TORONTO, April 12 /CNW/ - The Ontario Pharmacists' Association, the Independent Pharmacists of Ontario, and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, independently and jointly, have written the following letter in response to the letter sent by Minister Deb Matthews, earlier today, attacking the reputation of Ontario pharmacists:
April 12, 2010 Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care 10th Floor, Hepburn Block 80 Grosvenor St. Toronto, ON M7A 2C4 by facsimile 416-326-1571 Dear Minister Matthews, Ontario's approximately 7,500 community pharmacists work each and every day to provide front-line health care to Ontarians. We take exception to your letter, delivered earlier today, that is as inflammatory in tone, as it is inaccurate in facts. Your letter is hardly in keeping with our desire for an ongoing, respectful dialogue we are hoping to continue concerning the proposed cuts your government is initiating to front-line patient care in Ontario. Pharmacists are partners in the delivery of high-quality health care to the patients and communities we serve. That is why we worked so diligently with your Ministry for the past nine months on negotiations around changes to our sector - changes we all agree are necessary. This is why we have advocated so strongly for expanded scopes of practice for pharmacists that allow our front-line health providers to deliver the full breadth of services to our patients that our professional training allows. At no time in our nine months of intense discussion did you raise these issues about professional allowances with us. When a lack of compliance could be as little as an incorrect postal code we think your statements on this subject have been highly inaccurate and have sought to damage the reputation of our profession. Your letter is an unprecedented attack on the motivations of community pharmacists. By way of this response, we want to directly refute the inaccurate statements contained therein. The system of Professional Allowances in Ontario was designed by your government, are regulated by your government and audited by your government. We are of course interested in ensuring all comply, but your wholesale accusation of impropriety is little more than a smear. First, you continue to claim that pharmacists have 'abused' the system, which is a provocative and wholly offensive characterization of the compensation model pharmacies rely upon to pay staff, overhead, and extend hours beyond the normal work day. Professional allowances cover 25-30% of the average pharmacy's operating costs in Ontario. This helps to cover the funding shortfall created by the discrepancy between the $14 actual cost of filling a prescription and the $8 reimbursed by the government. Your proposed cut of these allowances deals a direct and severe blow to the ability of pharmacies to continue offering the high levels of service our patients have come to rely on. It also dramatically betrays our ability to expand our services in line with the enhancements to our scope of practice negotiated with your government. In short, your massive health care cut means patients - often seniors and those with chronic diseases - will be left without the level of service they have come to expect and deserve. This is not our choice, but the simple reality necessitated by the cuts you have proposed. Second, you make reference to an inaccurate media report (which was corrected on the same day) that claimed pharmacies temporarily withheld our services in response to news of your health care cut. This is simply without basis in truth. Your statement also presupposes pharmacies are colluding to act together in a way that is detrimental to the patients we serve. As we stated at the outset of this letter, we are always willing to engage the government in a constructive, forward-looking dialogue. Instead, we were party to a lengthy negotiation that ultimately went nowhere, and where little information was shared with us. You forced us to sign a non-disclosure agreement which limits our ability to respond to ad hominem attacks on the reputations of some of the finest, most dedicated and most talented front-line health professionals in Ontario. Furthermore, leaking your letter to the media before delivering it to pharmacists only underscores your unwillingness to engage in the type of constructive dialogue that we've long advocated. We hope you will engage in an authentic dialogue based on an honest desire to improve patient care in Ontario. We respectfully request an immediate retraction and apology from you for so unfairly maligning the reputation of a profession that prides itself on a keen interest in providing the highest-quality, front-line patient care possible. Sincerely, Dennis Darby, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association Nadine Saby, President & CEO of the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores Ben Shenouda, RPh, BScPhm, Chair, Independent Pharmacist of Ontario
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 of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Ontario Chain Drug Association.
Editors Note: Please be advised that community pharmacists are available, in multiple languages, for interview.
For further information: For further information: Ontario's Community Pharmacies Coalition Media Hotline, (416) 226-9100 x202