

Public Holidays: Pharmacists are not entitled to public holidays or public holiday pay. The nature of the work associated with the practice of pharmacy doesn’t prevent its businesses from closing on public holidays. Most clinics near pharmacies drive business and prescriptions to the nearest pharmacy. However, most physicians and clinics are closed on public holidays. Thus, when pharmacists are exempted under the ESA, the pharmacy doesn’t have a high script count on that day. Thus, being closed on public holiday wouldn’t impact access to timely pharmacy care. If someone gets ill on a public holiday, they would still have to see a physician’s office (which may be closed), and thus go to the hospital. If the pharmacy chose to open and public holiday pay was included, employers wouldn’t have difficulty securing adequate staffing on the public holiday. Removing these exemptions wouldn’t have an impact on access to timely patient care as they may still access medical care from hospitals or other pharmacies that choose to be open on public holidays. Pharmacists may provide better overall performance (less errors) and greater quality of pharmacy care if they had public holidays as a day off to rest.

Vacation Pay and Personal Emergency Leave: If pharmacists were entitled to vacation with pay, this would not have an impact on access to timely pharmacy care as there would likely be another staff pharmacist working. However, having vacation paid may improve the quality and safety of pharmacy care as pharmacists’ vacation would be better enjoyed if it is paid. Pharmacists are not entitled to personal emergency leave where taking currently under the exemption, the leave would constitute an act of professional misconduct or a dereliction of professional duty. This would mean that pharmacists cannot take personal emergency leave for personal illness, injury or medical emergency or death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to immediate family members. Although this may impact access to timely pharmacy care, this can be overcome if the pharmacy owner/associate/manager can get a pharmacist to substitute during this time, without impacting the quality and safety of patient care provided. Thus, so long as there are staff or part-time pharmacists who can work instead of that pharmacist, personal emergency leave can be safely instituted without compromising patient care.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 5, 2017

I believe that pharmacist should be treated the same as everyone else at the work place. I love my job and have always make myself available to any customers. I always get paged when I am in the washroom and I rush back to the pharmacy right away. As far as I understand, there is no other regulated health professionals that do not take breaks. Doctors and nurses take breaks and I don't think patients' care suffer. I think it will reduce the stress level and in the end, improve patient care. Pharmacist can take breaks in multiple shorter increments so that patients do not have to wait longer than 15 minutes, for example. It is up to the employer and pharmacist to work out what is in the best interest of patients and balance it with fair and equitable treatment of the pharmacist. I strongly support that pharmacist should be removed from the exemption.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

Please be reminded that PHARMACISTS ARE PROFESSIONALS, who could take a reasonable break if they need to without the need to remove the ESA exemptions, and without the pharmacy needing to close for lunch but rather patients wait a few more minutes for pharmaceutical care. Compare this with the practice medicine, where it is not uncommon for patients to wait for hours for service.

The primary issue here is that non-pharmacist business people are largely running the practice of community pharmacy without being held accountable in any manner. Consequently many pharmacists suffer psychologically and physically with this unjust practice model as they are ultimately accountable to the public and sometimes even punished publically because of the adverse circumstances their corporations impose on their pharmacists.

As a REGULATED HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL a pharmacist has a FIDUCIARY DUTY to ensure he or she is able to serve and protect the public. We as pharmacists and our College cannot continue to allow ruthless corporations to try to force pharmacists to work in adverse conditions. There is significant risk for PUBLIC DANGER when we allow unethical business people whose sole interest is profit, and who have no formal pharmacy or healthcare training whatsoever, to own and operate pharmacies. This public feedback is not about needing permission by the Ministry to eat lunch, but rather about finally being able and protected to ACT AS PROFESSIONALS IN CONTROL OF OUR PROFESSION.

Clearly many pharmacists struggle to take a reasonable lunch break not because they are not allowed to per se, but because of the inadequate staffing situation created by their employer, which leads to an UNSAFE practice environment. For the sake of public protection and to uphold the dignity and honour of our profession, the OCP must swiftly intervene to stop this situation by holding any operator of a pharmacy fully accountable. Pharmacists have a fiduciary duty to address an unsafe practice environment and report any PROPRIETARY MISCONDUCT (as well as professional misconduct) to the authorities.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

Are YOU able to take a reasonable break? Companies schedule assistance so that you CANNOT take a break. They expect you to be working at all times. We don't even have stools to sit on for 8 hours. So no, unless there is a change to the law, we will not all be able to take these breaks.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

We don't have to close pharmacies for pharmacists to have their breaks, but rather demand from employers to have adequate pharmacist overlap so that these standards could be met.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

The way many community pharmacists are practicing now is definitely risking the safety of the public. For 8 or more hours straight we are on constant alert and trying to focus and not make any errors. This is a hard thing to do for anyone, and if it is while starving and with a full bladder it is even harder. Not being adequately hydrated, or energized is negatively affecting our ability to help the public. Just a short time to refuel with food, empty bladders, and take a mental break will drastically improve our ability to think, solve problems, and be efficient. It is super hypocritical when we are the most accessible health care providers and we are not even advocating for our own health. In fact, pharmacists can be extremely unhealthy by snacking or not eating regularly which can lead to health problems like GERD, or triggering migraines. The rush of patients and inability to focus can cause anxiety.

We need to change the rules and provide regular breaks for pharmacists. If we are overwhelmed with work and can't get a break, we often need to rush. Quality of care would definitely improve if we were refreshed from a break. Even half an hour is amazing. In terms of access to timely pharmacy care, I don't see any prescriptions that would need to be dispensed immediately that could not wait half an hour. We have transformed the practice of community pharmacy into what is like working in fast food. Your health should not be rushed, and neither should we be rushed when giving the correct medication can mean life or death. People in winter are willing to wait an hour in the lineup to get their car washed. Half an hour is nothing in the grand scheme of things, so no, closing the pharmacy for half an hour will not impact access to the pharmacy.

As a person who has been working in pharmacy for 15 years, conditions have not improved but have worsened. It is very hard to physically do this day to day. Please give us the basic human right to be able to pee, eat, and have a mental break. Even half an hour would be wonderful!

In addition, something needs to be done with "personal days" or "sick days". It is nearly impossible to take sick days without feeling bad about it, like you are causing so much distress to the store for not being available last minute. Often myself or coworkers need to continue to work even while sick, which is detrimental to the public. We should be able to be able to use our professional judgement in using a guaranteed number of sick days or personal days without any penalty.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

I firmly believe that ESA should implement mandatory lunch breaks for pharmacist whether it is a 8, 9 or 12 hour shift at a minimum. We are not robots. We are people and require a break to eat and refresh so we may provide the optimum patient care that our clients expect. Every year we are asked to expand our scope and do more tasks in the same time period with no extra support staff to help and no extra compensation for that extra workload. I do not believe this has to involve closure of the store, but rather a few minutes longer wait time for the public . (No one has a problem waiting 10-15 minutes in line at Tim Hortons.) I also believe that we should be compensated for an emergency leave. As our families get older this is becoming more a reality, and it is already stressful enough dealing with our loved ones in a time of crisis, let alone having to figure out coverage, etc for work.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

I have been a pharmacist for only 5 years but I've worked as a relief pharmacist at several community pharmacies. My work hours usually vary from 8 hours to 12 hours per day. Most times there is only one pharmacist working per shift hence there is no over lap and little or no opportunities to take a break to eat, use the wash room.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

We should be under the Employment Standards act.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 6, 2017

We must be under the act 100%..simply we are human beings. health related services. .all other health care providers are under the act and not exempted ..but the big problem is pharmacists are not one hand. .as long as there are big commercial competition between big companies and other independent stores ,no rights are guaranteed for the pharmacists...

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

I am very fortunate to work at a Shoppers Drug Mart that gives pharmacists an hour lunch and two 15min breaks for a nine hour shift WITH pharmacist overlap (the nine hours includes the one hour lunch). However, Head Office might be changing all that to increase script count and increase profits and I am not going to stand for that.

Breaks for everyone in pharmacy is important to recharge, eat and go to the bathroom. I know for myself that when I'm hungry I don't focus as well and it's a patient safety concern. With outpatient pharmacies, patients are not emergencies. They are stable, with conditions that are not severe or life-threatening. They should understand that the pharmacist can't check their prescription RIGHT NOW because they needed to go to the bathroom. And that they are stable patients who can afford to wait 15 - 20min for their blood pressure pills or antibiotics. I know your child with AOM would like to go home now, but have some compassion for the professional on their feet all day.

Pharmacists in outpatient settings need to have breaks (especially if working 12h shifts). The fact that we have this "exemption" is just a way for corporations to exploit their workers for the sake of more production (rather than for accuracy). I am very lucky that my previous associate knew the value in breaks for everyone. It shouldn't be about wait times. It should be about having a healthy, functioning staff to provide the best care.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

I work for 12 hours everyday and we don't get any breaks for lunch or wash room, and if any mistake happen if we are tired then its all on us, i would say the ideal time for the pharmacist should work is 8-10 hours and he should be entitled for at least lunch break and if he working more than he should be eligible for overtime pay as per the industry standard,

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

The current work conditions need to change. It's unhealthy. Poor support staff makes for chaotic work environments. Just adding breaks is not enough. We need good support. If every store stopped waiving the $2 that would be enough to pay for another assistant per shift. Paying assistances more than minimum wage would also decrease staff turn over. So ensuring patient safety and enabling pharmacists to practice expanded services goes beyond EAS standards. EAS standards are still a good starting point

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

To provide excellent patient care, the pharmacists MUST be protected by this act! Fatigue, hunger, extreme exhaustion, depression due to such unhealthy working conditions, all contribute to declining function of a human being, let alone a professional who should be looking after the well being of patients. If the college wants to act in the best interest of the patient, they should consequently look after the well being of the professionals under whose care the patient care depends on.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

We should definitively be under the act. We deserve breaks and overtime pay.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 7, 2017

I work 12 hours shifts at my pharmacy and we do not have an opportunity to get a proper break to either go to the bathroom or eat our lunch. It would be nice to be able sit down and take a mandatory 30min break to eat my lunch properly without having to be interrupted by customers and rudely eating in front of them while I am working. It's written in the policy that we are entitled to breaks and lunches but it is never enforced which means I never get to take them. The pharmacy should be able to close down for 30min or signs can be posted to the patients informing them that the pharmacist will be back after lunch. I definitely think that lunch breaks need to be mandated for any pharmacist working an 8 or 12 hour shift. Factory workers get breaks and lunches and they don't have patients health and safety at risk. Pharmacists have a responsibility to do no harm to their patients and put their patients safety first, but how can we do that without being able to take breaks and refuel our brain? .Another issue that needs to be addressed is entitlement to our sick days. I was pregnant with twins and came down with a really bad cold one day. I tried to call in sick and no one was able to cover for me. My manager couldn't come in and my supervisor couldn't find anyone to work for me. So I had to come into work with a fever and work a 12 hour shift. Not only did I put mine and my babies health at risk but I also put the public at risk of infection. We are pharmacists, a health care professional and we don't practice what we preach. We tell teachers and students not to go school if they are sick or have a fever to reduce the spread of infection and the same goes for any other work places. Why write any sick days in your policies if you can't even take them? Pharmacists are no different than any other human being. We get sick too and we should be entitled to use our sick days if we need to.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 8, 2017

My concerns are 1. We work very long shifts and donot get any break to eat. 2. No bio breaks but have to find time to just run to washroom. 3. No place to sit most of us are now suffering from varicose veins or other problems because of standing for too long hours. 4. No raise which is not fair we are doing so my in this field but still stuck at such a lower rate compared to other professions.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 9, 2017

I work 12 hour shifts by myself, I put out totes of stock (yes as a pharmacist I do). I answer the phones I do cash, I deal with patients requests and questions some about healthcare and some not. Of course fill and check prescriptions, as well as get in touch with doctors, give flu shots and other vaccines etc, barely have 5 minutes to eat or go to the bathroom without someone waiting for me when I return. I believe our working conditions need to improve to be more productive and well respected in our profession. By the 8th hour I am physically and mentally exhausted but forced to push through it because I have no other choice. I would welcome a 30 minute break in a 12 hour day just to re charge and step away for a little to be more productive.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 9, 2017

It is absolutely WRONG to work long hours. It is WRONG to leave a pharmacist working alone, without any help. And it is wrong that OCP doesn't get involved in standardization of a fair Rx Count/ Labour Hour- a profit driven metrics imposed by corporations.

Big corporations who force their pharmacists to do 12, 14, 16 hours shifts have no respect for patients and pharmacists health and well being.

A pharmacist who is dehydrated, or hasn't eaten or even urinated for long periods of time can make poor judgements and put her/his patients health at risk.

It is time for OCP to stand up and do something about this abuse/ slavery. It is not fair to put in place higher and higher standards of practice and when it comes to labour laws and working conditions say it is not your business to get involved. To suggest pharmacists to change their work place if they are not satisfied with their employer is NOT in line with: "Putting Patients First".

I, personally, have never ever compromised my patients health and safety. I absorbed all the pressure and as a result I lost my mental health. I'm seeing a psychiatrist right now and slowly recovering from the trauma.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 9, 2017

Pharmacist should be included in the Employment Standards Act.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 10, 2017

As a retail pharmacist in a very busy pharmacy with only one pharmacist on duty at a time, I do not get breaks. Even when I was pregnant with my kids, there were 8-14 hour shifts when there was no time to eat or use the bathroom - barely time for a sip of water. Not only is this unhealthy for me, but it is unsafe for my patients. There is no way to maintain a clear and level head in a busy pharmacy for 14 hours straight with no food or breaks. I feel like I have no choice though; my only other option would be to quit my job, and there is no shortage of other pharmacists in Toronto who would be willing to take my place. I don't think there is any reason that retail pharmacists shouldn't be entitled to Overtime pay; Minimum wage; Public Holidays; Vacation with Pay; and Personal Emergency Leave. Most conscientious workplaces already offer these things without affecting patient access to care. The controversial exemption in my opinion is the "hours of work and eating periods", because pharmacies with only one pharmacist on duty would have to close to allow the pharmacist time for a break. I do think, however, that it is important for humans to be able to take a break - especially if their work requires the use of their brain to make decisions that affect the health and safety of others. We are not robots! Which is worse: having an exhausted, hungry, distracted pharmacist fill your prescription right away, or having to wait longer for your prescription so that it can be checked by a pharmacist who was able to eat and go to the bathroom? Also, without an eating break, pharmacists are forced to eat in the dispensary. In every pharmacy I've worked at, pharmacists regularly eat at their workbench; often taking bites in between checking prescriptions. It is not sanitary or safe for food containers and utensils to be sitting on the same workspace that is used to fill prescriptions. I hope that there is a solution that would allow pharmacists a break without forcing the entire pharmacy to close. Even a 15-minute break to use the washroom and eat would make a difference. Perhaps a mandatory rest break where the pharmacist must leave the dispensary and refrain from work activities, but remain on the general premises (in case of emergency)? I feel that the break must be mandatory, or else some unscrupulous businesses may favour the employment of pharmacists who are willing to forgo the break.
In my experience, members of the general public usually assume that pharmacists are entitled to the same employment standards as everyone else - and are shocked when they learn that the person entrusted with ensuring the safety of their medications may not have had any break for 12 hours or more. For the safety of our patients, I believe it is important to find a solution to ensuring pharmacists take breaks.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 11, 2017

I feel that the Employment Standards Act should apply to Pharmacists. Decades ago, when most community Pharmacists, owned their own Pharmacies, having an exemption made sense. Pharmacies were open 9 hours per day, a few hours on Saturday and closed on Sundays. The Owner Pharmacist would work all of the shifts. In today’s world, most community Pharmacists are employees and corporations (Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, Walmart) have taken over. The “owners” are no longer Pharmacists, and pharmacies are open much longer and 7 days per week. Also currently, there is an excess supply of Pharmacists. This has led to employers taking advantage of Pharmacists as employees (no overtime paid for excess hours, not being paid out training for CPR certifications which are needed for flu shots administered in the store, etc.). Access. The access issue is blown way out of proportion. Pharmacists are and will always be the most accessible health care professionals. If pharmacies have to close for an hour lunch break, this will not compromise patient care considering the wait times at a lot of the busy pharmacies (Shoppers, Walmart, Costco) are already 30-45 mins and in some cases, over an hour. This is the current standard. Also, community pharmacies are not hospitals. People coming to get Rxs filled are not coming in for life threatening stat medications (I am not aware of any medications that a MD would prescribe that need to be started ASAP, where waiting for half an hour to an hour would be critical and detrimental for the patient). For over 95% pharmacies, there are multiple pharmacies within a short driving distance and therefore any access claims are not valid. 99% of Pharmacists should not be denied the ESA for the sake of remote small town pharmacies (maybe an exemption could be made for remote pharmacies that do not have any other pharmacies within a radius of ___km). Remote dispensing pharmacies are currently being underutilized and this could be a potential solution in remote areas/hospitals/urgent care centers. In bigger towns, pharmacies could use the lock and leave systems to close down pharmacies for an hour.

If physicians in medical clinics are allowed to take a lunch break, we should also be allowed. The much needed break would allow Pharmacists to sit down and eat. This would enhance patient care as Pharmacists would be more focused after a break and therefore should minimize the risk of any errors being made. Also, we advocate for patient health but our own health gets neglected. We should not be expected to work 8-14 hours a day continuously without any breaks or time to eat. This is a very dangerous situation that needs to be stopped. In summary, patient access would not be greatly affected but the quality of patient care would be improved by allowing the ESA to apply to Pharmacists.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 11, 2017

I think no pharmacist should work more than 10 hours for a shift. I believe any pharmacist should be entitled overtime pay if working overtime. Sick days should have standard minimums as pharmacist are human too and being forced to work sick would create a huge risk to patients.

Breaks would be ideal but hard to enforce and perhaps detrimental to patient care in smaller communities. (Sometimes patients or caregivers don't have the luxury of time when commuting far distances and would make the wrong decisions of putting off pick up of meds that should start immediately).

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 11, 2017

Pharmacist break exemption should be removed for public safety. Many employers already pay vacation and holiday pay so removing this exemption will just affect few employers who should be doing same. Overtime should be paid as per any other Ontario worker- it will be frowned upon and reduced as much as possible but that’s ok- if you must work those hours you will be paid properly. Emergency leave exemption should be removed for public safety- Pharmacist likely affected to same degree as being impaired. Working like that not safe for customers. Public campaign to “be prepared “ so not running on last dose to reduce patient interruption of therapy, mandatory sign in emergency bring bottle to another pharmacy for emergency transfer/dispense. Mandatory ratios for pharmacist to support staff would be helpful to improve patient safety and quality of services. Mandating minimum training to work in a dispensary would positively affect patient safety- support staff truly supportive in that case.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 12, 2017

I believe pharmacists should continue to be exempt of ESA . If exemptions are lifted , this will cause much inconvenience to pharmacist availability to public. If a patient is out of the hospital, in pain and has a prescription for a pain killer or antibiotic, it will be very inconvenient to tell the patient to come back in 1/2 hour plus the backlog of prescriptions dropped off while pharmacist was on break. That will create more workload in less time and can still lead to mistakes. In addition, it is very convenient for most pharmacists to work long shifts and take days off , rather than going to work daily for 6-7 hours , which will be the case when ESA is lifted

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 12, 2017

So hospital will discharge a patient with severe pain and he or she can be in extreme pain if they ended up waiting half hour extra ? Or if patient starts antibiotic half hour to one hour late it can be dangerous ? how long that same patient would have waited in emergency room to see a dr ? So for patient convinience pharmacist has to work in inhumane conditions and putting patient safety and his or her own safety at risk ? Now increased workload after opening from break is a valid question so for that pharmacy closed means totally closed. No phone calls no drop off no pick up. Now pharmacists should be happy to make exception sometimes when there are extreme emergenices !

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

Pharmacists should be able to go for lunch. Some of my colleagues comment that we should be regulated under same laws as physicians. However, physicians are self employed and close their practice for lunch. How many doctor offices has anyone seen being open for 12 hours and a doctor not taking any breaks? Pharmacists on the other hand, even though both self regulated, mostly work under large corporations which dictate the rules.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

I guess it is not a very valid point. Almost all patients take the daily dose of the pain medication or the antibiotic before discharge, they are not left to face dire situations! In addition, 1/2 hour wait time is not a problem, most prescriptions take that long to be verified, filled and double-checked by the pharmacist! Speed does not replace safety, and many times patients stress pharmacists to get their meds quickly but she/he as a healthcare provider must take the time to double-check instead of complying to patients' pressure, as hasty dispensing might lead to errors.

Applicant  ·  Dec. 13, 2017

I believe that pharmacist is also a human being to need a break. In the case of emergency, we could and have to work more longer hours without break, but in my view, many pharmacists are also very tired, hungry, and need little break to rest regularly. If they cannot have break, they cannot function well, and eventually this will affect the care for the patients, too.

Public  ·  Dec. 13, 2017

I am appalled that such working conditions exist today. People sacrificed a lot of money in 1950's dealing with employers forcing people to work in these conditions. I assume the drug stores have avoided unions because of their small size I am not a fan of unions but it is because of such treatment of workers that unions came to exist. My other issue is it is proven that a persons efficiently starts to go down after 5 hours and continues to decline hourly so we are inviting trouble at 12 hours. My hat is off to the quality of the work done by the pharmacist but is it a time bomb waiting to happen. Forced hours of work, no lunch break, no washroom breaks sounds like 1817 not 2017.

Public  ·  Dec. 13, 2017

I was not aware of the exemption for pharmacists. Honestly, now I understand why some of them don't even council or don't happily address my questions or concerns. If there was an established lunch time, it would not be a concern. I'm certain the public would wait, as long as breaks are consistent and hours are posted, there is no problem. Overall, patient care would actually increase. I've been to some doctors that make you wait over two hours, waiting 30 minutes for a prescription isn't a major concern. Also, from experience I can say that an hour wait is standard at a pharmacy.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

Personally, I know that my find functions way less after 8 hours of straight work, leaving a greater opportunity for errors if one were to be made. Furthermore, a pharmacy does not have to close in order to provide a pharmacist with a break. A pharmacy assistant can take in the prescription, prepare it, and leave it for the pharmacist to sign. Pharmacies can deliver or the patient can come back. Some pharmacies currently even tell patients that their waiting period may be an hour or so. For pharmacists that work alone, we can even have a drop-off box like a mail box where the patient can insert the prescription inside a slot that drops the prescription off inside the pharmacy while the pharmacist is on a break. Our work is extremely stressful, with multiple things going on at the same time (telephone calls, prescription problems, flu shots, etc, etc.). It's hard to believe that after so many years of education and hard work that we were not even entitled to minimum wage. We should not be exempt from the public holidays or vacation entitlements, or personal emergency leaves. None of these things significantly affect patient care. There are relief pharmacists available.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

This is the first time OCP ask us our working condition. I really appreciate this opportunity for the Ministry of labour. Unfortunately many pharmacists did not know this opportunity. There are numbers of concerns regarding to pharmacist working conditions however only one thing we need is to have a body who can listen to us and protect us. Therefore it is important that we received the protection of the employment standards Act. Those concerns follow Break 30min paid break should be minimum for 12 hours shift. It really depends on how many assistants we have as well. Pharmacists are too hungry or tired, mistake tend to happen more. Obviously, this is bad for the public. Many pharmacies do not have area pharmacists can eat. Eating at dispensary area is not sanitary and dose not look professional. Staying extra if pharmacists need to stay to work, company should pay hours. It is not expected 1.5 times pay just pay the hours we worked. Many companies do not pay those hours so we need to leave the job. Patients suffer when pharmacists who are familiar with them have to leave a job, but we can work indefinitely under these conditions. Many companies ask pharmacists open the store ready on time for opening hour. It take 10 to 15 minutes to open by one pharmacist. However we do not get paid that time for each shift. Wage Some of us have received no wage increase for more than decade. We pay high tuition, invest time and effort to get a licence, but wage is less than $30 in GTA for relief pharmacists. Long service pharmacists are being let go in order to switch new licensed one. The value of experience, which is important for patients, is lost. Setting OCP considers confidentiality is important but never restricts the setting. Everyone can hear the conversation. No time for going to counselling room. Even Bank has better setting. Customer line up with distance and wait for next service. Confidentiality is important for public. OCP thinks we are the most accessible healthcare professionals but public is not thinking we are professional. We are often asked where the non pharmacy items are since company cut labour on the floor. Our job, we cannot make any mistakes to check Rx. But when we are checking Rx, patients are waiting to drop off Rx, waiting to pick up Rx and pay or just paying items, asking flu shot, telephone are ringing, another patients are asking question over the wall at once without any assistants. It is almost impossible to concentrate to check Rx. Because we have open concept. Nobody wants to wait if there is access. Also many pharmacies have no Chair. Often pharmacists need to stand up for 12 to 16 hours without chairs, with using brain. We are exhausted with painful legs. More chances to make mistake. We need legal protection for workplace health and safety.

Sick OCP need to change the regulation in order to allow a sick pharmacist to leave. If the pharmacist is sick, we should not work in order to protect public. If necessary, company need to close the pharmacy. Pharmacists should not wait untill next pharmacist is coming. Sometimes nobody comes. Same as emergency leave. We know we cannot leave whatever happens but it is very stressful and miserable. Extra scope Before launching this new extra jobs for pharmacists, OCP should have regulated pharmacy must have extra assistant or pharmacist can not work alone. Dangerous to public if pharmacists have too many tasks at once. Also courses are required. Some companies do not pay the fee. Most of company do not pay the time we need to attend it. Besides most of pharmacists do not get any extra payments for that new role. No Target Many companies have target for professional service. If neighbor pharmacy ask to borrow flu shot, many pharmacies do not give them because of target numbers. Is that benefit for public? Pharmacy business It is used to be only pharmacists could own a pharmacy. The ratio should be considered to change back. We are pharmacists, know the patient’s need because we see and talk to them everyday. We should be the one who can decide the pharmacy business in order to give the best benefit for public. Shareholders are not pharmacists. Of course, they think about revenue but not quality or safety for public. Bill 102 In 2006 Bill 102 came on. After everything about pharmacy business was affected badly. ODB could save money then all the squeeze came to pharmacists. We are afraid this Bill 148 will make our situation worse. For example, our wage is more than $15, our vacation weeks are more than 3 weeks. After this Bill 148 will be on, we hope we will not have worse situation.

The end, we really need to have organization who can protect us. I believe if we are exempted, we cannot have it. So it is strongly agreed we need the protection under the employment standards act.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

First of all, I would like to thank the ministry of labour who brought up this issue. It is nice to see that someone is caring about our work condition.

I agree to remove exmption for break. I think the patient care will not be affected . It is a good step in order to ensure pharmacist's healthy mind and body and as a result patient will benefit from better care. However, it should be implemented in a way that the pharmacy closes for unitrputted break. Patients will get used to it the same way they get used to doctor's offices close for 1 or 2 hours for lunch break. It should be ensured that this exemption removal will have no adverse effect on our employment.

I don't believe in limiting daily and weekly hours as long as there is a reasonable break time. 

I agree to have emergency leave rights.

I agree to have sick leave and we should not wait long hours to get another pharmacist take over our shift.

The employer needs to pay overtime if the pharmacist needs to stay overtime for a late customer and for the time preparing the pharmacy to open on time. The employer needs to pay for the time they ask the pharmacit's to go for clinic days or some courses like CPR and injection courses on their day off.  We don't get paid at all for the we spend for these extra hours.

Expanded scope of practice not only did not increase our income but also increased our workload. I appreciate OCP working on these extra scope but I also appreciate if OCP evaluates how much the added scopes have affected our other responsibilties as with less assitants, it is very challenging to deliver all the services with the quality we expect. It used to be that the owner of the pharmacy was supposed to be a pharmacist. Non-pharmacists having shares in pharmacies and for them pharmacy is only business but for us is profession and business. With so many graduates being added to the job market, I think it will be a good idea to give more share to the pharmacists to own a pharmacy. I think it will be beneficial to the public as well.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

Pharmacists should have a normal lunch! Period! It’s unhumane and a shame. We already work in fast pace, stressful environment. There are more and more expectations from us to provide different services. How can anyone expect any human being to go 8,10,12 hours without proper break to eat and just clear your mind while expected to keep sharp thinking and not make any mistakes?!? It’s only a matter of time until this will cost the loss of some innocent life and then everyone will sufently wake up and new regulations will finally come to light. As far as pharmacy being closed for lunch and patients not having direct access to pharmacy for 30 minuets - I say; So What?!? In Europe every bank, pharmacy, small shop etc. are closed for 1 hour lunch. And?... everyone is perfectly happy. If a patient is discharged from a hospital, then they would have had the medications at the hospital and will probably not need another dose for hours, so what a lousy 30 minutes will change? Some of the arguments against closing for lunch, where small pharmacies are located in secluded locations with only one pharmacy in town are irrelevant. If a patient was discharged in the middle of the night no one would come in to open the pharmacy to fill their prescription, they would have to make arrangements and come in the morning. so why a lousy 30 minutes in the middle of the day should be treated any differently? I miscarried my first pregnancy thanks to these conditions at work, would work days without any tech help, was so busy that I never had a chance to eat. What kind of patient centred, pharmaceutical care can a pharmacist working under such conditions provide? How easy would it be to not notice a small detail that could cost someone their life? It’s a matter of patient safety.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

I believe that lifting the exemptions and exclusions on the ESA for pharmacists will have a negative impact on both pharmacists and patients. As a workaround many pharmacy owners will try to hire multiple pharmacists that do shorter shifts instead of a full-time that does 8 hours. Also, it’s unlikely that you would be paid in that half hour break, which ultimately reduces the number of paid hours, this can be tough on pharmacists already struggling to get hours. The impact on patients would be negative as well, since the wait times can be expected to increase quite a bit. As a pharmacist, I try to manage my work so that during the shift I can have time to eat, rest a bit, or use the washroom as needed.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

The current employment conditions for community pharmacists is far below the standards of their colleagues who work in an office, hospital, administration, government and other professional settings. It will be refreshing to see positive changes in employment standards for community pharmacists so that they can thrive as health care professionals (e.g. proper breaks, length of work shift, overtime, benefits, retirement savings, time off, management support, maternity leave). These are basic perks for other professionals and it's unfortunate that community pharmacy is still struggling in the area of employment standards, fairness and equity.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 14, 2017

I work long hours in a busy pharmacy ( 9.5 hours 200 rxs ) meal beaks should be mandated as i am a safer pharmacist when i get a lunch, which does not always happen. Patients are already used to waiting to see a prescriber. Those prescribers i am sure get meal breaks. Why would anyone think it is safer for the public if we pharmacists don't get one ? When i worked for a corporate pharmacy i felt taken advantage of by my employers because i never could go for lunch. It is time to change the ESA. We should get emergency leave and overtime pay like everyone else.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

As a community pharmacist, I agree with removing the exemptions. It is for patients' safety. Pharmacists' working conditions vary from privately owned stores to corporations and between different corporations as well. It would be fair to set a uniform standard for all healthcare professionals, whether assistants, doctors, registered technicians or pharmacists. Exemptions are always there to help in emergency situations, they do not have to be in the form of a law!

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

Pharmacists should not be exempt from the ESA. The exemption has led to unhealthy and unsafe work conditions. I have seen many fellow pharmacists' health deteriorate as we are forced to work longer and longer hours. This naturally leads to lower standard of care and more medication errors. Eliminating the ESA exemption would be a big step in the right direction.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

Because pharmacists are professionals with the fiduciary duty to the public of constantly ensuring effective and safe drug therapy as well as timely access to urgent pharmacotherapy, removing the exemptions would be absolutely inappropriate. Moreover pharmacy is such a diverse profession with a wide variety of employment statuses: depending on the company and the pharmacist's role, a pharmacist can be paid hourly with or without a paid meal break, or paid an annual salary.

The major issue here is that most pharmacy corporations are primarily owned and operated by business people who are not healthcare professionals and whose chief interests are making a profit. It is time for the OCP to abolish the pre-1954 charter: no investor should be allowed any longer to own or operate a pharmacy under this obsolete charter no matter how much they can pay for it. The pre-1954 charter unequivocally does not benefit the public and has only done harm to the profession and in turn the public.

Note that the many business owners and operators of pharmacies have not been required to make the Declaration of Commitment. This is nonsensical as it is in the public's best interest for pharmacies to be operated by pharmacists as they are regulated healthcare professionals who must be "committed, first and foremost, to the direct benefit of their patients and only secondarily to making a profit", as outlined in our Code of Ethics.

When our government initiated the major funding cuts to pharmacy in 2008, most corporate employees simply passed the cuts onto their pharmacists by drastically reducing wages and staffing levels. Because the cuts have been continuous up till now, including the present automatic 2.8% deduction from all pharmacies' remittance notices from ODB in order for the government to meet its arbitrary financial targets, corporate owners have penalized their pharmacies by ruthlessly cutting pharmacists wages and imposing scanty staffing levels. This situation is a clear danger to the public. Ensuring there is a fair minimum wage or salary and minimum staffing levels based on prescription volume is essential to the public interest.

It is time for all pharmacists and the OCP to collaboratively TAKE ACTION in upholding the dignity and honour of our profession by responsibly taking control of our pharmacy practices.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

i don't think pharmacists should be exempt from some of these rules. It's absurd to have them exempt from holiday pay, sick days and vacation pay (I'm not sure if any company actually doesn't pay these). As for hours of work I don't think there should be a max (I like 10-14 shifts) but I do think there should be some sort of paid break available (at least 15-30 mins, but they need to be accessible for emergencies). Corporations are starting to take advantage of pharmacists. I think this relationship needs to be better regulated because this will only get worse and is terrible for our patients. For overtime they should receive time and a half and there should be a minimum wage of at least $40/hour. There is almost no reason why retail pharmacists should be exempt from most of these things. The pharmacy does not need to be shut down to allow a pharmacist to have a small break and all the corporations aren't going out of business if these rules change.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

Lifting the ESA is a VERY BAD idea...Minimum 8 hour shifts and mandatory breaks will lead to increased pharmacist hour requirements, and to off set this increase, pharmacists wages will ultimately take a huge hit. Covering vacations for businesses, especially small rural pharmacies becomes a nightmare, as 2 pharmacists per day are needed for coverage.

Bottom line is the pharmacist on duty makes decisions on how to conduct their day, does not matter if you are busy or not. You have the option to take a lunch and washroom break, if you decide not to, that's your decision. Taking 15-20 minutes out of the work day will not change anything, incorporate this in your day. However, lifting the ESA will create way larger issues than your lunch break!!!

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

Removing the current exemptions would require the pharmacist to take a break regardless if they need one after 5 consecutive hours of work. That means although there may be a few people waiting for prescriptions, flu shots, and patient consultations, the pharmacist will have to leave for a 30 minute break. This will definitely affect all patients’ care. Let’s say everyone decides to wait for the pharmacist to return. But when the pharmacist returns, they have to deal with not only those tasks from before the break, but there will be 30 minutes worth of work that they have to catch up on. Whenever there is too much work, there is a higher chance of dispensing errors. Pharmacists pride themselves in being the most accessible health care provider. So if we remove this exemption and take these mandated breaks, we are also telling the public we are no longer as accessible and that they may have to wait 30 minutes or more to ask us a question. If some pharmacists are very adamant on receiving breaks, then instead of forcing all pharmacists to take breaks, speak with your employer. Ask for a break that is appropriate based on your pharmacy’s workflow. Bring a granola bar or meal replacement to work and take bites or sips from it while you work, just like you would with water. There is no need to remove these exemptions when arrangements can be made by yourselves at work or with your employers.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

I work as a retail pharmacist with 12+ hour shifts. I think as pharmacists, our goal is to provide quality healthcare to our patients and ensure they are receiving the right therapy. However, the current unreasonable working conditions of long hours, no breaks (no time to eat or use the bathroom), lack of staff support (minimal technician assistance), increase in work load and demands (flu shots plus other immunizations, medschecks, pharmaceutical opinions, etc) and of course pressure from head office, I find it extremely difficult to function as a pharmacist, who is highly responsible and liable, without getting excessively stressed physically and mentally. As pharmacists, we often advise patients about following a healthy lifestyle while us pharmacists are clearly not following that. Unfortunately, pharmacists are now being used as means towards increasing business revenue, rather than focusing on patient care. There are times in my practice that I do not have time to discuss a patient's health concern or to help a patient with a recommendation, simply because I work mostly by myself in a very busy pharmacy with patients who become easily frustrated if they have to wait a bit longer. This is unfortunate as we are supposed to be the most accessible healthcare providers and lack the support that we need in order to fulfill this. As a professional who always tries to put patients first, I feel like we do not get the support and respect that we need. Changes need to be made in the pharmacy profession before this situation gets worse. There also needs to be an increase in awareness in the public, as most people are unaware of our working conditions. I really hope the OCP and the government look into this.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

I agree with the special advisors that Ontario should consider eliminating the exemptions to the ESA for pharmacists. The historical rationale is no longer relevant to practice environment today. The existing exemptions were implemented when a far greater proportion of community pharmacies were run by self-employed pharmacists. Today, there is a growing proportion of community pharmacies run by chains and corporate banners. The historical belief was that pharmacies should not interrupt care to their patients, but the reality is most cases and prescriptions in community pharmacy are not urgent. It's really more of a convenience rather than a necessity. Thus, it does not really affect access for patients. In my community pharmacy practice we do give the pharmacist regular breaks throughout the day. Our assistants know triage the situation to either tell the customer to wait or have the pharmacist interrupt their break.

Many community pharmacies are already paying for public holidays, vacation with pay as well as sick and personal leave days. For this, it would not affect employers too much as they already provide this benefit with the exception of those that do not do so. Regarding hours of work, some commentators from community pharmacy mentioned that they work 12 hour days but for fewer days each work. This is no different than in other industries where the employer allows for a compressed work week as long as there is an understanding with the employer and employee. Hospital and industry almost always follows the ESA for non-exempt professions and jobs titles.

As many community pharmacists already have some of ESA exemptions like paid vacations and holidays, the two that are most relevant are hours of work and overtime. There isn't a pharmacist shortage anymore in Ontario so having exceptions on hours of work/eating periods or paying overtime should one work more than 40 hours should not be exempted from the ESA from pharmacists anymore. As I previously mentioned, having break periods would not cause undue hardship on employers or the customers due to lack of urgency in most situations. In some places, community pharmacies even close half an hour for lunch. The job of a pharmacist requires a large amount of attention and a mental a physical break is important for those who are providing a level of care to the public. If there are going to be changes to this, certain parts of work would not be significant altered if at all. However overtime should not be exempted for community pharmacists as hospital pharmacists do get overtime or time in lieu off. Almost all pharmacist are hourly wage employees. The schedule is usually assigned by a manager.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

I'm used to working long shifts with few breaks, As long as I can get to the bathroom and eat a sandwich or a muffin, I'm ok with that.

When working in communtity pharmacies I have never been paid overtime pay for working more than 44 hours a week. That does not bother me as I like to work extra hours.

I currently am not paid for statuatory holidays. This is the first time that I have not received statuatory holiday pay. I think statuatory holiday pay should be mandatory for pharmacists. It isn't much of a day off when you lose pay because you aren't paid stat pay for the extra time off.

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

I will keep this short, but make no mistake that this is a crucial topic that I am very much in favour of putting pharmacists back on the employment standards act. As many people have already alluded to, the majority of pharmacists working in retail setting work for a larger organization. Organizations only look at bottom line and in the last 5-7 years, have made the working conditions of pharmacists so bad that many can attest to working without a lunch break - munching on food while constantly being bombarded with questions and scripts to sign. When pharmacists work without adequate breaks, ISMP can attest to this being a major risk factor for medication incidents. Pharmacists try their best to be careful but we are not robots. We cannot be our best when we are light headed from hunger most of the time. Many pharmacists I know are on a PPI. It is not humane to keep pharmacists off the employment standards act where we are spending PROLONGED periods (12h or 14 hr shifts without a lunch break at a reasonable time - a time that is usually busy but stomach is complaining, so one must work through the light headedness and stomach aches because patients don't wait more than 20 minutes before complaining to head office and there is no sign that says the pharmacy is closed for break). There is NO NEED for pharmacists to be off of the employment standards act. We are not EMS. Doctor offices, optometrists, dentists, ALL have lunch breaks where they don't schedule work in that time. If pharmacies are closed for lunch, people will be trained to not come during that time. Now, companies with only dollar signs in their eyes will object to that or even pressure pharmacists to skip breaks by piling on the expectations/quotas/ etc. These companies should be fined for violating the ESA. A precedence needs to be set for greedy companies that only have dollar signs in their eyes. It is time that pharmacists need to be treated like a professional, like human again so that we can best serve our patients with a smile and not as an interruption to our much needed break time.

The SECOND step that should happen is to make Pharmacies 100% owned by pharmacists again ! Not this 50.00001% ownership where the other half is owned by people in suits without a healthcare background and just a business background- who try to squeeze every dime out of pharmacy as a business and trample on pharmacy as a profession (ie. relentlessly pushing meds checks and script count with threats of repercussions - more labour cuts!!- if the said quotas are not met. Billable government services should be a pull- in that patients ASK us for it, not a PUSH where we push a pile of paper to people who don't feel the need nor want to discuss their medications).

Please, give pharmacies BACK TO PHARMACISTS and guaranteed, patients will be better served by HAPPY, HEALTHY, SMILING PHARMACISTS.

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