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Sask.'s shortage of pharmacists resulting in reduced hours at drug stores

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It’s becoming more difficult to find a pharmacy that is open late in Regina and a shortage of pharmacists and expanded duties has resulted in some drug stores cutting hours even more.

At one Regina Shoppers Drug Mart the sign that reads open late has been taken out of the window, the store says there are not enough pharmacists to maintain expanded hours.

“There’s just not enough people around to run the full complement of hours so a lot of them shut down earlier hours and it’s just basically reduced hours right across the board and through all the various companies as far as that’s concerned,” pharmacy owner George Furneaux said.

Additional staff are also needed as an overburdened health care system relies on pharmacies to do more.

“There’s lots of different opportunities for pharmacists to be able to now be able to help people out so that they don’t have to rely so much on their local physician or emergencies or the medical clinics after hours,” Furneaux said.

The Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan believes every major pharmacy group in the province is recruiting. They don’t have precise numbers but say it’s especially difficult to hire in rural areas.

“We certainly work with pharmacists to promote and we work with the province hoping for incentives to bring peoples to rural Saskatchewan to start there and nationally we speak with our national counterpart about how we attract international students to come here as well,” Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan CEO Michael Fougere said.

Kiran Sarkaria is a recent pharmacy grad from the University of Saskatchewan. She posted her resume on Indeed and reached out to Shoppers in Regina where she now works.

“And immediately I was getting a lot of different calls as soon as my resume went up,” Sarkaria said. “A lot of people were reaching out to me in emails or phone calls, lots of people wanted me to just come in and just chat, show me their pharmacy,” she added.

The shortage is drawing interest from foreign trained pharmacists who wish to relocate to Canada but the process isn’t easy. It can take two to three years of additional training to meet Canadian licensing requirements.

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