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Centre Article 099: Yet More Pharmacists Who Don't Understand Ethics: This Time Ontario

Written by Iain Benson

September 9, 2005

The Ontario Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council ("HPRAC") is holding hearings with respect to a variety of health professional groups. One of these is the Pharmacists and Pharmacy technicians. Information on this and the various submissions made to this body may be viewed here.

On March 22, 2005 the Ontario College of Pharmacists made a submission to the HPRAC. Appendix 5 of this submission dealt with the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians. This may be viewed here.

Most interesting is Principle 4 which states:

The pharmacist and pharmacy technician respects the autonomy, individuality and dignity of each patient and provides care with respect for human rights and without discrimination. No patient shall be deprived of pharmaceutical services because of the personal convictions or religious beliefs of a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.

Well, go figure. For pharmacists and pharmacy technicians the accommodation of religious belief and conscience guaranteed by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be suspended should this principle go ahead as drafted. This is not the approach taken by doctors, and the Canadian Medical Association would not endorse this blunt and unfair kind of principle. Why are Pharmacists deemed to be so different as citizens or professionals that they cannot exercise the full rights of other citizens and professionals? Why indeed.

There are some by invitation only "focus groups" going ahead this month in Sudbury and Windsor and Ottawa but the deadline for comment has passed. It might be possible, however, for concerned individuals or groups to make an appearance and express their views.

If you go to this site, you can find out information on who to contact to make a submission. But the dates for the focus groups are as follows:
September 13, 2005 – Sudbury
September 14, 2005 – Ottawa
September 20, 2005 – Windsor

For further information please contact:
Karen Lane, Consultation Co-ordinator
416-325-8928 / toll free 1-888-377-7746

Needless to say, all those concerned with the freedom of expression and belief and the autonomy of citizens (not just health care users but providers as well) ought to be concerned about this unfair and likely unconstitutional approach taken by yet another group of pharmacists. Just where did these people learn their ethics and who is advising them as to the law in Canada?

It is time that they dug a little deeper and examined why the doctors do not take the same narrow and frankly totalitarian view of professional practice.