Bow Island Apple Drugs owners Taria and Curtis Gouw have decided to close their doors on March 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the recent NDP cutbacks to pharmacy patient care services in Edmonton to support Pharmacists’ protest against.
“We would’ve loved to travel up there to be at the legislature protest with the rest of the pharmacists and our patients, but we’re just too far away,” said Taria, the head pharmacists.
“We thought as a way of support that we’re not happy and for our patient care that we could close the doors for a few hours (while) they’re doing their protest.”
The protest comes after the NDP government announced at the end of February a collaborative funding framework, which will save $150 million over the next two years by slowing down the growth of spending on government-sponsored drug programs.
Without the new agreement , funding for pharmacy compensation would have to rise to 12.3 per cent over the next two years, but the framework reduces the growth to 4.3 per cent to accommodate population and volume growth. Also, it allows the government to meet its budget target.
“We appreciate the role of pharmacist have in supporting the health care needs of Albertans,” said Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman, in a statement
“Under this framework, pharmacists continued to be compensated at a higher rate than their counterparts in other provinces. We thank the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association for looking at all the tools available to help $150 million in savings to the health budget while also recognizing the need to ensure Albertans continue to have high quality pharmacy services they can depend on.”
Alberta still pays the among the highest fees for providing a vaccine at $13. Comparatively, other provinces pay $7 to $13 for administering a vaccine and Alberta pharmacists will be given the authority to administer more vaccines.
“Pharmacies are still compensated for providing an initial comprehensive annual care plan or a standard medication management assessment plus 12 follow ups per patient annually,” said the Ministry of Health’s office.
“This approach will help to address growth in pharmacy services and maintain the care provided to Albertans.”
Some services that could see cutbacks are yearly care plans and medication reviews injection services, travel vaccine services and smoking cessation counselling.
“The initial (reaction) was panic,” said Taria.
“We went through this fight four to five years ago. They came up with a good plan for us to do extra pharmaceutical care services and we have done that. They kind of dangled this care in front of us and now they’re saying we’ve done too good of a job, it’s no longer sustainable, we want you to keep doing the work but we’re not going to pay you any more.”
For her drug store, the financial impacts will be on the staffing levels and hours of operation which means less accessibility to vital health care that customers expect.
“Pharmacists are still the most accessible health care practitioners in the County of Forty Mile,” she said.
Some of the drug stores employees will be outside sitting in chairs during the protest with the petition that has around 200 signatures.