Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

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.

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