Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

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!

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