Since the first presumptive case of Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) was identified in Ontario on January 25, 2020, the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) has been working with a number of provincial and federal partners to advocate on behalf of pharmacy professionals, and to keep aligned and abreast of COVID-19 activities that are being undertaken on behalf of our partners. OPA staff have been active in a variety of ways advocating and promoting your value toward population health and in maintaining continuity of care. Among all of these requests to government, OPA continues to work within the framework of highlighting the risks pharmacy professionals at the front-line face every single day and calling for their inclusion on the list of essential practitioners requiring access to government-supplied personal protective equipment (PPE). Key highlights of our activities include:

  • Active participation on daily health stakeholder teleconference calls with the MEOC since Day 1 of COVID-19 
  • Formal participation at the MEOC’s Collaboration Table chaired by Deputy Minister Helen Angus and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams
  • Communication and collaboration with the Executive Officer of the Ontario Public Drug Program regarding relaxation of various rules of claims adjudication
  • Driving the authorship of pharmacy guidance document and subsequent versions approved for distribution by Ministry of Health
  • Submission of recommendations to the Minister’s Office for increased consideration of pharmacy’s role and risk at the front-lines of care during pandemic COVID-19
  • Request to government to cover additional co-pay expenses for patients incurred through 30-day supply policy
  • Accelerated passage for pharmacists to be able to apply therapeutic substitutions where necessary
  • Accelerated passage and implementation of regulations to enable expansion of scope for minor ailments and emergency prescribing
  • Inclusion of pharmacy professionals on the list of essential front-line practitioners to access government-supplied PPE
  • Relaxation of health policies that restrict virtual provision of care (e.g., MedsCheck)
  • Application of funding relief for pharmacy’s increased reliance on delivery services for prescriptions
  • Accelerated passage and implementation of point of care testing, particularly for COVID-19
  • Passage and implementation of regulatory changes to enable owners and operators of laboratories to share a patient’s lab results with their pharmacy
  • Suspension of pharmacy audits during the state of emergency
  • Request to government to include pharmacy professionals practising in public healthcare facilities in pandemic pay policy
  • Advocating for pharmacy services in long-term care

OPA continues to dialogue with the Ontario government in this regard and will provide updates to members on these and other initiatives and requests as they become available. Members with other practice-related questions are encouraged to access the Practice Support Network (PSN) service by emailing [email protected].