Health Minister Sets Pharmacies up for Failure

Government doesn't follow own established consultation guidelines

TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - Ontario's Community Pharmacies have learned that the McGuinty government's idea of an Open Ontario is one where businesses are set up to fail.

A 2009 Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care internal document demonstrates that it was Deb Matthews plan all along to make big pharmacies thrive and make it hard for the small pharmacies to survive. In this deliberate campaign against Ontario pharmacies, the Ministry examines what it calls the "system's capacity to deliver." The document contains a risk assessment chart, which outlines the reforms now proposed by the McGuinty government, and indicates "low capacity" of smaller independent and rural pharmacies to survive the reforms - which represents 51% of all pharmacies in Ontario. The document further outlines that in some cases rural pharmacies are the "only healthcare provider in region."

The McGuinty government's April 8th announcement of proposed changes to the regulations under the Ontario Drug Benefit Act and Drug Interchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act, will render independently owned and operated pharmacies - small businesses - most affected by these reforms. The government only allowed 30 days for consultation on the proposed regulatory changes.

However, as part of the Government's Open Ontario initiative, as of April 1, 2010 businesses in Ontario are entitled to a minimum of 45 days to review and provide comments on regulatory proposals that may have an impact on their livelihood. On April 22, Ontario's Community Pharmacies asked Health Minister Deb Matthews for a two-week extension of the consultation period. There is still no response.

"I am disappointed and shocked that the Minister appears to be playing a direct role in threatening more than half of our pharmacies with permanent closure. Not only was she warned of the effect this would have on our independently owned pharmacies, she's also denying us a sufficient amount of time for consultation. She actually hasn't even dignified pharmacists with an answer," said Donnie Edwards, R.Ph, B.Sc. Phm, pharmacist and owner of Boggio and Edwards IDA, Ridgeway, Ontario.

Today, analysts and associations alike have warned of the devastating effects the McGuinty government's front-line healthcare cuts will have on small business:

      -  Canadian Federation of Independent Business President Catherine
         Swift: "This (is an) unprecedented attack on the livelihood of
         Ontarians who operate independent, family-owned pharmacies."

      -  Rob Cavallow, Mackie Research: "I think what you'll see is just a
         handful of independent pharmacies remaining across the province."

      -  Patricia Baker, Scotia Capital Analyst: "They will likely
         destabilize Ontario's pharmacy industry and seriously impact patient
         access to services and pharmacists. 'It's the little guy here who
         has been dealt the hardest blow.'"

The Premier himself said "it's not the government's job to ensure the survival of smaller pharmacies," clearly demonstrating that his government has no concern for local pharmacies or the communities that they serve.

Ontario's Community Pharmacies continue to call on the government to do the right thing and protect Ontario families from these reckless cuts to front-line 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.


For further information: For further information: Ontario's Community Pharmacies Coalition Media Hotline, (416) 226-9100 x202

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