The ultimate guide to getting treatment for minor ailments

When faced with a medical issue or a health concern, it can be tricky to navigate how to get treatment quickly and effectively. Traditionally, we would automatically go to a family doctor or visit the nearest walk-in clinic if we didn’t have a family doctor. 

While for many health issues, this is still the best course of action, recently, for many minor ailments, you can now visit a pharmacist for treatment, which can often be much faster than getting to see a doctor. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about minor ailments in Canada.

What is a minor ailment?

A minor ailment is a health concern that is not serious and can be easily treated. Someone can usually self-diagnose a minor ailment and can often find relief from minimal treatment which can include prescription medication. 

For example, when we can see that an eye is pink or red and has crusty discharge around the inner eye, it would be fair to guess that this would be pink eye. To save time, instead of booking an appointment with a family doctor or going to a walk-in clinic, one could visit a pharmacist, who can assess the health issue and give a prescription. 

How do I know if what I have can be considered a minor ailment?

Does your health concern meet this criteria?

Usually a short-term condition Lab tests are not required < Low risk Only minimal or short-term follow-up is required

What is covered under minor ailments?

Does your health concern meet this criteria?

Usually a short-term condition Lab tests are not required < Low risk Only minimal or short-term follow-up is required

In Ontario: 

In British Columbia: 

In Alberta: 

In Manitoba: 

In Newfoundland: 

In Prince Edward Island: 

In Saskatchewan: 

Can my pharmacist prescribe antibiotics that are needed to treat minor ailments?

Pharmacists can prescribe antibiotics for certain conditions such as urinary tract infections and conjunctivitis (pink eye). 

A pharmacist will first assess your “minor ailment” before prescribing you anything. This is usually called an assessment process, through which a pharmacist will decide whether or not to prescribe you antibiotics.

It’s important to remember that just because you think you have a minor ailment or if your pharmacists see it as a minor ailment, it does not necessarily mean you are going to get a prescription for antibiotics.

Do I have to book an appointment to see a pharmacist for a minor ailment?

Individual pharmacies may have their processes in place to provide minor ailments services. Patients are encouraged to speak to their pharmacist to find out what healthcare services they offer, the format of the services offered, and whether they are right for their needs. can help you locate a pharmacy near you that provides the services you need. Search for a pharmacist.

Do I have to pay for using this service / is this covered under my provincial plan?

To be assessed for a minor ailment by a pharmacist, patients only require their health card to access this pharmacy service funded by the Ministry of Health. If a prescription is issued to treat a minor ailment, similar to prescriptions provided by a physician or nurse practitioner, there may be costs or fees associated with dispensing.

Can all pharmacies help with minor ailments?

If you would like to be assessed for a minor ailment and you aren’t sure if they can help, talk to your pharmacist and get to know the range of services that your pharmacy offers. You can also call them directly or search for a pharmacist on to find the nearest location that offers minor ailments assessments.

From what age can a pharmacist prescribe medication for minor ailments?

Pharmacists can prescribe medications for minor ailments to individuals of any age.  It’s important to note that medications that pharmacists can prescribe may vary depending on the individual’s age and the nature of the ailment.

Can a pharmacist help with minor injuries?

Yes, pharmacists can often provide assistance and guidance for minor injuries. While they are not typically trained to provide extensive medical treatment, they can offer advice on how to manage minor injuries and recommend over-the-counter medications or products that may help alleviate symptoms or promote healing.

For example, pharmacists can provide recommendations for:

Pharmacists are often knowledgeable about various products available in the pharmacy that can be used to address minor injuries. If the injury is severe or requires immediate medical attention, they will typically advise the individual to seek care from a physician or go to an emergency room.

What is the process to be seen by a pharmacist?

Comparison chart of what each province offers

provincial pharmacy comparison
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