In 2014, the Ontario government announced its plans to eradicate the provincial deficit by 2018. To accomplish this, it indicated its intention to cut back on expenditures in a variety of sectors, including health. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care informed OPA and Neighbourhood Pharmacies Association of Canada (NPAC) that pharmacy, medicine and other health sectors would be contributing to budget deficit eradication through reductions of payments to health professionals.
It was later announced in the 2015 budget that pharmacy funding reductions were expected to deliver $150 million per year and that the savings from these reductions would be guaranteed. The simplest process for the government to accomplish this would have been for an across-the-board dispensing fee reduction of about $1.00 for the approximately 150 million annual ODB claims.
With the direction of the OPA Board and through its advocacy efforts via a senior level Ministry/OPA/NPAC consultation process (called the ‘Implementation Table’), a broad-based fee reduction was averted and four alternative mechanisms were put in place in October 2015 to deliver the $150 million in targeted savings.
The aforementioned Implementation Table meets on a quarterly basis, with the next meeting scheduled for August 15. At this moment, communications on the deliberations have been blocked by a legal and binding non-disclosure agreement (NDA) put in place by the government, and OPA is working to enable more information sharing with members by having this NDA revoked or significantly amended.