The Ontario College of Pharmacists recognizes and honours the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings and we believe that there is no room in our society for racism and discrimination in any form—whether an overt act of hate and violence or a covert act of micro-aggression. And it is with sadness that we are witnessing history-making demonstrations south of the border and here in Canada that reveal the hurt, anguish, anger and frustration felt by victims of racism, discrimination and violence in our communities.
As a society, we must do better. The first step is to acknowledge that racism and discrimination exist. We must do our part as an employer, a regulator, and a health profession to speak up when we see injustice, to advocate for the equal rights of all members of the community, and to commit to removing barriers that prevent this.
We have known for some time that racism contributes to inequitable access to health care and in 2018, the Canadian Public Health Association called racism a public health crisis. Pharmacy professionals have contributed to the exceptional public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we strongly believe they can, together, play an important role in responding to this challenge as well.
It starts with making a commitment.
At its June 15th meeting, the College’s Board of Directors acknowledged the impact of systemic racism and discrimination in our society. It subsequently approved a recommendation to work collaboratively with our academic partners to better understand how the student body in our professional schools represents our population, specifically as it relates to Black and Indigenous communities.
Educating ourselves is an important first step toward determining what strategies are required to ensure that pharmacy reflects the patient population it serves. Doing so will require a thoughtful and collaborative effort between the College, the province’s pharmacy schools and pharmacy technician programs, and the profession as a whole. We have now started these conversations and expect to have more to share later this year.
We all must continue to listen, reflect and act on how we can contribute to the elimination of social injustice, from anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and racism against all people of colour, to discrimination against vulnerable populations and those who identify as LGBTQ2S+. Our Code of Ethics of the profession articulates the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence, fidelity and respect. As such, every pharmacy professional commits to upholding the principle of Respect for Persons/Justice, our “dual obligations to respect and honour the intrinsic worth and dignity of every patient as a human being and to treat every patient fairly and equitably.”
As health care professionals, we all must do better to work together to make our society and our health system more equitable and safer for everyone.
Chair, OCP Board of Directors
R.Ph., B.Sc.Phm., MBA
CEO and Registrar