A pharmacist may be required to report to a health authority if they have a reasonable belief that a patient is a danger to themselves or others, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.
The Canadian Human Right Tribunal said it had asked the province to reconsider a ban on pharmacists reporting to health authorities after the province said it would not implement an exemption.
The tribunal ruled Tuesday that Ontario’s ban on pharmacist reporting to a doctor’s office, the only state in Canada to do so, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The ban is contrary to the Charter, the [court] has said,” Justice Margaret McLachlin said in her ruling.
“I am satisfied that it violates the rights of Ontario pharmacists who, because of a reasonable medical belief that they are in danger, may act as physicians in their practice,” McLachlen said.
The court ordered that Ontario implement an exception to the ban, which would require pharmacists to report if they believe they are a danger, or have reason to believe that a person they know is a risk to themselves, their partner, or others.
The ban, passed by Ontario’s Liberal government in 2015, came into effect in March.
Ontario Health Minister Karen Casey and the province’s public health director, David Smith, have said the ban is aimed at protecting the health of patients, their families and the public from the “dangerous, untreatable” side effects of prescription drugs.
The government is appealing the decision.
In the ruling, McLachler said the province should not rely on the Charter to justify a ban that the tribunal said “seems to be directed at pharmacists as pharmacists and not at the medical professionals themselves.”
The tribunal also said Ontario should consider the harm to health of pharmacists if the ban were to be repealed.
In its ruling, the tribunal noted that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the pharmacists’ report should be treated as a “public health emergency.”
“This is especially true if it is reported to the public health authority,” McLaklin wrote.
Ontyc’s ban has prompted widespread concern.
In June, a pharmacist in Calgary was charged after a patient died following a treatment with an antibiotic and the drug was withheld.
A pharmacy in Winnipeg was shut down after a pharmacy employee was accused of writing the wrong prescriptions for a patient.