Consumers Drug Mart faces proposed class motion for alleged ‘unethical company practices’

A former Consumers Drug Mart franchise proprietor has filed a proposed class motion lawsuit in opposition to the Canadian retail pharmacy chain, and its mum or dad firm Loblaw, alleging the businesses imposed “unsafe and unethical” company practices on franchise proprietor pharmacists to extend earnings.

The declare was filed in Ontario Superior Courtroom final week and intends to cowl each franchise house owners whose agreements have been terminated since 2014 and present franchise house owners in Ontario. 

It has not but been licensed or examined in court docket.

The crux of the lawsuit issues how company practices like imposing targets on the quantity of remedy opinions, slicing again assist workers hours, and different mandates to extend income, have allegedly put Consumers Drug Mart franchise house owners, who’re additionally pharmacists, in an “irredeemable battle of curiosity.” 

“Once you put insurance policies on the affiliate proprietor that require [them] to breach their skilled obligations on the threat of shedding their franchise … you place them in a battle of curiosity between their obligations to sufferers and their obligations to the enterprise,” stated lawyer Aly Haji, from Ricketts Harris legislation agency, which filed the proposed class motion.

The implications of that battle may embrace a pharmacist having their licence suspended or revoked, in accordance with the lawsuit.

WATCH | Consumers Drug Mart faces proposed class motion lawsuit:

Consumers pharmacy house owners launch class-action lawsuit

Proposed class-action lawsuit alleges the Consumers Drug Mart imposed unsafe and unethical company practices on pharmacy house owners to extend earnings. CBC’s Angelina King studies.

‘Case has no benefit’: Loblaw

Loblaw and Consumers Drug Mart haven’t but filed statements of defence within the case. However in an e-mail assertion, Loblaw spokesperson Dave Bauer informed CBC Information “this case has no benefit in any respect, and we intend to vigorously defend it.”

The lawsuit was filed within the wake of a CBC Information investigation, which revealed how some former Consumers Drug Mart pharmacy staff imagine the corporate is making the most of Ontario’s remedy opinions program, MedsCheck, by pushing workers to invoice the federal government for consultations sufferers do not essentially want. 

And the way regardless of the chain’s president denying the existence of targets for these companies, dozens of inside information from annoyed pharmacists confirmed the chain has targets for these skilled companies and company administration pressured house owners to fulfill these numbers.

A Shoppers Drug Mart location is pictured at the intersection of on King & Peter streets in downtown Toronto. People wearing winter clothing are walking on the sidewalk in front of the store.
A spokesperson for Loblaw, Consumers Drug Mart’s mum or dad firm, informed CBC Information in an announcement that the “case has no benefit in any respect, and we intend to vigorously defend it.” (Michael Wilson/CBC)

The Ontario Faculty of Pharmacists has since stated it is working with a authorized workforce to discover its choices after 1000’s of pharmacy staff got here ahead to share “deeply troubling” tales about company strain to carry out these billable companies.

Former proprietor ‘distraught’ when franchise was revoked

Within the case of former franchise house owners just like the lead plaintiff, Sivajanan Sivapalan, the declare alleges he and others had their franchises revoked, or not renewed, for criticizing the allegedly unethical practices. 

In keeping with the court docket submitting, Consumers knowledgeable Sivapalan that his franchise in Beamsville, Ont. had been terminated in January 2023. Consumers didn’t present Sivapalan any causes for its choice.

“He was distraught when this occurred. It was a really tough time in his life,” stated Haji about his shopper. 

“[Sivapalan] simply wished to hunt justice and see redress for the ache and the form of difficulties that many associates are going via.” 

WATCH | Pharmacy house owners communicate out: 

Extra pharmacists name out Consumers for ‘unethical’ medical service targets

Dozens of present and former Consumers Drug Mart house owners and pharmacists say company administration pressured them to fulfill ‘unethical’ targets for pointless medical companies. Emails and inside information from Consumers offered to CBC Information again up this declare.

For the proposed class of present franchise house owners, the lawsuit alleges company practices, like remedy evaluate targets, intrude with their means to make use of their skilled judgment as pharmacists and to take care of sufferers safely and successfully. 

“Consumers Drug Mart has taken no motion to handle the clear dangers posed by the Company Practices to affected person security, the ensuing breach of Franchisees’ skilled and moral obligations, and the ensuing threat of regulatory scrutiny and sanction by the Ontario Faculty of Pharmacists,” reads the declare.

“As an alternative, Consumers Drug Mart has extra aggressively applied the Company Practices to maximise earnings.”

A Consumers Drug Mart spokesperson beforehand informed CBC Information the choice to ship an expert service, like a medicine evaluate, have to be made by a pharmacist utilizing their judgment.

“Our position is to help affiliate house owners and their pharmacy groups to ship these companies. That features working with the associates on a yearly plan that’s particular to the pharmacy’s distinctive scenario and affected person wants in the neighborhood,” stated the earlier assertion from spokesperson Catherine Thomas.

In apply, the lawsuit alleges the pharmacy chain is appearing in a means that defeats the aim of its franchise agreements as a result of if a pharmacy proprietor faces sanctions from the provincial regulator, because of company practices, it will give Consumers grounds to terminate its franchise settlement with that franchise proprietor.

Because of this, the proposed class motion is searching for the court docket to find out that Consumers breached its franchise agreements with the category and to award damages for these alleged breaches.

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