Ontario's Community Pharmacies Reveal Health Minister Unwilling to Negotiate

TORONTO, April 23 /CNW/ - Ontario's Community Pharmacies are questioning Health Minister Deb Matthews' stated intention to negotiate with pharmacists.

Ontario's Community Pharmacies have obtained leaked secret emails that demonstrate the Premier's office and the Minister of Health's office are plotting advertising campaigns that would break Dalton McGuinty's campaign commitment and contravenes existing law. This aggressive ad campaign has been created to turn the public against their pharmacists, showing bad faith on the part of the government.

Yesterday, the Minister said that she has invited the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) to meet with her. However, what she deliberately didn't tell Ontarians is that despite best efforts to have the OPA included in negotiations, the Minister consistently refused. Now, the Minister is asking the OPA to come to the table, and neither the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) nor the Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario (IPO) have been invited to join the discussion.

"Why would she not invite all interested parties to join in on the discussion? And further, why is the government secretly planning to spend precious tax payer dollars to turn the public against their health care providers - pharmacists that Ontarians rely on each and every day," said Donnie Edwards R.Ph, B.Sc. Phm, pharmacist and owner of Boggio and Edwards IDA in Rideway, Ontario.

Ontario's Community Pharmacies remain hopeful that we can return to a constructive dialogue as soon as possible and work together collaboratively to find the right solution for the health care for the people 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.

    Editor's Note: Copy of emails referenced below

    (blacked out)   (MOH)
    From:        (blacked out)
    Sent:        (blacked out)
    To:          (blacked out)
    Subject:     Fair Drug Prices - Meeting Notes

    Hi Everyone,

    To ensure that we're all on the same page, I've summarized points
    discussed at our meeting on Friday. If I've missed anything, please

    Briefs were developed for the three campaigns:
    1) Choices/Options -- There are many ways you can get answers to your
    medical questions
    2) Ontario's health system is getting smarter -- Public education on
    drug systems reform
    3) Ontario's drug Benefit plan-contingency plan -- You have alternatives
    to getting your ODB prescription filled

    Creative was presented for the first two briefs.

    Ad Idea 1

    Public Education Strategy (prescription pad)

    -   Concern was raised over using the prescription pad visual and
        "chicken scratch" writing stereotype as a visual device in the
        campaign. CiB was directed to discontinue further development on this
    -   CiB/agency team were directed to focus this campaign on "affordable
        drug prices". CiB cautions that we do not want to make the
        communications focus about price and risk negative reactions to the
        ads around cheaper health care or saving money. The benefit needs to
        be about strengthening health care through investing savings from
        this initiative that result in better access to a wider range of
    -   CiB also cautions that we need to uphold our public education
        commitment and honour OAG guidelines. To focus on "paying too much
        for drugs" may present approval problems.

    InfoGraphic Video:

    -   The team agreed this element is the priority in terms of getting
        final creative, approvals, and posting on the website as
        well as through other social media tools.

    CiB/agency were asked to:
    -   shorten the time of the video (currently 2.5 minutes)
    -   focus the narrative of the video on "fair drug prices" that this
        initiative will lead to and not be an extended explanation of
        professional allowances
    -   CiB advised that the purpose of the video is to take a complex story
        and make it simple. As part of the ultimate benefit of fair drug
        prices in Ontario it is necessary to touch on professional allowances
        and why they contribute to higher generic drug prices in Ontario.
    -   The team agreed to eliminate the phrase "drug system reform" from all
        communications materials and focus on "fair drug prices" as the name
        of the initiative

    Other ad ideas present for Choices strategy-stylized graphics, red
    guy/blue guy, quintuplets and pill.

    -   Overall, except for quintuplets which was not discussed, the team
        liked the print/radio creative that was presented for this campaign.
    -   The idea of using one creative idea that encompassed all three briefs
        was discussed and no concerns were raised over this approach.
    -   Team agreed that red guy/blue guy talking pills creative should be
        extended and expressed in print/radio/online and potentially the
        infographie video (the caveat-budget and production time)
    -   Team agreed that we should develop one more creative idea (could use
        "stylized graphics or pill) that can be expressed in

    ODB contingency (if service is discontinued)

    -   CiB explained that the final ad idea will be used to develop print
        campaign/direct mail for this strategy.
    -   There is currently no content for this ad beyond "go to another
    -   Media plans were included in the deck that was circulated for review
    -   Team agreed that agency begin development on content for this ad

    Action Items

    To be developed for April 20

    -   Agency to develop "red guy/blue guy idea" into print/radio/on-line
        and infographie video

    -   Agency to develop one other ad idea as campaign alternative for
        print/radio/on-line and infographie video (as above)

    -   Agency to revise script for infographie video
    -   CiB to obtain additional content from program area for the "ODB
        contingency ad and revise brief to agency

    Required ASAP

    -   PO/CO/MO to review media plan alternatives and to advise ASAP on
    -   As requested, CiB to revamp website content on DSR to include
        "simple/friendlier" language, graphics/visuals and more stylized,
        edited content
    -   CiB recommended immediate implementation of search engine
        optimization and marketing. PO/CO/MO agreed.

    (blacked out)

    (blacked out)   (MOH)
    From:        (blacked out)
    Sent:         Friday, April 16, 2010  10:29 AM
    To:          (blacked out)
    Cc:          (blacked out)
    Subject: contact report and deliverables for today

    (blacked out)

    Summary of what we are working toward for today's meeting...

    -   Present "education" area first
    -   Ed to share one pager of strategy for each area
    -   Focus on print, online, radio options, with TV as a maybe
        Note: both "prescription" and "talking pills" have potential as
        online video
    -   Placeholder url is Ontario.ca/fairdrugprices
    -   Use moh wave branding New slide from Michelle to be included
    -   Media: speak to rural radio

    1.  Education
        -  "Prescription"
           -  Share original version as well as simplified :15sec that
              focuses mainly on url.
           -  Radio example Video - share "fast to produce" example only

    2.  Choices
        -  "Graphic", "Quints" & "Talking Pills"
        -  Radio example for choices
        -  Print idea to support "Talking Pills"

    (blacked out)

    (blacked out)

    (blacked out)


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

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