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Ministry Status: Routine Monitoring and Engagement

Strengthening Transparency and Accountability

Appointment of an Executive Officer Progress

A major initiative to strengthen the governance and operations of the public drug system was the creation of a new position of Executive Officer (EO) of Ontario Public Drug Programs through amendments to the legislation. The EO will perform the functions of Chief Executive Officer, accountable to the Deputy Minister for managing all activities of Ontario Public Drug Programs and ensuring legislative compliance with ODBA and DIDFA, among others. The Executive Officer will also ensure efficient organization through planning, execution, issues management, program review and performance measurement processes.

Amendments give the EO a number of powers that previously resided with the minister and with cabinet, such as the power to add and remove products from the Formulary. The government also gave the EO the authority to establish rules, criteria and procedures that a manufacturer must follow in submitting requests for changes to the drug benefit prices, as well as the power to enforce drug benefit prices. The EO makes decisions for drugs on the best clinical and economic evidence available. This change will enable the EO to make the public drug system more efficient by:

  • Making decisions faster and being more responsive to patients, prescribers and manufacturers
  • Communicating decisions and rationale publicly
  • Partnering with manufacturers to improve the process for listing drugs.


  • Ron Sapsford was appointed Executive Officer of Ontario Public Drug Programs by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) in September 2006
  • Helen Stevenson was appointed Executive Officer of Ontario Public Drug Programs by the LGIC in June 2007
  • Diane McArthur was appointed Executive Officer of Ontario Public Drug Programs by the LGIC in June 2010


The Executive Officer is a dedicated senior level individual responsible for reviewing and approving drug listing recommendations based on advice from experts, and other ministry staff, and input from stakeholder committees (e.g., pharmacy and citizens' councils). The Executive Officer has the functions and powers as described in the ODBA (most of the functions and powers that previously rested with the Minister and/or the LGIC under the ODBA and the DIDFA have been transferred to the executive officer).

The exact functions and powers as defined in section 1.1(2) of the ODBA are: Subject to this Act and the regulations, it is the function of the executive officer, and he or she has the power, to perform any functions or duties that he or she may have under this Act and the regulations, under the Drug Interchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act and its regulations and under any other Act or regulation, and without in any way restricting the generality of the foregoing to:

  1. administer the Ontario public drug programs;
  2. keep, maintain and publish the Formulary;
  3. make this Act apply in respect of the supplying of drugs that are not listed drug products as provided for in section 16;
  4. designate products as listed drug products, listed substances and designated pharmaceutical products for the purposes of this Act, and to remove or modify those designations;
  5. designate products as interchangeable with other products under the DrugInterchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act, and to remove or modify those designations;
  6. negotiate agreements with manufacturers of drug products, agree with manufacturers as to the drug benefit price of listed drug products, negotiate drug benefit prices for listed substances, and set drug benefit prices for designated pharmaceutical products;
  7. require any information that may or must be provided to the executive officer under this Act or the regulations or any other Act or regulation to be in a format that is satisfactory to the executive officer;
  8. make payments under the Ontario public drug programs;
  9. establish clinical criteria under section 23; and
  10. pay operators of pharmacies for professional services, and to determine the amount of such payments subject to the prescribed conditions, if any.

Amendments to the ODBA enable the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations (1) to clarify, modify or restrict the functions and powers of the Executive Officer and (2) to provide for additional functions and powers of the Executive Officer. The Executive Officer is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as an Order-In-Council.


The Executive Officer is required to produce an annual report that the minister shall publish within 30 days of receiving it.

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