McGuinty government to slash funding for local pharmacy services

Cuts will limit access for seniors and chronically ill patients

TORONTO, April 7, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Pharmacists across Ontario expressed alarm for their patients given the McGuinty government's plan to slash funding for pharmacy services. The massive funding cuts, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year, will put community health care services at risk, and directly contradict the government's promises to make new health services more convenient and accessible through pharmacies. Pharmacists in Ontario fear their ability to be available to their patients will be severely reduced.

"I'm deeply concerned that these cuts will have a severe impact on front-line health care delivery across Ontario," said Donnie Edwards, a pharmacist in Port Colborne. "Patients need to receive quick, helpful, and in-depth assistance from their local pharmacist - especially elderly patients and those with chronic conditions. By cutting millions of dollars in pharmacy funding, the McGuinty government is reducing access to this essential healthcare resource."

Observers predict the latest round of cuts will force pharmacies to reduce operating hours and one-on-one patient consultations. In some locations, pharmacies are expected to close due to the anticipated funding gap. Extended wait times for pharmacy services will become the norm, much like those experienced for emergency services, medical specialists and other essential medical services.

"For neighbourhood pharmacies, the government's cuts will mean reduced hours of operation, less staff, and fewer patient services," said Ben Shenouda, a community pharmacist in Brampton and president of the Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario. "Health care cuts hurt patients - and this multi-million-dollar cut will hurt a lot of vulnerable patients across the province. Pharmacists will fight hard to stop this cut, on behalf of the thousands of patients we treat every day."

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.