Your guide to pharmacies and medications

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

After a medical consultation, your doctor may tell you to take medicine to ease your pain, heal an illness, or improve your health. You will get a prescription slip which you can bring to a drugstore to get filled.

Going to the drugstore is easy, but the process of getting your prescription may be different in Manitoba compared to your home country. Here is a guide to know what to do and expect:

Going to a pharmacy

There are several drugstores and pharmacies in Manitoba. You may have seen branches of Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, or London Drugs which are some of the biggest drugstores in the province. You can also find pharmacies inside supermarkets like Walmart, Costco, Safeway, and Superstore. There are also smaller stand-alone pharmacies in your community (check this directory of licensed pharmacies in Manitoba).

When you get there, the first thing to do is show the prescription slip to the pharmacist. The pharmacist will read it and check the medicine’s availability and cost. They may ask a few questions depending on the type of medicine you need. For example, they can ask if you have allergies or if you’ve taken the medicine before. They can also ask to see an ID and your Manitoba Health Card. You will have to wait a few minutes or longer depending on what is needed to prepare your medicine. Pharmacists do not only count your pills, they also check the medication, dosage and instructions to make sure that it will not cause allergies or interact badly with other medications that you may be taking. They also fill out details in your records. This can take a while. The pharmacist will inform you when you should return.

Note that only Canada-licensed physicians’ prescriptions are filled by pharmacies. Also, they can only sell Health Canada approved drugs (College of Pharmacists of Manitoba).

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs

You may have heard the term “over-the-counter medications”. These are medicines for minor ailments like headaches, colds, flu, fever, or allergies. You can buy them without a prescription because their strength is lower compared to prescription medicine. Even then, health professionals warn against self-medication and the improper use of over-the-counter drugs. Combining them with other medicines, going beyond the recommended dosage, or taking them for a long time can cause side effects, worsen a disease, or hurt your kidneys. It is always best to consult your doctor before taking any medication.

Reading a prescription label

Close-up of hand holding a prescription bottle

Image by Javier Rapoport from Flickr. CC-BY-SA.

Your prescription medicine will have a personalized label. It will contain directions for use (how much to take, how many times in a day, and when you should take the medicine), the name of the medicine, the expiration date, the RX number, and the name of the pharmacist. You’ll also see the name of the pharmacy, the address, your doctor’s name, and your name. In case you have questions about the medication (if it causes a bad reaction, for example), you can consult your pharmacist if your doctor is not available. Refer to the label information, or better yet, bring it with you at the consultation.

Your pharmacist can provide a lot of helpful information. They can warn you about possible side-effects, suggest the best time to take your medicine, and even work with your doctor to come up with the best treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek assistance from the pharmacist. They will be glad to help you.

Pharmacare and other supports

Medicines can be costly, especially if you need to take them for a long time. Learn about the Pharmacare program if you need support. If eligible, it can pay part of your prescription costs regardless of your disease or age. The coverage is based on your total family income and the amount you pay for eligible prescription drugs. You can apply if you are eligible for the Manitoba health card and if your prescriptions are not covered by other provincial or federal programs, or a private drug insurance program.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba Home Cancer Drug program offers certain drugs at no cost. Patients managed by Cancer Care Manitoba (CCMB), Community Cancer Program Network, or community oncologists affiliated with CCMB are eligible. You can learn more about this program here: Manitoba Home Cancer Drug Program.

There are also supplementary health insurance plans that can cover a big part of prescription costs. Check with your employer if your group plan coverage includes this benefit. Otherwise, while you are healthy, look into personal health insurance plans that offer this benefit if you think that you will have good use for it in the future.
Article updated March 20, 2024.

Back to top

Community Resources

Here is a Price comparison of commonly prescribed medications in Manitoba (2023). This is a good reference if you are looking for prescription options that you can discuss with your doctor.

Know more about your Manitoba Health Care coverage at Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living.

Read Do I need supplementary health insurance? to know more about individual health plans.

Back to top


Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Health Workshops

A health care worker holding the hand of a patient

This is a series of workshops related to health. Workshops 1 is geared towards CLB 3-4. Workshop 2 is geared… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.