28 July 2011

Where isn’t the democracy in that?

Robert Doyle spoke to reporters recently on behalf of some independent drug store owners in the province.
Doyle complained about a change to regulations for the provincial government’s prescription drug program that required a drug store owner to give 120 days notice before withdrawing from the program. CBC quoted Doyle:
Robert Doyle, spokesperson of the Independent Pharmacy Owners association, said the move seems a little heavy-handed.
"Pharmacies could have to go to court and if found guilty, up to a $2,000 fine and six months in jail. So he's looking at putting a criminal offence against pharmacy owners," Doyle said.

Where’s the democracy?
Where indeed.

There is nothing in any provincial law that forces drug stores to accept payment from the provincial prescription drug plan. Under section 16, a drug store can ask for a provider number and get one.

The drug stores had to decide to accept payment from the plan in the first place.

But that’s not all.

Under the regulations approved on July 25, drug stores can legally withdraw from the program without any penalty. All they have to do is give 120 days written notice, post a sign in the drug store and send out letters to any patients they’ve served within the past 12 months.  That might sound like a bit of work but given that the drug stores should have contact information on file, it isn't half as hard as it looks.

If they do all that then – on Day 121 -  they aren’t accepting direct payment any more.


But not exactly.

Under subsection 4 of the regulations, the minister can “waive or shorten” the notice period. Any drug store owner who is seriously pissed off enough that he or she doesn’t want to accept direct payment from the provincial drug program can easily write and ask the minister for the period to be shortened or suspended entirely.

In other words, anyone who wants out can get out today, right now, no waiting.

None of them will ask for a waiver.

None of them will issue the 120 day notice now required.

That’s because this dispute isn’t about democracy any more than it is about rural versus urban this or that.

It’s about money.

Everything else is nonsense.

- srbp -


Brad Cabana said...

Hey Ed, sound framiliar: send out the heavy threats and then change the rules so they can get the result they want....Just sayin.

Edward Hollett said...

I see your point, Brad but I take this one a bit differently. For starters, they didn't change the rules on your: they completely ignored the rules and just made up an answer that suited their purposes. That's not being cute: i think anyone looking what happened with the leadership would appreciate there was nothing delicate or subtle in what they did.

What I heard in Kennedy's comments about drug store owners was a certain amount of bravado and taunting. His references to fractures and disagreements among the drug store owners sounded about right from what I know of the situation. I'd bet money that they all don't agree, so his comments played upon a known weakness.

If the drug store owners had followed the old rules to the letter, they'd likely have had a good argument to carry on as they'd proposed to do. But that assumes they intended to stop accepting payment from NLPDP.

The thing is I don't believe any of them had the intention of carrying out their threat. It wouldn't matter if it the rules said one day or 120. They were just trying a bargaining tactic and he called their bluff.

In your case, they frigged you over and didn't give a toss about it.

Brad Cabana said...

Point taken on all accounts. In my case I'm happy they did. Wonder how they're feeling about it these days:)