Across Canada, the scope of what pharmacists can and can’t do varies across the provinces. Alberta, which has been at the forefront when it comes to additional prescribing authority, allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics. In Nova Scotia they can prescribe for minor ailments like acne and cold sores. Pharmacists in British Columbia can give strep throat tests and in Saskatchewan, they can prescribe birth control and bladder infection medication.
In Ontario, pharmacists are largely restricted to refilling and extending prescriptions, with little to no ability to prescribe medications. However, the Ontario Pharmacists Association is hailing a move that may give pharmacists in Ontario new powers to assess patients and prescribe medications, allowing them to use the full extent of their medical expertise.
The government has introduced measures to expand the scope of practice for pharmacists and hopes this change will relieve stress on the healthcare system by diverting patients away from overloaded emergency rooms and allow doctors to focus on patients with more complex needs. Government officials have announced this transition as a “basic change” which will save patients time and money.
Looking ahead, The Minor Ailments Advisory Group will be providing guidance and making recommendations to the Ontario College of Pharmacists. They hope to have the additional powers by summer, such as prescribing medications for coughs and colds, sore throats, pink eye and urinary tract infections.
Keep your eye on the media and ask your pharmacist questions, as they may provide faster and more convenient access to your prescriptions in 2020!