Shortage of about 3,000 pharmacists in Quebec, major concern: OPQ

By Katrine Desautels, The Canadian Press

All health-care sectors are facing a significant shortage of staff, but it’s a major problem in the pharmaceutical industry, whether in pharmacies or hospitals, says the president of the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec (OPQ).

In an interview with The Canadian Press on Friday, Jean-François Desgagné expressed his concerns about the shortage of pharmacy professions, but he was also optimistic.

Desgagné is encouraged, among other things, by the arrival this year of the first cohorts of pharmacy technicians. This new program was offered in 10 CEGEPs across the province in fall 2021.

However, he does not deny that the situation is critical. According to the president of the OPQ, there is currently a shortage of at least one pharmacist per pharmacy in Quebec, and in small hospitals there is a shortage of approximately three, and in large hospitals, five to nine.

“Roughly speaking, there is a shortage of 3,000 pharmacists in Quebec,” he said. “Pharmacists organize themselves, we are organizational beasts, but we must be aware that we cannot stretch an elastic band infinitely,” Desgagné said.

The results of the latest survey on the workforce of the Association of Pharmacists of Health Establishments of Quebec (A.P.E.S.) pointed in this direction.

In emergencies, 62 per cent of the need for pharmacists to provide pharmaceutical care is unmet, and around 15 per cent in oncology, even though treatments are essential to the survival of certain patients.

In intensive and coronary care units, among hospitalized patients, 50 per cent of the need for pharmacists to provide pharmaceutical care is not covered.

In renal dialysis, there are 13 pharmacists employed out of 73 required, which barely meets 18 per cent of the needs while dialysis patients are particularly vulnerable to medications due to the reduced filtration capacity of the kidneys.

For these four sectors alone, 235 additional pharmacists are needed, the A.P.E.S estimated in March.

“Workforce concerns are the major issue in the profession currently, as in many other professions. (…) There is not a day without us talking about it in the media, but let’s say that in pharmacy, it is the major concern,” Desgagné said.

–This report by La Presse Canadienne was translated by CityNews

The Canadian Press’s health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

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