Saskatchewan Pharmacists Under Pressure, Says Corporate VP – Saskatoon

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting pressure on pharmacists.

Chris Chiew, vice president of Drugs Pharmacy and Healthcare Innovation in London, says the pandemic has left the industry overworked and the lack of new pharmacists makes it difficult for current pharmacists to keep up with the increasing number of tasks they have to perform.

“We don’t have more people, but we do have more work. It’s fun to create things in our garden, but it takes people,” says Auclair.

“We have some people who have taken early retirement or are now… going on vacation…,” Chiew told Global News.

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Pharmacy Association Saskatchewan CEO Michael Fougere says Saskatoon isn’t seeing a massive drop in pharmacist numbers, but Regina is.

Fougere says exact statistics and figures on the size of the deficit are not known.

“Maybe they work longer, maybe they close earlier. I don’t think anything is affected in terms of the quality or the type of service people have received. I haven’t heard anything from the public or the pharmacists themselves,” Fougere said.

Fougere says that with fewer staff, opening times across the county have been affected.

“Less staff, fewer hours at pharmacies.”

Fougere says the county has about 1,200 plus pharmacies, as well as pharmacists in other institutions.

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Saskatoon has the college of pharmacy at USask that produces graduates every year. USask College of Pharmacy and Nutrition Assistant Dean Academic Yvonne Shevchuk says they have room for up to 90 students each year.

“We keep track of how many students we graduate each year, it’s in the high 80s. We haven’t had any big swings or anything like that in terms of lack of students,” Shevchuk said.

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New pharmacists must pass their licensing exams before they can get started, and foreign workers need Canadian pharmacy experience, which can take a year or two.

“There is still a gap here in the waiting for new graduates. But it doesn’t solve the whole problem, which is that people have retired and moved to part-time jobs because they don’t want to work that much,” Chiew told Global News via Zoom.

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Shevchuk says there have been shortages of pharmacists in the past, so this is nothing new.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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