If you are interested in working as a Pharmacist in Canada, you will be pleased to know that the job outlook for your occupation in Canada is extremely positive.

You can use this overview of the Canadian employment prospects in your field to start planning your immigration and settlement in Canada.

Your employment prospects in Canada are excellent:

  • The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CphA) reports that there a national shortage of pharmacists in Canada.
  • While the number of pharmacies in Canada increased dramatically over the past decade, the number of graduates has remained relatively constant (contributing to increased demand).
  • In addition, the CphA identified that the increased drug requirements of Canada’s aging population, the increased recruitment by pharmaceutical and biotech companies and the increasing number of retail outlets offering pharmaceutical services (with many offering 24-hour prescription services) are all factors that have lead to a significant growth in demand for Pharmacists throughout the country.
  • The majority of pharmacists work in the retail trade sector and the health care sector.
  • Pharmacists can be employed by drugstores, hospitals and pharmaceutical firms. Some pharmacists are self employed and own their own pharmacy.
  • At least one pharmacist is required in a pharmacy setting in order to supervise dispensing and provide clinical care to patients.
  • Traditional duties are changing and pharmacists are now playing a much larger role in patient counseling. Pharmacists are also increasingly being recognized as drug experts.
  • Pharmacists benefit from job security and stability and the availability of jobs across the country.
  • The growing emphasis on preventive health services is affecting the role of pharmacists, who can find themselves working as consultants or teachers in preventive health care often providing advice directly to the public on the potential side-effects of medications, complications from allergic reactions and medication interactions.
  • The rapid development of new drugs for treatment and diagnosis means that pharmacists must update their knowledge continuously.
  • In addition, employers look for strong organizational, communication and dispensing leadership skills.
  • Since amendments were made to the Pharmacy Act in fall 2008, pharmacists can renew existing prescriptions and prescribe new medications.

Some areas of Canada where your occupation is in demand:

Pharmacists are listed by the Canadian Government as one of the 29 high-demand occupations in Canada. While there is a shortage of Pharmacists across all of Canada, the following cities, regions and provinces listed below have a particularly high demand for this occupation.

British Columbia:

  • Employment prospects are good throughout the province. A significant number of jobs will result from new job creation, but there will also be many vacancies due to retirements.
  • Work is concentrated in the Lower Mainland-Southwest and Vancouver Island and Coast regions, as these regions have more hospitals and higher demands for pharmaceutical services.
  • According to the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, an increasing number of hospitals, especially in small centres, have reported long-term vacancies for pharmacists.
  • Estimated employment for Pharmacists in 2010 is 4240.
  • Projected new jobs between 2010 and 2015 is 1070, while new jobs due to retirements during the same period are estimated at 600.
Northern British Columbia
  • Prospects are considered to be good in this local region.
  • Potential employers include: Northern Health Authority, Reid's Prescriptions Ltd., and Pharmasave.
Vancouver and Lower Mainland Southwest, British Columbia
  • This local region offers excellent career prospects, with the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CphA) reporting a severe shortage of pharmacists.
  • Lower Mainland demand for pharmacists is in part the result of the growing needs of an older population and the extended hours of operation of both hospital and community pharmacies.
  • There is a whole new range of career opportunities in home care operations as well as in grocery stores, big-box retail stores, health management organizations, government and third party insurance payers. Pharmacists are also finding employment in the biotech, insurance and pharmaceutical industries (such as in research, marketing or sales).
Vancouver Island and Victoria, British Columbia
  • Employment prospects are good in these local areas.
  • This occupation offers excellent growth prospects for short term and long term opportunities.
Saskatchewan:
  • Employment prospects are good for pharmacists in the Regina area for the next few years.
  • Demand for Pharmacists is expected to continue due to the medication requirements of an aging population.
Alberta:
  • Prospects are considered to be good throughout the province.
  • With the increasing shortage of health professionals, and changes to Alberta health legislation, the capacity of pharmacists has and will continue to expand.
  • The overall average wage for pharmacists has been increasing over the last five years.
Athabasca, Grande Prairie, Peace River, Alberta
  • Employment prospects are good in these local areas.
  • Many pharmacists are expected to leave their positions due to retirement.
  • Potential employers include: Freson Market Ltd., London Drugs Ltd., McLennan IDA Pharmacy and Peace Country Health.
Calgary, Banff, Jasper, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
  • Prospects are good in these local areas.
  • Potential employers include: Bethany Care Society Human Resources, Carewest and Wellness Pharmacy.
Edmonton, Alberta
  • Employment prospects are good.
  • Potential employers include: Alberta Health Services, Castledowns Drug Centre, Hewes Way Pharmacy, HSP Health Source Pharmacy, Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, and St. Michaels Health Group.
Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, Alberta
  • Employment prospects are good in these local areas.
Red Deer, Alberta
  • Employment prospects are good in this local area.
  • Potential employers include: David Thompson Health Region and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Manitoba:
  • Employment prospects for pharmacists are expected to be good in the period 2010 to 2014. There is currently a shortage of pharmacists in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada.
  • Employment in Manitoba in 2010 is estimated at 1,095.
  • A proportionally larger number of jobs for pharmacists are located in Winnipeg, with the majority working in the Retail Trade sector (80%), followed by Health Care and Social Assistance (20%).
  • For those working in the Health Care sector almost all work in a hospital setting. A small number are employed in nursing and residential care facilities.
Northern Manitoba
  • Employment prospects for pharmacists are good for the 2010 to 2011 period in Northern Manitoba as there is a shortage of pharmacists in the north. Some employers have had to limit their hours of service due to a shortage of pharmacists.
  • The drug requirements of an aging population, and the rapid development of new drugs, have increased the demand for qualified pharmacists.
Selkirk Area, Manitoba
  • The Selkirk area is experiencing a high demand for qualified pharmacists.
  • The majority of employment opportunities are found with larger retail outlets and in hospitals. The current shortage of pharmacists affects both the retail and institutional (hospital) sectors.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Winnipeg is experiencing a shortage of qualified pharmacists. The current shortage of pharmacists affects both the retail and institutional (hospital) sectors.
Nova Scotia:
  • The future employment outlook for Pharmacists in Nova Scotia is expected to be good over the next 5 years.
  • As the pharmacy trade has expanded to non-traditional areas, such as department stores and grocery stores, there are more opportunities throughout the province.
  • The local Atlantic Superstores, Sobeys, Zellers and Wal-Mart all currently have fully equipped pharmacies all of which have lead to a net increase in opportunities.
  • The medical community in Canada is moving towards giving pharmacists increased power of prescriptions. The Nova Scotia government approved changes to the regulations governing pharmacists on January 26, 2010.
  • The new regulations will authorize pharmacists to provide expanded services associated with drug therapy, and allow pharmacists to write and change prescriptions for minor ailments. It is hoped this will help relieve the huge demands on the health-care system, and it expands the role of the pharmacist even more.
  • All pharmacists practicing in Nova Scotia are members of The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia (PANS). For more information check out www.pans.ns.ca.
Annapolis Valley (Kings, Annapolis & West Hants), Nova Scotia
  • Employment prospects are good in this local area.
  • A current shortage with increasing excellent future opportunities has been identified by the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority (who has been offering signing bonuses & incentives for people to train into pharmacy).
  • As the pharmacy trade has expanded to non-traditional areas, such as department stores and grocery stores, there are more opportunities throughout the province.
Antigonish, Pictou, Guysborough, Nova Scotia
  • Currently the chances of Pharmacists finding employment are considered to be good in the local area.
  • Demand for pharmacists continues to be steady with opportunities at major retail stores, stand alone pharmacies and hospital pharmacies at both healthcare authorities, Pictou and Guysborough Antigonish Strait Regional.
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
  • Currently the chances of Pharmacists finding employment are considered to be good in the local area.
  • An ageing population continues to accelerate the demand for pharmacist services.
  • Pharmacies have expanded into grocery and department stores in recent years, complementing the existing storefront pharmacy stores in the area. This has created new jobs needed to be filled.
Colchester and Cumberland, Nova Scotia
  • Employment prospects are considered to be good in these local areas.
  • Existing employers are finding it difficult to recruit skilled pharmacists for full-time work or even to locate people to temporarily fill in during staff vacations.
Halifax and surrounding areas, Nova Scotia
  • Currently the chances of qualified Pharmacists finding employment are considered to be good in the local area.
  • It is expected that the demand for Pharmacists will remain strong as it is in many parts of the country due to the health requirements of an aging population, expanded roles for pharmacists, and the need to fill positions as workers retire.
  • The number of employers of pharmacists in the area has also risen over the years as the population continues to expand.
South Shore (Lunenburg & Queens Counties), Nova Scotia
  • Currently the chances of qualified Pharmacists finding employment are considered to be good in the local area.
  • The inclusion of full pharmacies in department stores and grocery stores has led to increased demand in the area.
Southwest Nova Scotia (Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Counties), Nova Scotia
  • Employment prospects are good in this local area.
New Brunswick:
  • Chances of finding employment are considered to be good across the province, with especially high demand in rural regions (most notably in primarily Francophone regions).
  • Most of the pharmacists in New Brunswick work in Retail Trade (76%).
Campbellton, Bathurst, Caraquet, Miramichi, New Brunswick
  • With a national shortage and an already small work force to draw on in the province, chances of finding employment in this occupation are excellent.
Fredericton, Woodstock, Grand Falls, Edmundston, New Brunswick
  • Currently the chances of Pharmacists finding employment are considered to be good in these local areas.
  • As the population ages, there will be a greater demand for prescriptions, in addition to positions left empty due to retirements, all adding to a high demand for Pharmacists.
Moncton, Shediac, Sackville, Richibucto, New Brunswick
  • Employment prospects are good in these local areas.
Saint John, Sussex, St. Stephen, New Brunswick
  • Currently the chances of Pharmacists finding employment are considered to be good in these local areas.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
  • Provincial prospects are considered to be good.
  • Employment is mainly within Retail (89%) with the remainder in Health/Social Assistance (11%).
  • Potential employers include but are not limited to: Theatre Pharmacy, Bonavista PharmaChoice, Burgeo Pharmacy, Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre, Baltimore Pharmacy, City Pharmacy, Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital, Central Pharmacy, Hillcrest Pharmacy, Labrador-Grenfell Regional Health Authority, Roddickton Pharmacy, St Mary’s Pharmacy, The Medicine Cabinet, Williams Drugs and Windsor Pharmacy.
Ontario:
  • Employment prospects are expected to be good over the period 2010 to 2013.
  • Demand for pharmacists has increased because of an ageing population in need of more prescription drugs.
Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula-Brantford Area, Ontario
  • Employment opportunities are very good in these local areas.
  • There is much more demand in this occupation than there is available labour. In addition, almost half of current pharmacists are now over the age of 45 years, and need to replace older workers as they retire, only increasing demand.
London-Woodstock Area, Ontario
  • Employment opportunities for Pharmacists are expected to be good for the next two years. Both hospitals and drug stores are finding it difficult to find qualified workers.
Northeastern Ontario
  • In the Northeastern Ontario area employment opportunities for pharmacists are expected to be good for the next few years. There is more demand in this occupation than there is available labour.
Ottawa region, Ontario
  • Employment opportunities for pharmacists in the Ottawa area will be good as many pharmacists will be retiring within the next decade. The 2006 census data indicates that almost 45 percent of pharmacists in the Ottawa area are 45 years of age or older.
Prince Edward Island:
  • Provincially, employment prospects for Pharmacists are considered to be good.
  • The increasing demand for prescription and replacement needs due to retirements will create additional employment opportunities for pharmacists.
  • Newly established pharmacies incorporated within major chain stores will continue to create additional demands for more pharmacists.
  • About 167 pharmacists are licensed to practice in P.E.I.
  • Most of the people employed in this occupation work on a year-round basis.

Duties for Pharmacists

Community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists compound and dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals and provide consultative services to both clients and health care providers. They are employed in community and hospital pharmacies, or they may be self-employed. Industrial pharmacists participate in the research, development, promotion and manufacture of pharmaceutical products. They are employed in pharmaceutical companies and government departments and agencies. 

Description of Main Duties:

Community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Check prescriptions for proper dosage
  • Compound prescribed pharmaceutical products by calculating, measuring and mixing the quantities of drugs and other ingredients required and filling appropriate containers with correct quantity
  • Dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals to customers or to other health care professionals and advise them on indications, contra-indications, adverse effects, drug interactions and dosage
  • Maintain medication profiles of customers including registry of poisons and narcotic and controlled drugs
  • Ensure proper preparation, packaging, distribution and storage of vaccines, serums, biologicals and other drugs and pharmaceuticals
  • Order and maintain stock of pharmaceutical supplies
  • Advise customers on selection and use of non-prescription medication
  • May supervise and co-ordinate the activities of other pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, pharmacy technicians and other staff.

Industrial pharmacists perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Participate in basic research for the development of new drugs
  • Formulate new drug products developed by medical researchers
  • Test new drug products for stability and to determine their absorption and elimination patterns
  • Co-ordinate clinical investigations of new drugs
  • Control the quality of drug products during production to ensure that they meet standards of potency, purity, uniformity, stability and safety
  • Develop information materials concerning the uses, properties and risks of particular drugs
  • Evaluate labelling, packaging and advertising of drug products
  • Promote pharmaceutical products to health professionals.

Example job titles for Pharmacists:

  • clinical pharmacist
  • community pharmacist
  • dispensary department supervisor – hospital
  • drug information pharmacist
  • druggist
  • health care institution pharmacist
  • hospital druggist
  • hospital pharmacist
  • industrial pharmacist
  • pharmacist
  • pharmacist – military
  • pharmacist consultant
  • registered pharmacist
  • retail pharmacist

Find out about salary ranges for Pharmacists in different Canadian cities with our Canada Salary Calculator.

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