For Immediate Release May 13, 2011
Pharmacists' fears rise after NDP passes Bill 17
DARTMOUTH - With Bill 17 passing the legislature today, Nova Scotia pharmacists are concerned about the future of pharmacy and the provincial government’s unwillingness to treat pharmacists in a fair manner. “We are concerned that government's unwillingness to compromise around the timing of Bill 17, notwithstanding the overwhelming concerns of pharmacy and small business, signals what we can expect in the tariff negotiations, “ said Allison Bodnar, Executive Director of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia. “The government has fundamentally altered the business model of pharmacy with this legislation. I hope they are prepared to address the consequences of this legislation, including the significant shortfall in reimbursement, in a new tariff agreement.”
This week, on three separate occasions, NDP MLA’s rejected amendments to Bill 17 that would have resulted in a fair and reasonable compromise. The amendments were rejected at the Law Amendments Committee, at the Committee of the Whole House and during a motion during Third Reading of the Bill. "Fifty-four people sat in front of the Law Amendments Committee and explained to the members the importance of delaying the passage of Bill 17," added Ms. Bodnar. "Anyone who attended these sessions would have seen the fear in the eyes of these pharmacists and owners who have invested their heart, energy, time and money into pharmacies and communities that are threatened by the uncertainty this bill creates." PANS has repeatedly stated that its members support the government's goal of reducing the price of generic drugs in the province but that such measures need to be taken in conjunction with the other elements of the funding model. Other organizations, like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, also appeared at the Law Amendments Committee in support of pharmacy owners.
"We all know that change takes time if we want it to be implemented successfully. This government has stated that it will need four years to balance the provincial budget, yet they are only giving pharmacists 12 months to adjust to the drastic changes resulting from this legislation. We were only asking for a little more time - time to adjust our business models and time to negotiate fair compensation with the government," said Rose Dipchand, President of PANS.
Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald has stated that she has directed her staff to do their utmost to achieve a fair tariff agreement by July 1. PANS is committed to doing everything within its means to do the same.
"If it takes meeting 24 hours a day to get a fair agreement in place by July 1, PANS is willing to do it," noted Ms. Dipchand. "We hope that the government shares our commitment."
With the passage of Bill 17 and without comprehensive fair pharmacy funding, pharmacies in Nova Scotia will experience an average loss of $150,000 in the first year and a loss of $220,000 annually in subsequent years. In order to address this loss, pharmacies will be forced to reduce staff, hours and services. Despite their best efforts, some pharmacies will be unable to survive unless a fair pharmacy compensation model in place before the new legislation takes effect.
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