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Rocky Harbour woman recognized as Canada's pharmacist of the year –



Stephanie Burden was named 2021 Canadian Pharmacist of the Year, for her dedication to community involvement. (Submitted by Stephanie Burden)

A pharmacist who put out her shingle in Rocky Harbour five years ago has received national recognition for how her practice became a community health hub during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Stephanie Burden opened Complete Care Pharmasave in 2016 in Rocky Harbour, a coastal town surrounded by Gros Morne National Park.

In 2020 Burden was chosen as the province’s Bowl of Hygieia winner, an award which celebrates pharmacists who demonstrate community involvement.

Given her win, the Pharmacist Association of Newfoundland and Labrador put her name forward alongside 11 other candidates for the Canadian Pharmacist of the Year. ‘

“It’s just incredibly unbelievable winning the Canadian pharmacist of the year,” said Burden. “I really don’t have any other words to describe it, because I still feel like I’m pinching myself.”

For Burden, practising pharmacy in a rural setting is an opportunity to centralize the often nebulous elements of health care, reducing barriers by establishing her practice as what she called a health-care hub.

“In rural [areas] the pharmacy is often the common denominator across many different professions, and patients have that touch point of the pharmacy,” said Burden.

“It’s a familiar face when they come in: they know us, they wave, they say hello. We get to be the centre of care, and I really wanted to build on that as a practice, that health-care hub model.”

Burden said she wanted to be somewhere where patients could ask questions about their medications, but also discuss anxieties about upcoming appointments or questions about their health.

Videos made to help rural residents

For other medical professionals, Burden’s health-care hub is positioned to be a point of communication.

“Being able to be a point of reference for physicians and health-care providers and nurse practitioners, if they had a drug information question, or if they wanted to talk through the best next therapy for their patient,” said Burden. “I really felt that a community pharmacy could be the centre of that rural health-care system, and really help close up some of the gaps.”

Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, Burden launched a number of initiatives to try and maintain that close community connection, even when the precautions necessitated distance.

“I produced some videos, just in the pharmacy, helping patients remain calm and helping them understand COVID-19 from the rural perspective,” Burden said.

“A lot of the messaging that they’ve received is from across the country and across the world.”

Stephanie Burden’s business is based in Rocky Harbour, a popular draw for visitors because of its location in Gros Morne National Park. (Submitted by Kyle Howlett)

According to Burden, even if they’re providing services from six feet away, or over the phone, the dependability of pharmacists is central to the health of many across the province.

“Pharmacists on the front lines still provide an essential service to Canadians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “And sometimes that just means they were there and they were dependable, and that made all the difference.”

In addition to remaining available for her patients, Burden also spent much of the early pandemic assisting others in the medical community who needed a helping hand.

“Sanitizer was a very hot commodity among other PPE at the onset of the pandemic, so I decided that I would make hand sanitizer for the community, and also for a local medical clinic that needed it to stay open,” said Burden.

“That was definitely a highlight, something I didn’t really anticipate doing when I graduated pharmacy school.”

An exciting time to be a pharmacist

While Burden’s passion for her practice may have won her the industry’s accolades, her dedication to the profession and helping young pharmacists find their place within it, she said, has long been a driving force.

Burden said she always wanted to be someone that other pharmacists could look to for advice.

“I just wanted to be an open door for pharmacists as well, so that they could call me and I could talk through some stages that they may be at,” she said.

“I’ve probably already been there. I’ve been in business for five years; I’ve been on that roller coaster. I’ve seen the challenges and the opportunities.”

The business side of the industry can be especially challenging, said Burden.

“I really welcome any pharmacists that are interested in breaking into the world of pharmacy, and learning about the business of pharmacy—because that’s a whole other facet— to contact me, get in touch,” Burden said. “I would absolutely love to speak with you and talk through some of the wins and then some of the challenges.”

St John’s Morning Show8:08Canadian Pharmacist of the Year

Heath care provider, innovator and compassionate caregiver. We speak with the 2021 Canadian Pharmacist of the Year, Stephanie Burden. 8:08

Burden’s overall advice for aspiring pharmacists: It’s never going to be the right time, she said, but now is a good time to start.

“You’re never going to wake up one morning and feel completely ready to take on a new role, to start that business— it just doesn’t happen that way,” she said.

“But if you have something in your heart, if you see that there’s a better way to do things, if you have an innovative idea, really the time is now.

“I’m just so proud of the profession of pharmacy in this province and across the country,” said Burden. “It really is an exciting time to be in pharmacy, and I’m just in awe of all of the pharmacists out there that are showing up day-in and day-out.”

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Molson Coors’ JV Truss launches 6 pot-infused drinks in Canada



(Reuters) – Miller Lite beer-maker Molson Coors Beverage Co’s cannabis joint venture Truss Beverage Co on Wednesday launched six pot-infused beverages in Canada, as it hopes that summer demand will offset recent sales hits from COVID-19 lockdowns.

Coronavirus restrictions in major provinces including Ontario have forced weed stores to shut for extended periods, and are expected to hit cannabis companies’ results for the March quarter.

The summer season, which tends to represent peak demand for beverages, will be crucial for companies to undo the damage.

Truss, jointly run by Canadian pot producer Hexo Corp, launched five CBD-infused beverage brands in August last year and claims to have already won a 43% market share in the category in Canada. (

“Summer … is the biggest opportunity for the beverage category; it is the inflection point for consumers to try out our products,” Truss Beverage’s Chief Executive Scott Cooper told Reuters in an interview.

“Cannabis-infused beverages are still new and tend to be an impulsive purchase, so having the store open is important to the trial and awareness of the category,” he added.

Truss said its latest beverage line included watermelon, lemonade, sparkling tonic and honey green iced tea flavors, and are expected to be rolled out to retailers over the next few months.


(Reporting by Rithika Krishna and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Canadian retail titan W. Galen Weston dies at 80



(Corrects April 13 story to remove references to Primark in paragraph 3 and what had been paragraph 6, to reflect that Primark is actually owned by a different Weston family)

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) -W. Galen Weston, patriarch of one of Canada‘s wealthiest families and retail titan, has died at age 80, according to a statement by the family on Tuesday.

Weston was the third generation of his family to lead George Weston Limited, an already-prosperous retail empire founded by his grandfather, which he expanded significantly.

The family company, now run by his son, Galen Weston, owns Selfridges in the United Kingdom, as well as the Canadian grocery chain Loblaw Co Ltd, pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart, and real estate company Choice Properties.

Weston passed away peacefully at home after a long illness, the statement said.

He was born in Buckinghamshire, England, and moved to Dublin at 21 to escape a domineering father, the Irish Times reported in 2014, where he met his wife, Irish model Hilary Frayne. They married in 1966.

In the 1970s Weston returned to his family’s base of operations, Canada, to revive the family’s struggling Loblaws supermarket chain, and helped turn it into one of the largest food distributors in the country.

“In our business and in his life he built a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and joy,” Galen Weston, chairman and CEO of George Weston Ltd, said in a statement.

“The luxury retail industry has lost a great visionary,” Alannah Weston, Weston Sr.’s daughter and chairman of Selfridges Group, said.

The Weston family is among the wealthiest in Canada, with Forbes estimating their total wealth at $8.7 billion.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in VancouverEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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Canada’s migrant farmworkers remain at risk a year into pandemic



By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Pedro, a Mexican migrant worker, knew he had to leave the Ontario cannabis operation where he worked when so many of his coworkers caught COVID-19 that his employer began to house them in a 16-person bunk house alongside the uninfected.

Pedro moved in with friends in the nearby farming town of Leamington, Ontario, at the end of October. He asked to be identified under a pseudonym because he fears that speaking out will affect his chances of employment.

“I didn’t know where to go, where to get help. So I was left behind, hopeless,” he said, speaking through a translator. About a week later, Pedro landed another job, working with peppers in a greenhouse. Conditions are better, he said.

But he added: “To be honest, I don’t think all employers are taking precautions.”

Pedro is one of about 60,000 migrant farmworkers – many from Central America and the Caribbean – who come to Canada as part of an annual migration of people that ramps up in spring. They grow and harvest the country’s food supply and have continued to work in the midst of a pandemic.

They feed the country and are a crucial part of a C$68.8 billion ($54.8 billion) sector, making up about one-fifth of the country’s agricultural workforce, according to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

As the pandemic crippled travel last year, agricultural employers were unable to fill one-fifth of the temporary foreign worker positions they needed, costing Canadian farmers C$2.9 billion due to labour shortages, according to research commissioned by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council.

These workers are also uniquely at risk. They live and work in crowded settings, and language barriers coupled with precarious immigration status tied to their employment prevent them from speaking out about unsafe conditions.

Last year they were hit hard by COVID-19, with 8.7% of migrants in Ontario testing positive. This year they are returning as Canada is in the grip of a third wave. While governments and employers say they are taking steps to keep these workers safe, advocates and workers contacted by Reuters say the dangers remain – except that now, those dangers are known.

Graphic on COVID-19 global tracker:


Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, argues the same factors that made workers more vulnerable to COVID-19 last year – crowded workplaces, congregate living, visas that tie them to an employer and make them fearful of speaking out – still exist.

“We are walking into the same crisis yet again, the only difference being that we already know how bad it is.”

Keith Currie, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said employers are doing their best, but some transmission of the virus will occur.

“Because they’re living on the farm, they’re in contact with each other when they’re working … despite all our efforts, it spreads. Just like it does elsewhere in society.”

Some 760 farmworkers have been infected so far this year in Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, according to provincial data. Ontario put agriculture workers in Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccinations, which begins this month, and has set up a clinic at Toronto’s airport offering vaccines to migrants on arrival.

But advocates worry migrant workers might lack requisite identification, especially if they are undocumented.

Advocates argue not enough is being done to keep these workers safe from the pandemic. They say rules such as the requirement to get – and pay for – a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of coming to Canada place an undue logistical and financial burden on migrants.

Last month the federal government announced new measures meant to protect migrant agricultural workers, including beefed-up inspections.

But the migrants interviewed by Reuters argued what will protect them is more stable status that does not tie them to an employer.

“Hopefully this year, the government of Canada gives us status,” said Teresa, a migrant worker from Baja California.

($1 = 1.2559 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

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