On June 8, 2017 the management of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) published a fact check list, in support of its position in its current dispute with its employees who are represented by their bargaining unit, ultimately as members of the Ontario Public Services Employee Union (OPSEU).  The following is taken verbatim from that fact list:

OPSEU   fact check – Volume 3

“FACT: Our retail employees receive some of the most generous wages in the retail sector. These are good jobs. Over 50% of our casual employees receive more than 1,000 hours per year. As well, as part of the recent Arbitration award,  the LCBO will post and fill 200 PFT jobs, with the first 100 being posted this month. At the top end of the single wage grid that was recently awarded, casual Customer Service Representatives can now earn more than $27 per hour.”

Personally, I love the LCBO, and I believe the employees who work there deserve the best deal they can bargain for.  I offer no comment on the $27.00 per hour as I am sure the employees more than deserve to be well paid for the great work that they do.

Concurrently, the Ontario government, in an effort to bolster its abysmal voter approval ratings, introduced a bill that will see the minimum wage in Ontario rise from the present $12.50/hr to $15.00 by Jan 1, 2018.  All good.  There is no reason why in a province as wealthy as Ontario, people should have to live below the poverty while working full time.

Below, again verbatim & off the internet, is an ad by RPI Consulting Group on the same date, June 8 / 2017.

Shift 13:00 – 16:00
Rate $39.00
Rate Description
City Etobicoke
Province/State Ontario
System Nexsys
Avg Rx per day 100

Frankly this $39.00 is good news.  Last month the rate was $30.00 and not too many months ago it was as low as $27.00 / hour.  BINGO…the same rate as a casual customer representative (read cashier) at the LCBO.

This begs the question.  Why would anyone with a 99% passing grade average spend more than $150,000 to get a PharmD degree, then pay hundreds of dollars in annual dues to the OCP, then pay hundreds more in insurance premiums, then accept all the liability?  And then, to work in a grocery store, in a kiosk, right next to the kiosk selling wine and staffed by a kid with a high school diploma, and essentially make the same take home pay?

How did the profession of pharmacy get itself into this terrible position?    How did society come to value the role of a pharmacist so low, while that same system has no problem compensating physicians in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, & still the physicians are not happy?  They want more, and many are double billing to get more. (Globe & Mail editorial June 9th, 2017)

These are complex questions with many variables, but the most significant factor is this.  Physicians are paid by the government directly, which government negotiates directly with the representative physician association.  Pharmacists (not including hospital) are paid by retail businesses, affectionately referred to as Big Pharmacy Retail (BPR), and the value of the pharmacist to society has zero bearing on the value of, and therefore the compensation level, these employee pharmacists.  Their biggest value is to act as a prop in order to sell tons of DSTM (drug store type merchandise in industry parlance).

While this paradigm persists, pharmacists can go ahead and refer to themselves as the “most trusted”, as the “most accessible”, as “medication experts”, as the “most loved” etc., but all these descriptions will have zero bearing on how pharmacists are valued, and therefore how they are compensated.

Increasing the education level from BScPhm to PharmD, only serves to add insult to injury as the amount of money invested, and the waste of knowledge becomes even more aggravated.  The credibility spread just gets wider.   This single reality should be the first thing that pharmacy schools teach their students day one, if these schools valued their honesty and integrity.  This would help students steer their career paths forewarned and prepared.

Once again, it takes two to tango…a giver and a receiver.  As long as pharmacists passively accept, what could easily be described as a tragedy, pharmacists will continue to be fed the same swill.

Dig your head out of that trough now and cut a new path.  It is never too late to set out and to create your own destiny.  The younger you are as a practicing pharmacist, locked up in some kiosk out there in retail wasteland, the more important this imperative applies.  What have you got to lose…only your entire professional career?