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Bill 207 defeated, ACP Code of Ethics to remain intact

November 27, 2019
Pharmacy professionals are reminded of their ethical responsibilities to respect each patient’s right to health care.

On November 21, 2019, an all-party committee of the provincial legislature rejected Bill 207, a Private Member’s Bill that would have allowed health professionals to refuse to provide care to an individual based on a conscientious objection, without a requirement to refer the individual to another health professional. The Bill would have also required professional colleges, such as ACP, to dismiss any complaints related to conscientious objections.

ACP was concerned about the proposed legislation as it was originally presented to the Legislative Assembly. After the Bill passed first reading, ACP worked collaboratively with other colleges to propose amendments to the Bill to make it more consistent with our Code of Ethics. The amendments were accepted by the Bill’s sponsor; however, before the amendments could be debated, the committee voted for Bill 207 to not proceed.

What does this mean for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians?

It means that ACP’s Code of Ethics remains intact.

Pharmacy professionals are reminded of their ethical responsibilities to respect each patient’s right to health care. Principle 5.3 of the Code of Ethics states that pharmacy professionals will “assist each patient to obtain appropriate pharmacy services from another pharmacist or health professional within a timeframe fitting the patient’s needs if I am unable to provide the pharmacy service or will not provide the service due to a conscientious objection.”

Exercising conscientious objection proactively and respectfully

Conscientious objections by pharmacists or pharmacy technicians must not impede the right of individuals to receive unbiased information, including where to access legally permissible and available health services. Conscientious objection should be addressed proactively and respectfully so as to not disrupt access to care, nor to disrupt pharmacy team behaviours and relationships.

If a pharmacist or pharmacy technician wishes to exercise conscientious objection, they should

  • provide a statement in writing to their supervisor in advance of the possibility of receiving a prescription for a drug or request for a service that they have moral objection to; and
  • familiarize themselves with pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other regulated health professionals in their pharmacy or within their area, who they may inform an individual about when seeking the specific service that they object to.

In this way, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can best prepare themselves and their team should they receive a prescription for a service that they morally object to.