Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

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.

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