Pharmacist launches petition to address systemic racism in health care
- EFN Staff | April 04, 2019
An Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and the first self-identified Indigenous Doctor of Pharmacy in Canada created a national petition to address systemic racism in health care.
Dr. Jaris Swidrovich announced the petition on April 3, 2019 to shed light on First Nations and Inuit individuals who are ineligible to receive certain professional services from pharmacists in most provinces across Canada at no cost, while non-First Nations and non-Inuit persons accessing the same services are considered a public benefit under the respective provincial health system.
“In most Canadian provinces, people can sit down with a pharmacist for up to an hour to have a comprehensive medication assessment, as well as follow-up visits with the pharmacist,” he said in a media release. “The pharmacist collaborates with the patient’s family physician regarding any identified issues with the patient’s medications. Rightfully so, these professional services are paid for by the respective provincial health systems.”
Dr. Swidrovich, the first and only self-identified Indigenous faculty member in pharmacy in Canada, is a Saulteaux First Nations and Ukrainian man, from the Yellow Quill First Nation.
He stated that in most provinces, First Nations and Inuit persons are not eligible to receive the same services that non-First Nations and non-Inuit individuals do. This is because health is a provincial jurisdiction for Canadians but is a federal jurisdiction for First Nations and Inuit persons.
Indigenous Services Canada does not currently recognize such professional services from pharmacists and therefore, in most Canadian provinces, First Nations and Inuit persons have to pay out of pocket - or not receive the service at all - while other Canadians may receive such services at no cost because the provincial health systems pay for it.
“Considering that pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals in Canada and the greatest gaps experienced in terms of health outcomes are witnessed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, this issue must be resolved if we are committed to closing such gaps in health outcomes,” he said.
The second highest expenditure of health care dollars in Canada, after hospitals, is prescription medications. The rate of growth in health dollars spent on prescription medications has outpaced that for both hospitals and physicians, which are number 1 and number 3 top costs to the health care system in Canada.
“Undoubtedly…professional services offered by pharmacists, such as comprehensive medication assessments, have the ability to not only reduce spending on prescription drugs but also improve health outcomes for Canadians and this should be the same for First Nations and Inuit persons in Canada, too,” said Dr. Swidrovich.
The petition reads, “We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Indigenous Services to recognize all provincially publicly funded professional pharmacy services (e.g. medication reviews/assessments) as eligible and reimbursable benefits under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program in all provinces and territories of Canada where the same service is otherwise offered and publicly funded for all other non-First Nations and non-recognized Inuit citizens.”
This petition closes in 30 days, after which the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada has 45 days to respond. The petition has been endorsed by Member of Parliament for Saskatoon West, Sheri Benson, and can be found online at: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2135.