Ontario residents can now visit their local pharmacist to assess and prescribe medication for some minor conditions, lessening the burden on emergency departments and doctors.

The Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) says that as of now its members can assess medication to treat 13 minor ailments, including pink eye, eczema and urinary tract infections. 

Until now, patients have had to visit their primary care provider, walk-in clinic, or a local hospital to treat minor ailments. 

Now Ontario patients can simply call their local pharmacy to make an appointment or go to their nearest pharmacy during regular hours and speak to their pharmacist. Patients must present a valid Ontario health card to access this publicly funded service provided by the Government of Ontario. Patients are not required to pay a fee. 

"Empowering pharmacists to use their expertise to assess and treat minor ailments helps patients get the care they need sooner and closer to home – but the benefits go much further," said Justin Bates, CEO of the OPA. "It reduces demand on hospitals, emergency departments, walk-in clinics, and family physicians. It also frees up time for our healthcare partners, allowing doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to focus on more complex care cases."