09/01/2013 03:14 EDT | Updated 11/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Quebec Order of Pharmacists calls on pharmacy owners, government to resume talks

Disappointed with the postponement of the Pharmacy Act, the president of the Quebec Order of Pharmacists, Diane Lamarre, is urging the government and the association of pharmacy owners to quickly reach an agreement.

The implementation of the new Act—Law 41—aims to promote better access to frontline healthcare by allowing pharmacists to perform certain services traditionally reserved for doctors, like prescribing medication to treat minor conditions.

Law 41 was set to begin on Sept. 3, however, no agreement on dispensing fees has been reached yet between Quebec's association of pharmacy owners (AQPP) and the Ministry of Health.

With no deal, Health Minister Réjean Hébert announced late last week he is postponing the program's start date.

Lamarre is frustrated serious talks over money issues only started three weeks ago and that both parties have a moral obligation to come to an agreement quickly.

"People who will benefit the most from this are the patients, and for now they are penalized," said Lamarre.

In 2011, the government struck a deal in principle with pharmacists and the College of Physicians to take over some of the services now only offered by doctors.

"We had more than 6,000 pharmacists who completed this formation during the summer time," said Lamarre. "We are ready. We were ready. We are still ready."

Lamarre says the new services will most assist the one in four Quebecers has no access to a family doctor.

A recent study by Quebec's Institute of Statistics shows 30 per cent of people who go to an emergency room realize they don't need that level of care, however they have no other way to get the care they're seeking quickly.