Latest Update - February 22
Following last Thursday’s website notice there has been a positive development with respect to PEBC’s request from the Ontario government. The government recognized that a supply of trained, licensed, certified and accredited health human resources are crucial health providers that are required to support the COVID-19 response, including vaccine rollout as well as to maintain health services to Ontarians. Our requests have resulted in an amendment to the provincial regulations which permits PEBC to administer its in-person, performance examinations under the current provincial reopening framework for the upcoming Pharmacist Qualifying Examination Part II (OSCE) that is scheduled for February 28th and PEBC’s subsequent performance examinations.
PEBC has emailed all candidates registered to take the February OSCE in Ontario to confirm that they will be taking the exam.
PEBC is grateful to the collaborative efforts of so many people who helped raise awareness of the importance of PEBC’s performance examinations in ensuring the competence of pharmacy professionals who are seeking to become registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who practice daily on the frontlines to provide high quality care to the public, during the pandemic and beyond it. PEBC would like to specifically acknowledge the following whose exceptional efforts resulted in this vital regulation change, the:
- Ontario Pharmacists Association and its strategic communications firm Enterprise Canada;
- Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto;
- University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy;
- Class representatives from the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo, as well as the students and pharmacists who participated in a letter-writing campaign to their local members of provincial parliament (MPP); and
- Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists – Ontario Branch
PEBC would also like to thank the provincial government for taking this important step to support PEBC’s role of assessing the qualifications and competence of candidates for licensing by pharmacy provincial regulatory authorities in the interest of public protection, as well as the MPPs from all political parties who elevated this matter for consideration.
Prior to the government’s amendments, PEBC and select exam centres focussed its work on making attempts to relocate some exam locations to regions where the conditions permitted the administration of the OSCE. Since the new amendments have been approved, PEBC has been working diligently over the weekend to ensure that the sites can administer the OSCE in accordance with the new regulations.
As PEBC moves forward in preparation for next weekend’s OSCE across the country, this work will continue with the tremendous support of the exam centre personnel, standardized patient teams and assessors. PEBC is also appreciative of the contributions made by all its partners and stakeholders, including the provincial regulatory authorities, pharmacy associations and schools of pharmacy.
PEBC recognizes that this has been a stressful time for candidates and is appreciative of their patience as we sought to navigate these unprecedented times. PEBC expects that candidates can continue to focus their energies on preparing for the OSCE and wishes them well on the upcoming exam.
PEBC is confirmed to be proceeding with the February 28th OSCE in the following locations:
Candidate information including the link to the online candidate orientation will be emailed to all candidates on Friday, February 19th.
February OSCE – Ontario
PEBC has been working tirelessly to seek out approvals from provincial officials including Ontario’s Minister of Health, Minister of Colleges and Universities and Chief Medical Officer of Health with the intent of allowing PEBC’s OSCE to be deemed an essential post-secondary assessment and to be treated as equivalent to an in-person examination conducted by a post-secondary institution for the purpose of the applicable regulations. After repeated attempts, including the most recent one to limit the approval to a single administration of the OSCE this February, PEBC has not received a response which would allow the OSCE to move forward to the extent it had planned across the province.
Based on the continued restrictions in most of the exam centre locations and the lack of response from the provincial government to PEBC’s requests, PEBC unfortunately cannot run as previously planned in some locations. PEBC is making attempts to relocate some exam locations where PEBC is unable to run to neighboring cities where the conditions are now more favorable.
While PEBC committed to providing a decision today, in the best interest of all candidates registered for the February OSCE, we will announce a definitive decision on Monday evening.
PEBC recognizes that this delay causes additional stress and uncertainty, however, PEBC felt that it was important to do what it could to find alternate solutions to minimize cancellations across the province. As PEBC is very busy trying to coordinate these alternate solutions, you are asked to patiently wait for an update and not email for a status update at this time.
Thank you to all Ontario candidates who completed the survey this week. We recognize the challenges in making last minute travel plans, however, to ensure fairness in the reallocation process, on Monday evening, PEBC will follow up with candidates who indicated a willingness to travel if there is a space available for them to be reallocated out of province.
PEBC appreciates your patience during this challenging time.
In follow-up to PEBC’s earlier email to candidates about the uncertainty of whether PEBC will be able to move forward with the February 28th OSCE in Ontario, an update is provided below with the status of the OSCE and what needs to occur for the OSCE to proceed.
To date, PEBC has been actively reaching out, directly and through its partners, with requests for clarification from Ontario’s Minister of Health, Minister of Colleges & Universities and Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding whether the OSCE can be classified as equivalent to an in-person examination conducted by a post-secondary institution for the purpose of the applicable regulations. This classification would allow the OSCE to proceed across the province with the capacity limits necessary to administer the OSCE. To this end, PEBC has sent a formal letter and briefing note indicating the urgent nature of the matter. PEBC requested a response by January 28th but, despite further follow-up, has received no response to date.
For the benefit of continued transparency, PEBC believes it is important to advise you, the candidates, with what you can expect to happen over the next few weeks. There are two pathways that would permit PEBC to move forward with the OSCE in February:
- PEBC receives confirmation that the OSCE will be treated as equivalent to in-person examinations conducted by post-secondary institutions for the purpose of the applicable regulations.
- If PEBC receives confirmation by February 17th, the February OSCE will proceed across the province.
- Otherwise, PEBC may be forced to cancel the OSCE unless the restrictions at the relevant local public health units are sufficiently loosened (see number 2. below).
- Restrictions in local public health units in Ottawa, Hamilton, Waterloo and/or London are loosened on February 9th.
- The current state of emergency in Ontario is set to expire on February 9th. At that time, PEBC expects the province to announce which level of restrictions the public health units move to, if at all.
- If the state of emergency is further extended (even if only by two weeks) or the local public health units move only to the Red (“Control”) level of the province’s prior COVID-19 Response Framework, PEBC may be forced to cancel the OSCE.
- If local public health units move to the Orange (“Restrict”) level, depending on local restrictions, PEBC may only be able to administer a single track of up to 40 candidates (with 20 candidates in each session) in each city. Those with the highest priority (based on the date of receipt of application) in each city will be able to take the OSCE and the remaining candidates will be moved to the May 2021 OSCE.
A decision will be announced on February 18th to confirm whether the February 2021 OSCE will proceed or not.
PEBC is continuing its efforts to receive a positive response from provincial officials. However, it is quite disappointed that there has been no response thus far.
PEBC is doing all that it can to move forward with the OSCE and appreciates your patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times.
Update on Virtual Performance Examinations
PEBC is in the process of exploring a virtual option for its performance examinations with the intent to conduct a pilot to evaluate the validity, reliability, and security of this delivery option. It is important for PEBC to set the appropriate expectations and confirm that a pilot will NOT be possible in time for the May OSCE. This is a significant undertaking that will be done in parallel while PEBC continues to work on its live, in-person, performance exams.