See a pharmacist for minor ailments and contraceptives (

Media Contacts

Ministry of Health

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What people are saying about scope of practice expansion for pharmacists

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health –

“The expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice in British Columbia is a significant step toward improving health-care access for residents, especially in rural and remote areas. By providing pharmacists with the ability to prescribe medications for minor ailments and other common health concerns, we are reducing the burden on small doctors’ offices in rural communities and helping more people get the medications they need faster.”

Harwinder Sandhu, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care –

“Pharmacists and their teams are a great resource and wealth of knowledge with their expertise and education, and our government is taking every step to find new ways to strengthen our primary health-care network, including letting health-care experts use their knowledge and expertise to help. The ability to get prescriptions for many common health concerns from the local pharmacy and being able to make appointments both online or in person will make it easier and faster to get the medications people need and make a real difference in their lives.”

Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity –

“This announcement is another step forward to better help people get the health care they need. It builds on the universal coverage of prescription contraceptives that was announced earlier, as now people will have an even easier way to take charge of their reproductive health.”

Vincent Yeung, pharmacist and owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart –

“I’m thrilled that B.C. pharmacists will now be able to tap into their full potential by offering minor ailment care to patients. My team and I are frequently asked to assess and prescribe for minor conditions, and today’s announcement means we will be able to offer patients the care they need right in the pharmacy.”

What’s included in minor ailments

As of June 1, 2023, pharmacists can offer prescriptions for the following minor ailments:

  • mild acne
  • allergies (allergic rhinitis)
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • skin rash (dermatitis)
  • menstrual pain
  • indigestion (upset stomach)
  • heartburn (acid reflux)
  • fungal infections of the skin and nails
  • headaches
  • hemorrhoids
  • cold sores
  • impetigo
  • canker sores (oral ulcers)
  • oral thrush
  • strains and sprains (musculoskeletal pain)
  • nicotine dependence
  • shingles
  • threadworms or pinworms
  • uncomplicated urinary tract infection
  • hives or itching skin, including from bug bites
  • vaginal yeast infection (candidiasis)
How people can seek health care from a pharmacist

Starting June 1, 2023:

  • People can determine if seeing a pharmacist is right for their ailment or if they should see a primary-care provider by using a self-assessment tool:
  • If they are seeking care for a minor ailment or for prescription contraception, they can visit a pharmacy or call the pharmacy to book an appointment.
  • A pharmacist will make sure the person is eligible, obtain informed consent, perform the assessment and then offer a treatment option.
  • This may include advice for self-care, over-the-counter product(s), a prescription for medication, or directions to seek help from another health-care provider.

Starting June 29, 2023, people can also book their appointment online:

  • The online booking system will be similar to the Get Vaccinated system that people used to book COVID-19 and influenza vaccination appointments.
  • People can locate pharmacies that offer the service they need, be referred to a self-assessment guide to make sure the service is suitable for them, then proceed to book an appointment with the pharmacy of their choice.

Should a pharmacist determine that a patient requires care they cannot provide, the pharmacist will advise the patient to see another health-care provider, such as a doctor or nurse practitioner. Determining factors may include:

  • if the patient’s symptoms are deemed to be non-minor;
  • if there are other concerns warranting further exam by a doctor or nurse practitioner; or
  • if the patient requires medications not included in the list of drug categories.

The pharmacists’ assessment service is fully covered by PharmaCare as long as the patient is eligible and the service is provided in-person. The service is covered for all B.C. residents with a Personal Health Number. Any associated drug costs and dispensing fees related to a patients’ prescription may be covered by the patient’s PharmaCare coverage or their private insurance.

Increasing and improving access to health care

The scope expansion for pharmacists to prescribe medications for minor ailments and prescription contraception is part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy. The strategy, announced on Sept. 29, 2022, ensures people get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. The strategy focuses on 70 actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.

As part of the strategy, the Province is:

  • implementing a new family doctor payment model to help more family doctors start or continue their practice and ensure people throughout the province have access to primary care;
  • continuing to offer a new-to-practice incentives program to encourage new Canadian and international medical graduates to practice family medicine by providing additional payment for overhead and offering a signing bonus and medical education debt reduction grant;
  • expanding the supply of doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health-care providers through additional post-secondary training seats;
  • building a second medical school in Surrey;
  • making it easier for internationally educated nurses to work in B.C. with new financial supports and a more efficient assessment pathway;
  • creating more pathways for international medical graduates to work in priority primary-care networks and rural communities after gaining licensure;
  • working on a new digitally enabled attachment system that will support connection between patients seeking attachment to a health-care provider and providers available to attach new patients, and for the Province to better measure progress in meeting attachment needs;
  • implementing a new, first-in-Canada nurse-to-patient staffing model, which will allow nurses to spend more time with the people they care for and provide better, more person-focused services;
  • further supporting nurses in accessing training and career development opportunities, as well as support for well-being and day-to-day operations;
  • offering incentives for health-care workers to live and work in rural or remote areas;
  • establishing two more cancer centres in Nanaimo and in Kamloops, so that people who need cancer treatment do not have to travel as far to receive care;
  • improving access and health equity for rural, remote and First Nations communities, including through the Travel Assistance Program, which helps cover the travel costs for eligible patients to reduce the financial burden of travel;
  • supporting maternity and pregnancy care to help expecting parents undergo pregnancy and give birth closer to home near their loved ones; and
  • establishing virtual health services, such as the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day, Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Services, and Northern Health Virtual Primary and Community Care Clinic, which provide patients with virtual access to primary and community health-care services.

The Province also continues to expand team-based health care throughout B.C. by opening 32 urgent and primary care centres, opening community health centres, establishing more than 60 primary-care networks and announcing three First Nations primary-care centres, with more to come.