As operational costs for businesses have risen over the past several years, NLPB has been working hard to ensure it carries out its regulatory responsibilities in a cost-efficient manner, exploring cost-saving opportunities wherever possible. Inflation, pressures on the provincial healthcare system, and the broadening scope of practice of pharmacy professionals have all had workload and financial implications for NLPB as we continue our work to ensure the public have access to safe and quality pharmacy care. As a result, NLPB has operated with a deficit budget for the past two years and drawn on its limited reserves; for 2023, the budget forecasts a deficit of 15%. Furthermore, both legal and operating reserve funds are currently significantly below target as per NLPB’s reserve fund policy.
As is typical of a self-regulated profession, NLPB’s operations and strategic initiatives are funded almost entirely through registration and licensing fees, as is required by the Pharmacy Act, 2012. These fees must be set at a rate that ensures NLPB can accomplish its legislative requirements as well as achieve related strategic goals and objectives in the years to come. It is also NLPB’s responsibility to ensure that all financial and human resources are being used effectively and efficiently. When preparing the annual budget each year for the past two years, the board conducted a detailed cost-savings analysis to determine if all current operational costs are necessary and ascertain whether the board could sustain increasing costs without increasing fees. In fall 2022, the board asked the Finance and Audit Committee to conduct a thorough review of both the schedule of fees and the current operational costs and report back with a recommendation. In conducting this review, the committee also consulted financial advisors to ensure all avenues for financial stability were explored. Through this review process, it was determined that the current situation is not sustainable.
In 2018, the board approved an annual adjustment to the schedule of fees based on the Cost-of-Living Allowance, now referred to as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This annual adjustment has been applied since that time, except for the 2021 Schedule of Fees, as the board recognized the financial burden on pharmacy professionals resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and NLPB had also experienced a reduction in operational costs due to the inability to travel and conduct practice site assessments.
The board only considers additional fee adjustments when it is necessary for NLPB to remain financially sustainable, while continuing to meet its legislative requirements. Although the CPI adjustment is in place, it accounts for inflation only. After careful analysis, the board has determined that an additional fee adjustment is necessary to reduce the current deficit, ensure regulatory duties continue to be met, and to support the strategic goals that will be set out in the 2023-2026 strategic plan. However, we are cognizant of the impact of inflation on everyone in the province, including pharmacy professionals, and have taken that into consideration when planning for this fee adjustment. As such, the board has approved a graduated fee increase of CPI + 5% for the next three years, starting with the 2024 Schedule of Fees. The fee increase has been distributed over a three-year period to give pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners time to plan their budgets.
The fee increases for 2024 will translate to an additional $132.82 for pharmacists, $88.45 for pharmacy technicians, and $254.34 for community pharmacies (including taxes).
With the increase for 2024, NLPB will continue to be below both the national and Atlantic maximum registration and licensing fees of pharmacy regulators with applicable taxes included, despite the province having one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. Below is a comparison between NLPB’s approved 2024 fees and the published 2023 fees in other provinces (note that current CPI rates may have not yet been applied to other regulators’ fees). Several other provincial pharmacy regulators are in a similar position to NLPB and have also recently approved or are considering fee increases in response to rising inflation, legislative changes, and healthcare reform.
|Pharmacist Annual Registration||$1258.40||$1340.90||$1132.75||$1100.00||$1384.30||$951.63||$1020.54||$1573.95||$991.20||$1021.65|
|Pharmacy Technician Annual Registration||$838.04||$853.30||$598.00||$500.00||N/A||$634.44||$157.50||$945.00||$585.90||$681.45|
|Community Pharmacy Licence||$2409.70||$2610.50||$1523.75||$1500.00||N/A||$1490.87||$1830.57||$3675.00||$1802.85||$3130.05|
Note: Fees include applicable taxes
Transparency is one of NLPB’s core values, so NLPB will be providing more information regarding the operational and strategic activities that your fees support and how your fees are distributed in the coming weeks.
While we understand this communication is difficult to receive, we want to assure you that the board appreciates that pharmacy professionals are working hard to provide the best possible care to patients and are facing unprecedented workload pressures due to increasing healthcare needs and a challenged health system. Many of our board members experience this first-hand in their own practices. Recognizing the pressures the profession is facing, NLPB is currently developing strategic goals that will focus on working with pharmacy professionals to address challenges in practice environments and enable full scope of practice. The 2023-2026 strategic plan, which outlines these goals, will be released in the coming months.
In the meantime, should you have any questions or would like further clarifications please contact email@example.com. NLPB will be compiling questions and providing responses in an FAQ in the next issue of The Apothecary to address your questions and concerns.
On behalf of the board of directors,
Taggarty Norris, Chair
Noelle Patten, Registrar & CEO