Blind advocacy group’s bid for safe drug labelling in B.C. gets boost

Human rights complaint seeks better prescription medication labelling

Blind rights advocate Rob Sleath is a step closer in his bid to have Shoppers Drug Mart label its prescription medication for sight-impaired customers.

Shoppers failed in its bid to have the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismiss the complaint made by Sleath on behalf of independent advocacy group Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers.

“I think it’s fair to say the whole landscape has changed as a result of that ruling,” Sleath said Tuesday of the June 10 judgement. “I think they were pretty confident they would win the dismissal.”

Sleath’s June 2, 2014 complaint claimed that Shoppers discriminates against sight-impaired individuals who purchase prescription medication at its B.C. outlets.

Shoppers argued it doesn’t compromise the health and safety of its blind customers by not using radio-frequency identification—or RFID—technology in its labels.

ASIC is seeking that everyone with a visual disability get access to the high-tech labels, the tribunal judgement said.

While he denied Shoppers’ bid, tribunal member Walter Rilkoff wrote that the decision doesn’t “mean or suggest that ASIC’s complaint will necessarily succeed.”

It added that the drugstore chain “ignored (Sleath) for years until after he filed a human rights complaint.”

Shoppers is now offering other accommodations to assist visually-impaired customers.

Sleath said the company made a counter-offer four days later that was “much improved.”

The Richmond man has been advocating for the blind for many years, but said this case became personal for him in 2008, when he was diagnosed with acute renal failure.

He went on dialysis and was given 10 medications to take, but he had no way of reading the bottles.

Then, in 2014, he mixed up two insulin pens and ended up in hospital.

Overwaitea Food Group now offers medication with the high-tech tags, which allow a special electronic device to read out key information including the patient’s name, dosage, side effects and warnings.

But Sleath said that service takes seven to 14 days.

London Drugs also offers the service, but it takes up to 10 days.

Walmart is supposed to be doing so, but hasn’t followed through yet, Sleath said, adding that Costco hasn’t been approached yet.

About 727,000 people in B.C. are affected by one of four major eye diseases that lead to blindness, as well as 64,500 who are legally blind. Others have print-reading disabilities, including dyslexia or age-related vision problems, and they also stand to benefit, Sleath said.

Just Posted

Over-budget bids cause delay of four Surrey school projects

Two projects have gone back out to tender, two awaiting ‘revised budget approval’ from Ministry of Education

Fees ensure patients have access to parking at SMH, FHA says

Fraser Health Authority hasn’t heard yet from city hall about pay parking at Surrey hospital

Free hospital parking a non-starter in White Rock

City considering task force to look at parking generally – Walker

Surrey memories: How the ‘IGUISBCSIR’ Facebook page became a hub for anecdotal history

Former Whalley resident Wes Mussato launched the group in 2011, 11 years after he’d moved to Ontario

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read