A plan to cut $150 million from Alberta's Health Care Budget over the next two years is unfairly targetting the province's pharmacists.
That accusation comes from the head pharmicist at Riverside Value Drug Mart in Drumheller.
"The biggest issue I have is in year two: there's this hold back where they hold back a minimum of ten per cent of my professional fees, my upcharge (and) everything else," outlined Ray Ainscough. "The upcharge, I have to pay a good portion of that to my wholesaler, so technically if they (Alberta Health) are over budget, I could potentially lose money filling a presciption."
"If we're (Alberta Health) over budget that's too bad for you; if we're under budget we'll pay back a portion to you, which never happens," he argued. "We're talking about a government that doesn't know how to be fiscally responsible: they're 10-point-whatever billion in debt each year and they want to squeeze us for a few million."
The news came as a surprize to Ainscough and all other pharmacists not on their association's bargaining committee, as the talks were subject to a non-disclosure agreement, and it's not the only bad news they've had.
"In this year alone there's been three major effects to pharmacies," noted Ainscough. "There's the increase in minimum wage, which affects all small business; there's this pan-Canadian pricing on generic drugs, which is costing pharmacies a lot of money; and then this new Blue Cross agreement is going to cost more money."
The new framework calls for a small reduction in pharmacists' dispensing fees, but also places a cap on the number of fees that can be charged for patients requiring frequent dispensing of medication.
Some Alberta pharmacists have talked about having to lay off staff to make ends meet, but Ainscough isn't willing to discuss that right now.