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“An unbelievable honour.”

July 9, 2024
Portrait of William (Bill) Shores
Bill Shores, ACP’s legal counsel for 30 years, is recognized with an Honorary Membership.

For 30 years, the Alberta College of Pharmacy (previously the Alberta Pharmaceutical Association or APhA) has been a worldwide leader in advancing pharmacy practice. One of the constant driving forces behind this leadership has been ACP’s legal counsel, William (Bill) Shores. At ACP’s Celebration of Leadership on June 12, 2024, Bill was recognized with an Honorary Membership, which is presented to an individual who has never been a regulated member of the college and has, in the opinion of Council, rendered distinguished service to the practice of pharmacists or to the practice of pharmacy technicians. 

“It was an unbelievable honour,” said Bill. “I am truly thankful for the college granting me this honour. I was very moved.”

Bill began working with the APhA in the mid 1990s and right away became involved working with significant legislation—the Pharmaceutical Profession Regulation—that would help shape how pharmacy practice is performed today.

“It was significant because it really switched the practice of pharmacy from being solely the dispensing of drugs to the provision of pharmaceutical care,” said Bill. “It helped build an entire professional role for pharmacists and vaulted the profession from being a technical profession and a commercial profession to one that focuses on patient care.”

From there, Bill worked on the legal aspects of separating the APhA into two distinct organizations: ACP and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, which became official in 2000. This separation established clear lines between an organization that serves the public and one that serves the interests of pharmacists.

A few years later, Bill contributed to what he calls the highlight of his career working with ACP—the effort to give the college the ability to grant authorization for pharmacists to prescribe and to inject drugs. This was achieved in phases, beginning with development of the Health Professions Act (HPA) followed by the Pharmacy and Drug Act and the regulations under the HPA.

“It was a long and arduous process,” said Bill. “The Council, college staff, and I worked to make sure that the HPA was flexible enough to recognize the full scope that pharmacists were able to practise to. The HPA opened up the opportunity for pharmacists and other professions to practise to their full potential.”

After years of tough negotiations with government, the Acts and their regulations passed in 2007. To see where pharmacists have taken these authorizations since fills Bill with pride.

“This legislation changed the face of the pharmacist profession and how health care is delivered in Alberta,” said Bill. “I think that we’re going to see a continued growth in the scope under which pharmacists prescribe. Historically, we always knew that pharmacists had the best knowledge of drugs, but there wasn’t a tool for them to turn that knowledge into direct care for their patients through prescribing.”

In 2011, Bill also contributed to changes to the HPA and what is now the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation which led to pharmacy technicians becoming a regulated profession in Alberta. He was also a key contributor to ACP implementing new standards, and successfully appealing a legal challenge, to ban inducements from pharmacy practice in Alberta. Once again, it was a years-long effort to make a significant change for the public good.

“It was a hard-fought piece of litigation,” said Bill. “I remember working through at least one Christmas to file a brief for that. It was very intense. It was clear to me that what was at issue was the soul of the profession. The other things I’ve talked about—pharmacy care, prescribing authority, authority to administer injections—are reflective of the profession that serves the public interest foremost and doesn’t focus on the commercial benefits. This piece of litigation put at issue the tension between the view of the patient’s best health interests being foremost against the commercial interests of proprietors, so the stakes were high.”

There have been many major changes in pharmacy practice in Alberta during the past 30 years, and Bill was a significant contributor to each of them. He considers it a privilege to have had the opportunity.

“I kind of grew up in my profession with the people at ACP,” said Bill. “Greg was a young registrar. I was a young lawyer. We’re now both at the end of our careers. We started off purely as lawyer and client. Over the years, we became friends and likewise with many other people I’ve worked with. It’s also an honour to have done it with my team. David Jardine was my partner and huge contributor, particularly in the inducements battle. It’s been a team effort.”

Even though he is winding down his law career, Bill is still working on a few projects for ACP when opportunities arise. Which begs the question—why keep going?

“ACP is a client made up of wonderful people serving a great public good,” he said. “Frankly, when it comes to work that I like to do, ACP work is right up there.”