Public representation is vital to the College Board’s ability to function, and to make decisions that reflect the public’s best interests. The College Board relies on its public members to bring unique and valuable insights and oversight in order to help us maintain a well-rounded, comprehensive decision-making process.
Public members are appointed by the Minister of Health and, as required by the Health Professions Act, must not comprise less than one-third of the total Board membership.
As public members of the Board of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, we represent the perspective of all British Columbians in the governance of pharmacy practice in BC.
2020 was a difficult year for people around the world, and British Columbia was no different. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic, and since then, all of our lives have been upended as we continue to respond to this public health emergency.
The onset of COVID-19 presented a number of significant challenges for pharmacy regulation in BC. Pharmacy professionals were asked to adapt to constant, ongoing practice changes in order to provide continuity of care for British Columbians, in addition to dealing with the stresses of potential exposure within their pharmacies.
As a College, our focus was on ensuring ethical and quality pharmacy care continued to be available for all British Columbians. As a Board, we carefully considered and approved changes that brought broader flexibility in how pharmacy care could be provided in response to this crisis without compromising safety.
The COVID-19 pandemic also compounded and escalated BC’s existing opioid overdose crisis, requiring us to think of new ways to support British Columbians with substance use disorders. To that end, we introduced new delivery requirements for Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT), as well as temporary authorizations for OAT delivery by non-pharmacists. This was done to ensure continuity of care for patients with substance use disorders by maintaining access to OAT in situations where they may be self-isolating or otherwise immobile.
Beyond living within the context of dual public health emergencies, the past year shed additional light on the extent to which racism and discrimination is experienced by Black, Indigenous, Asian and other racialized communities in our society and within our health system. As representatives of the public, we were encouraged by the work done by both the College Board and staff in calling out racism for what it is and working to ensure that BIPOC communities in our province are supported when accessing healthcare services.
Notably, we are pleased with the work being done, alongside Indigenous leaders and our fellow health regulators, to put into practice, the recommendations put forth by Dr. Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) in her ‘In Plain Sight’ Report on Indigenous-specific racism in B.C. health care. We are also pleased with the establishment of a Black Lives Matter Working Group within the College focused on identifying ways that the College can actively combat the racism faced by Black People in BC.
Finally, we’d like to acknowledge the work being done by the Patient Advisory Network of BC (BC-PAN). BC-PAN’s 16 public advisors continue to work with the College and other health regulators to provide valuable perspectives and voices to health regulation in BC, and we look forward to continuing to engage with them in the coming fiscal year. We’d also like to recognize those members of the public, as well as registrants and other stakeholders who provided responses to both our Website Engagement Survey, and our Customer Satisfaction Survey.
Your feedback and diverse opinions continue to be an invaluable resource, enabling us to strengthen our relationship with British Columbians in order to continue to improve the ways in which we deliver professional and ethical care. And this relationship remains at the core of our mandate to protect the public through the regulation of pharmacy practice in BC.
Though 2020 presented us with a number of new challenges, with its long history as a leader in Canadian health regulation, the College is well-positioned to continue to improve health, safety, and equity for all British Columbians through excellence in pharmacy practice.
As the current public representatives, we are honored to share this ambition with, and be a part of, such a progressive, dedicated and focused Board.
|Justin Singh Thind