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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Even More Convenient Care Close to Home Coming to Communities Across Ontario

TORONTO — The Ontario government is making it more convenient for people to connect to care closer to home by allowing pharmacists to treat and prescribe medications for an additional six common medical ailments. This is in addition to the 13 common ailments that pharmacists have already been prescribing for since January 1, 2023.


“Expanding the list of common ailments pharmacists can treat, people will now get faster, more convenient access to the care they need closer to home, while helping to further reduce wait times at our community clinics and hospitals,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Pharmacist prescribing has been a huge success and Ontario is now one of the leading jurisdictions in Canada in providing convenient health care services through pharmacies.”


Starting today, people will be able to visit a local pharmacy to receive prescriptions for:

  • acne;

  • canker sores;

  • diaper rash;

  • yeast infections;

  • parasitic worms (pinworms and threadworms); and

  • nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

This is in addition to the 13 common ailments pharmacists have been able to treat since January 1, 2023:

  • hay fever (allergic rhinitis);

  • oral thrush (candidal stomatitis);

  • pink eye (conjunctivitis; bacterial, allergic and viral);

  • dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact);

  • menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea);

  • acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD));

  • hemorrhoids;

  • cold sores (herpes labialis);

  • impetigo;

  • insect bites and hives;

  • tick bites (post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease);

  • sprains and strains (musculoskeletal); and

  • urinary tract infections (UTIs).


Since the start of this year, 89 per cent of Ontario’s pharmacies have been treating common ailments, providing over 400,000 assessments. Stopping by a local pharmacy saves people a trip to the doctor’s office and gives family doctors more time to help people who need more specialized care.


As with visiting a family physician or walk-in clinic, Ontarians can receive a prescription from a pharmacist for common ailments with just their Ontario health card. The cost of the medication being prescribed will continue to be paid for by people directly or through their drug benefits plan.


Recent changes by the province also allow pharmacists to administer certain injection and inhalation treatments so that they can better care for people who need help taking certain medications, such as insulin, vitamin B12, or osteoporosis treatment. Ontarians can now access this service at their local pharmacy for a professional fee, similar to fees to receive travel vaccines.


This work is part of Ontario’s Your Health Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, which focuses on providing people with a better health care experience by connecting them to more convenient options closer to home, while shortening wait times for key services across the province and growing the health care workforce for years to come.


Quick Facts


  • Overall surgical waitlists continue to decline and the average length of stay for patients admitted to an emergency department has decreased over the last year.

  • Anyone with symptoms should contact their local pharmacist to confirm whether they provide prescribing services for certain common ailments before visiting the pharmacy.

  • This change builds on pharmacists’ current knowledge, skills and judgement to recommend over-the-counter medications and allows physicians to focus on the more complex health care needs of their patients.

  • Ontarians can now also visit local pharmacies for Paxlovid prescriptions. Visit ontario.ca/antivirals for more information on eligibility and to find local pharmacies that are dispensing Paxlovid.

  • These changes are being made in partnership with the Ontario College of Pharmacists.


Quotes


"We are already seeing the tremendous impact that the minor ailments program has had in helping to more conveniently connect Ontarians to care. Since the program launched earlier this year there have been more than 400,000 pharmacy assessments for minor ailments. With the expansion of this program on October 1, 2023, Ontarians will now be able to get support for six more minor ailments from their local pharmacist including for canker sores, acne, and diaper rash."


- Justin Bates CEO, Ontario Pharmacists Association


"Expanding the role of Ontario's pharmacists is another significant step towards connecting Ontarians to the care they need, right in their own communities. This announcement aligns with our commitment to improving access to care for patients and we are proud to work with the Ontario government and the Ontario College of Pharmacists to make these positive changes."


- Jeff Leger President of Shoppers Drug Mart


"We applaud the Government’s announcement to expand access to minor ailments services through neighbourhood pharmacies across Ontario. We are pleased to have partnered with the Government to support their commitment to timely and accessible care in communities across the province. We look forward to continued partnership to further enable pharmacies to serve as community health hubs providing convenient and accessible care to Ontarians."


- Sandra Hanna CEO, Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada


"The independent pharmacists of I.D.A., Guardian, Remedy'sRx and The Medicine Shoppe are continuing their commitment to care by offering choice and convenience for their patients to obtain quality health care close to home and when they need it the most. The addition of these six minor ailments affords pharmacists the opportunity to expand the in-pharmacy services by using their experience and scope helping to provide health care quickly, while giving them the tools and resources to provide the best patient care options possible."


- Smita Patil VP Professional Affairs, McKesson Canada


"Our pharmacies have proven to be a crucial health care destination for our communities in Ontario and our patients are relying more and more on our pharmacy teams when it comes to their health care needs, including minor illnesses. Acknowledging the vital contribution pharmacists make in delivering accessible healthcare, we are excited about further broadening our pharmacist services and expanding our scope of practice to address six additional minor illnesses. This expanded scope of care will continue to enhance our commitment to support our communities, alleviate healthcare system pressures, and continue to improve the well-being of Ontarians."


- Nicolas Caprio President of Rexall Pharmacy Group


Additional Resources


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