The Government of Yukon is introducing permanent changes to what services pharmacists can choose to provide in the Yukon. These changes are similar to those that were introduced on a temporary basis under the COVID-19 State of Emergency.
Effective immediately, participating pharmacists licensed in the Yukon can now choose to:
- extend existing prescriptions on all prescription drugs, including controlled substances, up to a maximum of two times;
- extend or modify prescriptions for controlled substances such as methadone, when needed in emergency situations;
- transfer controlled substance prescriptions within and outside of the Yukon;
- accept a prescribers verbal order to extend or refill a prescription for controlled substances; and
- deliver, along with their delegates, controlled substances in accordance with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Each pharmacist can choose whether to offer these additional services. Yukoners should speak directly with their pharmacist to discuss which services they now offer.
In addition, the Government of Yukon is working to launch a permanent initial prescribing program for pharmacists. Once complete, participating and qualified pharmacists will also be able to prescribe for a limited list of minor ailments such as pinkeye, dermatitis, urinary tract infections, travel vaccines, smoking cessation and COVID-19. This program will include additional training and licensing requirements for pharmacists and is expected to launch in December 2022.
These changes will take better advantage of pharmacists’ clinical expertise and training and align with the services pharmacists provide in many other Canadian jurisdictions. This expanded practice for pharmacists will also help decrease pressures on the Yukon’s healthcare system.
The changes implemented under the COVID-19 State of Emergency that expanded the services pharmacists could offer proved to be safe and beneficial for Yukoners and the Yukon’s health-care system. By expanding these services permanently, we are aligning with other Canadian jurisdictions and better supporting Yukoners in accessing the critical medications and health services they need. I look forward to continuing to work to ensure pharmacists in our territory can even better utilize their full training and expertise to support the health and wellbeing of Yukoners.
Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn
The expanded services that pharmacists can now provide are not intended to replace visits to their family doctors or other initial prescribers. Wherever possible Yukoners should first see their family physician before going to a pharmacist to extend a prescription. If Yukoners do see their pharmacists to extend a prescription, they should also discuss what follow-up they need with that pharmacist or their primary care provider.
The Government of Yukon first temporarily expanded pharmacists scope of practice in May 2020 soon after declaring the territory’s first COVID-19 related State of Emergency. Similar measures were brought in again in February 2022.
The Yukon’s Pharmacists Regulation and standards of practice, as well as the Health Professions Act and federal regulations such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, dictate how pharmacists in the territory practice.
These permanent changes support recommendations in Putting People First, specifically recommendation 1.5, to implement a population health approach that considers the social determinants of health to reduce inequities and improve the health of the entire population. They also respond to the Substance Use Health Emergency declared in January by providing better access to a safe supply of opioids.