Courtesy of Anne Davidson, Virden Empire-Advance
MediSystem Pharmacy, a national company owned by Shoppers Drug Mart and its parent company Loblaw, recently secured a deal with five Manitoba regional health authorities (including Prairie Mountain Health) to provide pharmaceuticals to 102 care homes.
The deal, which kicks in April 1, effectively locks out the majority of local drug stores across the province.
Jim and Jennifer Whyte are the owners of Virden Drugs, formerly Martin’s Pharmacy, which opened on King Street East almost a year ago and Reston Drugs in Reston.
Their company lost all three of its care home clients: Sherwood Home in Virden, Elkwood Manor in Elkhorn, and Willowview in Reston. He says it’s a clear case of government versus small business.
“It is obvious that the government has taken that money out of the hands of small business in Manitoba and our economy and shipped it off elsewhere,” he said. “It will mean significantly less jobs for the Manitoba economy.”
Whyte hopes to develop new revenue streams at his Virden store to maintain current staffing.
They are concerned about the acute care pharmaceuticals they deliver on short notice to personal care homes.
Whyte believes his store has lost potential resale value due to the loss of the personal care home contracts, which was factored into the price he paid for Martin’s Pharmacy.
“The lessons I have been learning through my young business career is to avoid any and all business relationships with the government that we possibly can.”
Manitoba Opposition Leader Wab Kinew wrote an open letter protesting the decision to take business away from local providers.
Liberal leader Dougald Lamont also weighed in, saying, “The Pallister government is going out of its way to make some of the richest people in Canada even richer, while encouraging layoffs and making it harder for local businesses to compete.”
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson defended the move, saying in a statement, "Residents and their families are reassured that they will continue to receive the same services and will not be affected by this transition.”
She said the contract with MediSystem Pharmacy will ensure consistent services, standardized processes and a “significant cost savings for health care”.
If there is a silver lining to the situation, Whyte has found it in the reduction of hassles he has to deal with.
“I very much look forward to the opportunity to grow my business in other areas now that the government has freed up some of my time, personnel and space in my pharmacy.”