West Quebec’s double liability
Shortage of hospital pharmacists hits hard
Québec’s association of pharmacists within healthcare facilities is dispensing two messages. First, they want more spaces in the hospital pharmacist training program.
Québec has two training programs, one each in Montreal and Quebec City. The Association des pharmaciens des établissements de santé du Québec (APES) wants the number of training places increased from 70 to 85 or 90.
Second, the APES wants the salary of hospital pharmacists kept competitive.
“The shortage of pharmacists in health care facilities is four times worse than nurses. We have a 19% shortage across Quebec. About one in five positions are not filled,” said Linda Vaillant, Director General of APES.
In West Quebec, there are 40 hospital pharmacist positions with CISSSO, with seven open and five about to retire.
“We are not asking for identical salaries (with the private sector), but the wage gap cannot be too wide,” said Ms Vaillant.
To account for the shortage, the APES points to the previous considerable wage gap between local pharmacists and those in hospitals. Besides salaries, the training required for work in a hospital is longer – two years longer.
“In some cases, the difference in salary was $40,000 and those making more studied less,” noted the APES representatives. “Some candidates finished their four years of schooling and could make $100,000 to $110,000 from the start, while pharmacists heading to a hospital needed to train for another two years.”
“At one point the shortage (in hospitals) reached 27%,” said Ms Vaillant. “The situation is slowly improving, but salaries must be maintained at a level similar to the private sector. They don’t need to be equal because there are other advantages in the public sector, the social benefits. It’s also a different environment, which is quite dynamic.”
In Outaouais, the province must also consider the salary of Ontario pharmacists. It is fairly easy for a West Quebec
pharmacist to get a better-paying job across the river where a shortage also exists.
“Quebec is the only province where the masters training program is offered; elsewhere in Canada they have a year-long postgraduate hospital pharmacy residency program,” explained APES representatives.
In the ROC there are also more pharmacists from abroad, while in Quebec, mainly because of the language barrier, there are fewer foreign pharmacists to fill vacant positions.
Moreover, those who land in Quebec from abroad must also complete 16 months of extra training. “This is because pharmacists in Quebec have many more responsibilities than those in other countries, such as France.”
In Quebec, a pharmacist deals with 5,000-plus products versus only hundreds in other French-speaking countries. Moreover, pharmacists in France, for example, deal with different fields, such as mycotoxicology.