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Shoppers Drug Mart says it plans to open 44 new pharmacy care clinics in Alberta this year. The logo for Shoppers Drug Mart is shown in downtown Toronto, on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo LimaEduardo Lima/The Canadian Press

The Alberta government says the expansion of pharmacy care clinics across the province could help reduce the strain on the province’s emergency departments and family doctors.

Shoppers Drug Mart says it plans to open 44 new pharmacy care clinics across Alberta this year, bringing the total operating in the province to 103.

The clinics, located in the store’s pharmacies, provide access to a range of pharmacy health-care services, including assessment and treatment of colds, pink eye and urinary tract infections.

Pharmacists have been given the ability in Alberta to assess patients and prescribe medications for minor illnesses and injuries, administer vaccines and other medications by injection, and help with chronic disease management.

Similar clinics are already operating in a limited number of pharmacies in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange says she’s excited that Shoppers Drug Mart has decided to open additional pharmacy care clinics across the province.

“This significant investment of $77 million will profoundly impact our province, ensuring greater access to primary care for Albertans and further strengthening our health-care system,” she told a news conference in Edmonton on Thursday.

“This commitment by Shoppers Drug Mart to invest in primary care in Alberta’s communities aligns with our government’s ongoing efforts to refocus the health-care system.”

LaGrange said the pharmacy care clinics could help to reduce stress on hospitals and doctor’s offices.

“Anyone who can come to a clinic would otherwise perhaps go to one of our hospitals and we know that they are strained at this point in time,” she said. “Also, it relieves pressures on family physicians.

“We want to make sure primary care is working together.”

Shoppers Drug Mart opened its first pharmacy care clinic in Lethbridge, Alta., in June 2022.

Shoppers Drug Mart is owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd.

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