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How Canada’s Pharmacists are Keeping us Healthy


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Aside from your family doctor, who do you turn to for expert health care advice? Your local pharmacist? Good answer! Just as our health care needs have evolved, so too has the role of pharmacists.

In addition to dispensing medications, today’s pharmacists are taking on expanded roles as medical counselors, educators, and health care advocates.

Pharmacy Facts

Here are a few quick facts about pharmacy in Canada*:

  • There are more than 42,600 pharmacists, working in over 11,400 pharmacies nationwide.
  • Pharmacists represent the third largest group of health care providers in Canada, after nurses and physicians.
  • 95% of Canadians live within 5 kilometres of a community pharmacy, making pharmacists the most accessible health care providers in the country.
  • Canadians see their pharmacist on average 14 times per year. That’s 5–7 times more often than they see their general physician.
  • Canada’s pharmacists dispense and provide advice on 750 million prescriptions per year.
  • There are 30 pharmacies for every 100,000 Canadians. Each pharmacy manages 1,300 patients on average.
  • In the 2020-21 flu season, pharmacies administered 5.6 million influenza vaccines — a new record.

Pharmacists’ Roles

Maintaining good health involves more than taking prescription medications. Much more. When you step up to the pharmacy counter today, a pharmacist will:

  • Check your medication record when you get a new prescription or refill one to ensure your safety.
  • Inform you about adverse reactions and interactions with other medications, food, alcohol, and other beverages.
  • Counsel you on how and when to take doses to help us manage our medications.

In addition, they may:

  • Follow up with you to make sure your medications are working.
  • Offer tips on how to minimize side effects of our medications and maximize the benefits.
  • Share advice on using non-prescription remedies, taking health supplements such as vitamins, exercising and maintaining a good diet to help us heal or avoid getting sick.
  • Listen to our concerns.

Pharmacists may also be responsible for adapting medications, ordering and interpreting lab tests, assessing and prescribing for minor ailments and helping us manage chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and hypertension.


Pandemic Response

During the pandemic, Canada’s pharmacy community went to great lengths to be there for Canadians when we needed them most — including evenings and weekends. They answered our questions, relieved our concerns, gave a record number of flu shots, in addition to providing other health care services, while keeping us and their staff safe from the virus.

Now, as key members of Canada’s health care team, pharmacists are getting set to administer the COVID-19 vaccine – the largest public health mobilization of its type in Canadian history.


Show Appreciation

March is Pharmacy Appreciation Month, an opportunity to celebrate the important work of pharmacy professionals in our health care.

Here are a few ways you can show your appreciation:

  • Wish your pharmacy team a Happy Pharmacy Appreciation Month next time you visit the pharmacy.
  • Have a pharmacy team member you love? Enter the #MyFavePharm contest and you’ll be entered into a draw for an opportunity to win a tablet for both you and your favourite pharmacy team member.
  • Take a few minutes to learn more about what your pharmacist can do for you at rethinkpharmacists.ca.

*Sources: Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, Canadian Pharmacy Association