Pharmacy Services in BC and Ontario Expanding in 2023
With BC’s health system and emergency rooms continuing to experience significant strain, including close to one million British Columbians unattached to a family doctor, expanding the range of services available at community pharmacies will help to increase British Columbians’ access to critical medications and improve patient health outcomes.
This announcement by Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and other healthcare initiatives have been rolling out since mid 2022 in an attempt to strategize the best way forward for British Columbians and medical services across the province.
In spring of this year, pharmacists in BC will be able to prescribe some medications independently. This will include some forms of contraception and medication for minor ailments like urinary tract infections and allergies. This means you will be able to access care faster when you need it.
Pharmacists in Ontario also got new powers on Jan. 1, 2023, allowing them to prescribe medications for 13 minor ailments including urinary tract infections, tick bites, pinkeye, cold sores and dermatitis. According to the announcement, pharmacy prescribing will also help free-up doctors’ bandwidth to provide care for more complex needs, helping to reduce wait times for these services.
A 2019 University of Waterloo study estimated that almost one third of non-urgent emergency room visits were for conditions that could potentially be managed by pharmacists if they had the scope of practice available in other parts of the country.
Pharmacists in other provinces like Alberta have been allowed to prescribe all drugs except narcotics and controlled substances since 2007, so BC and Ontario’s new initiatives are the beginnings of catching up to other provinces. Here is a chart outlining pharmacist scope of practice across Canada.
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