Latest News: Pharmacies required to have COVID-19 safety plan
Although community pharmacy has been following guidelines and implementing safety measures since the beginning of the outbreak in March, members should be aware that all businesses – including community pharmacy – are required to have a written COVID-19 Safety Plan and it must be posted for everyone to see.
Employers are expected to be able to produce a copy of the business's COVID-19 Safety Plan to a health officer or a WorkSafeBC officer upon request, as per a Provincial Health Officer order dated May 14.
How to develop your COVID-19 Safety Plan:
- Visit WorkSafeBC’s returning to safe operations FAQ page. This will provide an overview of what is required.
- Review WorkSafeBC’s Retail: Protocols for returning to operation information page for what protocols are required.
- Download and use WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan template This checklist is fillable and will help you develop your COVID-19 Safety Plan.
BCPhA clarifies scope of practice for students and temporary registrants
We understand staffing levels continue to be a concern. We have received a number of questions from employers regarding the hiring students, particularly those who had jobs lined up prior to the COVID-19 state of emergency.
The BCPhA has prepared a small FAQ to answer some of these questions:
What is a pharmacy student's scope of practice?
A Student Pharmacist Registrant can actually practice to the same scope as a full pharmacist, but only under the supervision of a full pharmacist approved by the registration committee for that purpose. Students should only practice within the limit of their knowledge and skills irrespective of this scope. For a student to administer injections, the full pharmacist providing direct supervision also needs to be certified to administer injections.
What will happen to fourth year students this year since they cannot take the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) exam in May?
They will be eligible to register as a Temporary Limited Pharmacist or Limited Pharmacist. We anticipate these students to register as a Temporary Limited Pharmacists since there are no College registration fees other than the criminal record check fee of $28. Temporary Limited Pharmacists can practice to the same scope as a full pharmacists, but only under the supervision of a full pharmacist approved by the registration committee for that purpose.
Do Student Registrants and Temporary Limited Pharmacists require insurance if they are practicing under direct supervision of a full pharmacist?
Yes, they need their own insurance coverage. The exception is when you are on a practicum as a student, you are covered by UBC’s General Liability insurance.
If you have any questions, please contact Vince Lee, Director, Member Services, at email@example.com
BCPhA's Hire-a-Pharmacist service
Whether you are looking for full-time, part-time or relief shift, post your resume today on the BCPhA Hire-A-Pharmacist page and make yourself visible to more than 900 Corporate members who are pharmacy owners.
How to submit postings?
After filling out the available forms in the links below, a BCPhA staff member will review the posting.
After approval, the posting will be available on the hire-a-pharmacist or hire-a-technician page. After a period of time, a notification will be sent to the member to either renew or remove the posting.
Job postings are free and unlimited for Corporate members. General members pay a fee of $1,000 plus GST for a 30-day posting. Resume postings are free.
BC Pharmacy Association offering Insurance options for Temporary Registrants and Students
The BC Pharmacy Association is supporting upcoming graduates, retirees, non-practicing pharmacists, and pharmacists and pharmacy students from another province who are choosing to step up during the COVID-19 pandemic by registering as a Temporary Registrant with the College of Pharmacists of BC.
To support the Temporary Registrants, the BCPhA is offering special liability insurance for just $200 per year plus GST, which works out to $17.50/month. This special rate includes the ability to receive a pro-rated refund so you only end up paying for the time you need the insurance, whether that's a month, three months, or even longer.
For pharmacy students who wish to work in a pharmacy outside of UBC practicums, you also require malpractice insurance as your UBC General Liability insurance only covers you for, “University-sponsored activities such as practica and approved University sports activities, are covered, subject to certain policy exclusions.”
To register for insurance, click the link below.
If you have any questions, please contact Vince Lee, Director, Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beware of scams during COVID-19 pandemic
The BC Pharmacy Association has been notified by several members that they have been contacted by suspected scammers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCPhA understands pharmacies are seeking alternative suppliers to keep store shelves stocked. It is important to remember to exercise due diligence when interacting with any alternative supplier.
In the latest example, the BCPhA learned that a member was offered the sale of a substantial amount of personal protective equipment by a supposed manufacturer. Upon closer inspection, it appears the seller was attempting to misrepresent themselves as a legitimate supplier.
Health Canada is also warning against false or misleading health products being sold for COVID-19. The Government of Canada has published a list of hand sanitizers and disinfectants that meet Health Canada’s requirements, and provides guidance on the use of masks and respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The BC Pharmacy Association recommends the following tips to protect yourself from being a victim of scam:
- Check the vendors' business registrations
- Look up regulator certificate numbers to ensure the information matches
- Consider phoning vendors back through credible contact listings to confirm that a caller is legitimate
- There is a worldwide shortage of PPE. If the offer seems too good to be true, that is a sign to be extra vigilant
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam targeting pharmacies, or an attempted scam, please consider sharing the information to protect your colleagues through email@example.com.
Changes to May 2020 Pharmacist Qualifying Examination
The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) is rescheduling Part I (MCQ) of the Pharmacist Qualifying Examination from May 2020 to Aug. 4 and 5, 2020. Emails will be distributed to candidates registered for the original May 2020 exam.
Part II (OSCE) of the Pharmacist Qualifying Examination for May 2020 has been cancelled.
The PEBC is currently planning to hold the next Part II exam in November 2020, as scheduled, but is delaying the opening of new applications for that exam.
There is currently no change to the June 26 Pharmacist Evaluating Examination, but COVID-19 remains a factor for its feasibility.
More information will be made available in the "Latest News" section of the PEBC website.
Clarification on pharmacists' exemption from self-isolation
On March 18, 2020, Dr. Bonnie Henry clarified that pharmacists and other health-care workers are only conditionally exempt from self-isolation in certain situations while at work. Please see the following additional clarification from PharmaCare.
Additional clarification from PharmaCare:
Pharmacists may be exempt from self-isolation requirements after travel if they are critical to the operation of their organization/pharmacy. Pharmacists who have recently returned from outside Canada should self-isolate if they are not critical staff. If a pharmacist must work after travelling, they should self-monitor carefully and use a mask and gloves to protect others if they have any respiratory symptoms. PharmaCare Newsletter, March 18, 2020
Clarity on waiver of 50-person limit for large grocery stores
The BC Centre for Disease Control has issued updated guidance to help stores calculate the maximum number of people in a store to support physical distancing.
Grocery stores are not prohibited from having 50 or more people inside.
But, it is recommended that stores permit five square metres of unencumbered retail floor space per person.
According to the guidance, calculating how many people should be in a store based on the store's customer floor space should be done by:
- first identifying the amount of floor space inside a store
- subtracting space used for shelving
- dividing the unencumbered floor space number by five
IE) If a store has 200 square metres, with 70 square metres used for shelving, the store operator should divide the 130 square metres of customer-floor space by five. In this case, this store should have no more than 26 people inside.
The full guidance document is available here.
College of Pharmacists of BC's instructions for remote working, change in operating hours, and unanticipated temporary pharmacy closures
The College of Pharmacists of BC has issued information on pharmacists who are looking to work from home, or otherwise must effect a temporary closure of their pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For pharmacists seeking to work from home:
The College's instructions are that clinical tasks such as counselling are not restricted to the physical pharmacy site, but patient confidentiality should be considered. Pharmacists are not permitted to store scheduled medications in locations other than licensed premises.
For pharmacies that require a change in operating hours:
Pharmacies are advised to notify the public of any change in operating hours and notify the registrar of the College via the pharmacy's eServices profile.
For pharmacies facing an unanticipated temporary closure:
Full instructions from the College for temporary closures is available here. For pharmacies facing a temporary closure of up to 90 consecutive days, the pharmacy manager is required to complete all the steps under the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act, section 18(2)(dd), which is reproduced below.
In the event of an unanticipated temporary closure due to unforeseen circumstances, which is permitted for no more than 90 days,
- notify the registrar of closures of 15 to 90 days in accordance with the policies approved by the board,
- where possible, contact all patients whose prescriptions are ready for pick-up to advise of the closure and provide them with the opportunity to obtain their prepared prescriptions,
- where possible, notify patients, the public, and local prescribers of the closure and alternate means of obtaining essential pharmacy services during the closure in accordance with the policies approved by the board,
- apply for a new pharmacy licence if the closure will exceed 90 days, and
- return any prepared prescriptions in the pharmacy to inventory and reverse those prescriptions in PharmaNet;
College of Pharmacists of BC releases Guidance Flowchart for pharmacy staff affected from COVID-19
The College of Pharmacists of BC has issued a flow chart to help community pharmacies to determine whether or not pharmacy staff are exempt from self isolation.
The flow chart takes into account steps that pharmacy staff members should consider following returning from travel outside Canada, and how pharmacy staff should assess contacts with high-risk individuals in escalating levels of contact.
On March 20, the College also issued clarity to advise pharmacy teams on self-isolation, to define who critical pharmacy staff are, and also the roles of managers and owners. You can find that notice here.
College of Pharmacists' physical barrier requirements deadline extended to Dec. 31, 2020
In 2017, the College of Pharmacists of BC brought into effect a number of changes to enhance security of pharmacies, including a requirement that community pharmacies install "physical barriers" such as locked gates, grillwork, locked cabinets, doors and shelving units, to prevent access to pharmacies by non-registrants when a full pharmacist is not present. (See Section 11.1 (2)(b) and (2.1) of the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act Bylaws)
Initially, all pharmacies were required to meet these changes by April 21, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is extending the deadline to install physical barriers to Dec. 31, 2020.
More information is available on the College's website.
College exempts Professional Development and Assessment Program requirements for remainder of 2020
The College of Pharmacists of BC has approved Professional Development and Assessment Program (PDAP) exemptions for the remainder of 2020. This means Continuing Education (CE) submissions will not be required for registration from March 31 to December 31, 2020.
Normally, each pharmacy professional must complete a minimum of 15 hours of CE each year, including five hours of accredited learning. PDAP exemptions are also granted to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who wish to be reinstated after being non-practising and/or former status for less than 90 days.
More information is available on the College of Pharmacists' website.
For questions related to PDAP, contact the College’s Professional Development department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College of Pharmacists of BC: Self Isolation and Pharmacists; Defining Critical Pharmacy Staff; Role of Managers and Owners
The College of Pharmacists of BC has put together some advice for pharmacists to answer questions on self-isolation requirements for health-care workers such as pharmacists, clarity on who is critical to the functioning of a pharmacy, and the responsibilities of managers and owners with respect to this advice.
The below excerpts are taken from the College's full notice.
Self-isolation advice for pharmacy professionals
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians may be exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirement after travel outside of Canada, if they are considered critical to the operation of their organization/pharmacy.
Who is Considered “Critical Pharmacy Staff”?
Determination of whether or not an individual pharmacists or pharmacy technician is critical to the delivery of essential services is the responsibility of the pharmacy manager. If the pharmacy manager is in self-isolation or is otherwise unavailable, this determination is the responsibility of the pharmacy owner. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who have not been deemed critical to the operation of their pharmacy MUST observe the 14-day self-isolation requirement after returning from travel outside of Canada on or after March 12, 2020.
What is the role of pharmacy manager and owners?
As leaders of organizations providing essential services, pharmacy managers and owners are responsible for ensuring that their staff follow the required 14-day isolation protocol after returning to Canada, unless their absence will make the delivery of essential services impossible.
The decision to provide an exemption to any individual pharmacist or pharmacy technician must be based on a comprehensive risk assessment as laid out in the Order from The Provincial Health Officer.
Pharmacy managers and owners must prioritize protective measures for any staff members that have been given an exemption.
Essential health worker status for pharmacists
Pharmacists are considered essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia. The Emergency Management BC office and the Provincial Health Officer has determined that pharmacists are a direct-to-public health service, and that pharmacies themselves are considered essential health service providers.
The B.C. government has declared that as pharmacies are an essential service, they should and are encouraged to remain open, while following the orders and guidance provided by B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to protect the safety and health of their staff and patients.
The following additional information may impact pharmacists and their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic receive priority testing
- Licensees of long-term care facilities, along with workers and contractors, will be reporting their staff and contractors' names, contact informations, Social Insurance Numbers and additional information using instructions as directed by the Provincial Health Officer, by midnight, March 28, 2020
- Employees, contracted workers and volunteers are ordered to only work in one long-term care facility, unless given an exemption by the Medical Health Officer. This order was put into effect on March 26, 2020
COVID-19 Federal Government Economic Response Plan
Prime Minister Trudeau announced this week that the government will spend up to $82 billion, including $27 billion in direct support for Canadian workers and businesses. Please see below for a summary of additional economic measures to help Canadians affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic that are most relevant to BCPhA members.
Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents
For Canadians that don’t have paid sick leave who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children. This income support will help by:
- Waiver of 1 week waiting period – Effective March 15th
- Waiver of medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits
- *NEW* Emergency Care Benefit – Available starting in April 2020
- Provides $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks
- Will be administered through the CRA
Who is eligible?
- Workers, including self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits
- Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Longer-Term Income Support for Workers
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours:
- The Emergency Support Benefit will be providing $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. – Details to be updated.
Income support for individual who need it most
Doubling the Goods and Services Tax credit
- One-time special payment by early May 2020
- Approximately $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples
Families with children
- Increase maximum annual Canada Child Benefit by $300 per child (only for 2019-2020 benefit year)
- $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities.
- Six-month interest free freeze on repayment of Canada Student Loans for those currently repaying
- Helping senior’s who have been exposed to the volatile market conditions: Reducing minimal withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF’s) by 25% for 2020
- $157.5 Million for Reaching Home initiative supporting people experiencing homelessness Tax Deadlines
- For individuals the tax filing deadline is extended until June 1, 2020 (from April 30, 2020)
- If you owe taxes the revised deadline for payment is now deferred until after August 31, 2020
Canada’s big banks (BMO, CIBC, National bank, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD) will allow mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months. The mortgage deferrals will be done on a case by case basis without mention if the deferral is interest-free or simply just a delay. More details will be released on this in the coming days and will likely vary from bank to bank.
If you require mortgage deferral, please speak to your bank or your mortgage broker.
The government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.
- Subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
- There is no mention as to what an eligible small employer is or what the conditions are yet.
This document will be updated as we have more information. Please check our resource page for regular updates.
Federal government proposes Canada Emergency Student Benefit
On April 22, the federal government proposed a Canada Emergency Student Benefit and a Canada Student Service Grant to provide support for students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
These new proposed benefits would provide:
- $1,250 per month for eligible students, from May to August 2020
- $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities, from May to August 2020
- Up to $5,000 for education in fall 2020 for students who provide "national service" during the pandemic
In addition, there are a number of existing skills development, employment and youth programs that are being expanded, including:
- Expanding the existing Canada Student Grants to provide up to $6,000 for full time students and $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21
- Broadened eligibility for financial assistance
- Raising weekly Canada Student Loans Program loan amount to $350
Updated: COVID-19 financial relief resources
The BC Pharmacy Association is continually updating our resource for financial assistance during COVID-19. This relief, made available through various levels of government, includes information on Employment Insurance, Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the BC Emergency Benefit, subsidies for business owners and more.
New financial relief programs announced by the federal and provincial governments this week include:
- For individuals: The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit has been expanded to include Canadians making up to $1,000 a month, seasonal workers and individuals whose Employment Insurance has run out.
- For families: Temporary Emergency child care is available for essential workers aged infant to 5 years.
- For businesses: The Province is providing enhanced relief for businesses by reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25%, along with new measures to support local governments facing temporary revenue shortfalls as a result of COVID-19.
To access the financial help resource, click here.
Updated BCPhA COVID-19 Guidelines for Pharmacists
The BC Pharmacy Association has updated its COVID-19 Guidance, Prevention and Control Strategies document for pharmacies. The document was last updated on March 24, 2020.
The guidance includes measures drawn sources including the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, the Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
The BCPhA COVID-19 Guidance, Prevention and Control Strategies checklist document will be regularly updated, and provide guidance for pharmacies in the following areas:
- Creating an emergency preparedness plan
- Adjusting pharmacy operations
- Preventative/protective measures for staff and patients
- Best hygienic practices
- And more
Large grocery stores exempt from mass gathering order prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people
On April 16, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health issued a clarity: the mass gathering order, which prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people, does not apply to grocery stores.
Large grocery stores are still expected to follow appropriate physical distancing, particularly in areas where people may congregate, such as in line-ups, entryways, checkout counters and product pick-up locations.
The full statement from the BCCDC and Ministry of Health is available here.
March 16: Self-quarantine exemption
Last Friday, Dr. Bonnie Henry released a letter through the College explaining that health-care workers “who provide direct patient care” are exempt from self-quarantine after travelling. Members had questions on whether that included pharmacists.
Today the College issued a second notice to registrants on self-quarantine measures for those who have travelled aboard. Today’s notice makes clear that pharmacists are included in the exemption.
“Health care workers who return from travel and are essential to the delivery of patient care may return to work but should take additional precautions to reduce the risk to their patients, colleagues, and the public should they become symptomatic:
- Self-monitor daily for signs and symptoms of illness
- Wear a surgical mask at all times and in all areas of your workplace
- Follow Infection prevention and control protocols including diligent hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment when delivering patient care
- Reduce close contact with other health-care workers and avoid shared spaces where possible
- Avoid close contact with others when travelling to and from work and between shifts
- Self-isolate at home on days when not required at their workplace.
Additional precautions may vary by facility, health-care setting, or workplace based on the patient population being cared for and risk assessments made by regional or local public health officials, infection prevention and control experts.”
ShiftPosts: need an extra hand or have an extra hand to offer?
With the burden on pharmacists raising amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, pharmacies may be looking for additional help. ShiftPosts has over 1,000 pharmacists across Canada ready to join your team. Not only that, ShiftPosts will be waiving all posting fees for the month of April for BC Pharmacy Association members.
Thank you pharmacists across B.C. for the work you do every day and every hour for your patients and communities across the province, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
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Students supporting pharmacy deliveries
University of B.C. pharmacy students along with other health science students across the province are volunteering their time to support the healthcare community during the COVID-19 crisis.
They are looking to assess the need for a prescription delivery service to help pharmacies safely deliver medications particularly to elderly and immunocompromised patients. They understand that some pharmacies may already have delivery services available, but that the additional support is needed due to high volumes so would like to see if they can supplement this effort and also provide an option for pharmacies that may not already have this in place in order. The service will exclude OAT and cold-chain.
This goal of this service would be to fill an unmet need in the community - it would be temporary, non-profit, and would abide by College guidelines.
If you are interested, please fill out the following form to help them determine need and feasibility:
Temporary College registration for former registrants, non-practising pharmacists, pharmacy graduates and pharmacy students now active
The College of Pharmacists of BC has approved Temporary Registration to permit pharmacy professionals to provide pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are four classes under temporary registrations. Their eligibility requirements are reproduced below. Eligible applicants are asked to apply through the College's Temporary Registration Application Process.
For more information, see the College of Pharmacists of BC's website.
1) Temporary Pharmacist
- Those who are registered as equivalent of full pharmacist in another jurisdiction in Canada or the United States, and have no restrictions/limitations/conditions on practice
- Former registrant who was a full pharmacist within past three years
- Non-practising pharmacist registered as a full pharmacist within the last three years
2) Temporary Pharmacy Technician
- Those currently registered as the equivalent of a pharmacy technician in another jurisdiction in Canada, and have no limitations/restrictions/conditions on practice
- Former registrant who was registered as a pharmacy technician within the last 3 years
- Non-practising pharmacy technician who was registered as a pharmacy technician within the last 3 years.
3) Temporary Limited Pharmacist
- Pharmacy graduates who have completed their Structural Practical Training (SPT) requirements but not all the required assessments for registration
- Pharmacy graduates who have completed their Jurisprudence Exam, PEBC Evaluating (if applicable) and Qualifying Exams, but not their SPT
4) Temporary Student Pharmacist
- Pharmacy students enrolled in a recognized pharmacy education program outside B.C.
To submit comments to the College for feedback, follow the instructions below:
Comments on changes to regulatory college bylaws may be submitted by email, feedback form or regular mail. These submissions should be addressed to the attention of the Director of Policy & Legislation.
Bob Nakagawa, Registrar
200 - 1765 West 8th Avenue Vancouver, BC V6J 5C6
Watch out for fraudulent prescriptions
As an increasing number of practitioners and pharmacies rely on verbal or faxed prescriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is increasingly important for pharmacy teams to be vigilant for illegitimate prescriptions.
Pharmacy teams should ensure:
- the prescription was faxed from the physician's office and not by a patient
- all requires aspects of a prescription (date, signature) are included
- that the patient's identification is confirmed
- that the prescription has not already been filled elsewhere through the patient's PharmaNet profile
More information is available on the College's website to help pharmacies guard against prescription fraud.
WEBINAR Managing COVID-19 Day-to-Day: More Answers to Pharmacists’ FAQs
As the pharmacy profession grapples with providing effective patient care while preventing the spread of infection during COVID-19, pharmacists have many new questions.
The Canadian Pharmacists Association is bringing together McKesson Canada’s Smita Patil, University of Waterloo pharmacy professor Kelly Grindrod and BC Pharmacy Association vice-president Annette Robinson (Pharmasave Pacific) to answer your latest questions on managing day-to-day during a pandemic.
Date: March 23, 2020
Time: 10 to 10:45 a.m. Pacific Time
This webinar is freely available to all pharmacists.