Project Logo

Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
Legal Commentary

Re: Draft Code of Ethics for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians

Ontario College of Pharmacists (DRAFT 3, March 22, 2005)

Project Letter to Minister of Health (Ontario)

19 September, 2005 (By Fax)

Mr. George Smitherman,
Minister of Health and Long Term Care,
80 Grosvenor St, 10th Flr, Hepburn Block
Toronto ON M7A 2C4

Dear Mr. Smitherman:

I am writing to you as the Minister responsible for the Ontario Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council ("HPRAC") because I have not received an answer to an e-mail sent on to Karen Lane, HPRAC Consultation Co-ordinator. The text of the message to Ms. Lane follows:

I understand that the Ontario College of Pharmacists has made a recommendation to the OHPRAC to the effect that freedom of conscience ought to be denied to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. I am advised by concerned pharmacists that those who would have objected to this were unaware that the College was contemplating such a recommendation and were not consulted about it. Similarly, it does not appear that groups representing the interests of religious believers who might be adversely impacted by the adoption of such a recommendation were notified. Certainly, the Project, which has corresponded with the College in the past on the subject, was unaware that the College had taken such a drastic step.

The College cannot have been unaware that this is a most controversial subject. The manner in which it has proceeded is most unfortunate and invites an adverse inference to be drawn with respect to its attitude toward freedom of conscience and religion.

I understand that the deadline for responses to the College's submission has passed. However, I am writing to determine whether or not an extension will be given to permit submissions from those hitherto denied a voice in the proceedings. This would, at least, redress the failure of the College of Pharmacists to consult with those whose fundamental freedoms have been jeopardized by its recommendation

If you do not have the authority to authorize an extension, please provide me with the contact information for the appropriate Deputy Minister or Minister who would have such authority.

What is at issue here is a draft code of ethics for Ontario's pharmacists that would authorize persecution of any pharmacist who refuses to dispense drugs for reasons of conscience. You can obtain further information about this proposal at []*

It is now the eve of the meeting of the last of a series of invitation-only "focus groups." I am disturbed that your Ministry is seeking the endorsement of anonymous, invitation-only "focus groups" to abrogate a fundamental freedom recognized by the Charter of Rights. I am also troubled that representatives of conscientious objectors were excluded from the process that produced the controversial draft.

I request that you authorize an extension of the time permitted for the making of submissions to the end of December, 2005, so that the Project and other interested parties may investigate and respond to the proposal from the Ontario College of Pharmacists.


Sean Murphy,

cc: Mr. John Tory, MLA

*Link updated 2012-11-01

Print Friendly and PDF