Media Advisory: Ontario's Community Pharmacies Question Government Tactics

TORONTO, May 20 /CNW/ - Ontario's Community Pharmacies Coalition today called upon the Premier and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to explain how a systematic attack campaign, which disparages Ontario pharmacists and misleads the public into thinking that the government is saving them money, is a demonstration of a willingness to engage in an open and constructive dialogue that would lead to a solution that maintains pharmacy as the hub of community healthcare.

"What motivates a campaign of this nature, which began with Minister Matthew's announcement of April 7 about the McGuinty government's plans to make massive cuts to funding the frontline healthcare that pharmacists provide? How do these words and actions get us to a solution that preserves pharmacy and healthcare services in our communities?" asked Ben Shenouda, RPh, BScPhm, Chair, Independent Pharmacist Association of Ontario.

Premier McGuinty and Minister Deb Matthews say they want to save Ontarian's money while fairly compensating pharmacists for the valuable role they play in the healthcare system yet they recklessly spend taxpayer money to disparage trusted front-line health professionals who are only trying to preserve their ability to care for their patients and protect their livelihoods and their profession.

Premier McGuinty and Minister Deb Matthews appear to be violating the government's commitment not to fund political advertising with taxpayer's dollars.

"We have a question: who is funding these ads against pharmacy?" said Mr. Shenouda.

Several MPPs have launched individual attack campaigns that appear to be part of an overall Liberal strategy to distract from the real issues related to preservation of community pharmacy and healthcare services: Dave Levac began running anti-pharmacists print ads in Brant, Kevin Flynn has instigated direct dial telephone call outs and messages in Oakville and today Sandra Pupatello launched a radio campaign in Windsor disparaging pharmacists.

Pharmacists are extremely disappointed by these actions against Ontario pharmacists. While the government appears to have singled out large pharmacy chains in their ads, the Coalition wishes to remind all Ontarians that the pending healthcare cuts will impact all pharmacists and pharmacies, 51% of which are independent small businesses. They believe these actions are not indicative of a government who is willing, or remotely interested, in negotiating to save front-line healthcare for Ontarians.

"These government tactics are nothing more than a distraction from the real issue - the government is implementing massive cuts to front-line healthcare services and trying to tell Ontarians that this is good for them," said Shenouda.

Minister Matthews has stayed silent on when regulations would be introduced and whether or not the consultation period would be extended. Pharmacists remain committed to reducing drug prices for Ontarians and negotiating some alternative to the government's proposed massive cut to frontline healthcare.

About Ontario's Community Pharmacies

The Ontario's Community Pharmacies coalition is the unified voice of community pharmacy in Ontario, representing independent owner-operated stores, "banner" groups of independently-owned stores that work together, as well as large and small pharmacy chains. The coalition is supported by the associations and organizations that represent both the profession and the neighbourhood business of pharmacy, including the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, the Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Ontario Chain Drug Association.

SOURCE ONTARIO'S COMMUNITY PHARMACIES

For further information: For further information: or to schedule an interview please call: Ontario's Community Pharmacies Coalition Media Hotline at (416) 226-9100 x202

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ONTARIO'S COMMUNITY PHARMACIES

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