Politics and pharmacy associations…a bad mix

There has never been a time in the province of Ontario when the electorate was in such a quandary as to whom to vote for in the upcoming provincial election.

Each party puts out the usual political Pablum with promises galore: no new taxes, economic growth, more services etc etc.  Happy days are here again!

All parties promise to spend money yet unearned, by people yet unborn, and all to gain or retain power.

It would not be so bad if at least there was a hint of leadership capability; but alas there is none.  The cupboard is bare.

Personally, I predict one of the lowest voter turnouts in Ontario history, as many voters are in the same predicament as I am.

The PC party is led by leader with a master’s degree in economics who is incapable of doing basic arithmetic.  Even when his numbers are challenged by 200 PhD economists he remains resolute to his numbers.

The NDP is led by a leader who has lost sight of her own electoral base.  This leader provoked an unnecessary election and then lacked the funds or platform to fight the election she started.

I save my best for the Liberals.  Where does one begin?  eHealth $1 billion and growing and still no electronic health records.  Ornge Air Ambulance…the report came out today and sights, corruption, incompetence, lack of oversight with hundreds of millions lost.  Gas plants cancelled at costs in the billions.  A health minister who is in way over her head, and now way past her due date.  Pharmacy has suffered much during her tenure.

And in the middle of this our association…the OPA which continues to profess that it represents the 14,000 pharmacists of Ontario (though only about half are really members) comes up with 3 priorities that make little economic sense to government (regardless of party) which has no money.

If this is about saving money for the healthcare system, let’s evaluate the three priorities from the government’s narrow fiscal perspective.

FIRST PRIORITY: An extension to pharmacists to provide injections beyond flu shots. This technical act is being done by others right now…doctors, nurses, public health workers etc. How does switching this function to pharmacists save money?  And have we not repeatedly witnessed Big Retail Pharmacy promoting the heck out of shots in order to create more customer traffic in order to sell more pizzas, chips, Pepsi, and now decadent chocolate chip cookies?

THIRD PRIORITY: Extension of smoking cessation program. Who could argue that the sooner smoking is eradicated from the face of the earth the better (though cigarettes continue to be sold in some pharmacies in Canada?) But the benefits of smoking cessation take time to realize. Politicians, at best, have a three or four year time horizon. From their narrow, self interested driven perspective, this idea is cash flow negative.

SECOND PRIORITY: …which I have deliberately placed out of order and last. This one does make sense economically on the short & long term. Saving one trip to the emergency department for poison ivy rash saves hundreds of dollars. The only issue here is that if pharmacists can save hundreds of dollars through intervention, shouldn’t pharmacists be compensated at least as much as a walk- in clinic would charge for the same intervention? And my pet peeve…to whom will dollars for this intervention be paid? To the pharmacy owner? i.e. Sobeys, Walmart, Loblaw, Costco etc? How do practicing pharmacists who do the critical intervention benefit from this?

Has the OPA even asked this question?  Probably not on the radar screen.


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