Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Pharmacies rise to the challenge


Pharmacist and associate owner Victor Wong says pharmacies have been a life-line during COVID-19

JUNE 2021 - It was during the darkest days of the pandemic that pharmacists like Victor Wong saw their roles in health care shine brightest. “The pandemic expanded our reach into the community as a hub of healthcare. I think it has forever changed the traditional model of pharmacy as simply dispensing pills and advising people how to take them,” says Wong who is associate owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto.

To be sure, the frontline efforts and expanded scope of community pharmacists during the ongoing health crisis have garnered widespread public praise and shone a spotlight on pharmacists’ skills and capacity to play a leading role in public health.

Now, as COVID-19 vaccination campaigns roll out, pharmacists and pharmacy groups at the national, provincial and community levels are hoping to consolidate the profession’s hard-earned gains and accelerate change by removing barriers that prevent pharmacists from fully delivering their roles in various areas of practice.

Outstanding issues include renumeration for many pharmacy services, increased scope of practice for the management of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes (including the authority to order and interpret lab tests), diagnostic testing for illnesses such as strep throat and urinary tract infections (UTIs) and access to patient information (e.g., electronic health records).

Christina Tulk, Chair of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) and associate-owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Corner Brook, Nfld., says pharmacy’s national association is gathering evidence and advocating that exemptions currently in place to enhance pharmacist scope remain even when COVID-19 is firmly “in the rear-view mirror.”

In the meantime, COVID-19 vaccines present an opportunity to support pharmacists’ ability to work to full scope and to provide the resources necessary to enable that, says Sandra Hanna agrees, an Ontario-based pharmacist/owner and CEO of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada. “One of pharmacy’s core strengths has always been our accessibility and person-centric care close to people’s homes,” she says. “It’s important to be aligned for the common goal of patient safety.”

Get the full story in CFP's Changing Face of Pharmacy Spring 2021 Report. Email Dayle Acorn (dacorn@cfpnet.ca) to get your copy.