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 -