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

RCMP investigate two shootings in Surrey

Incidents happened in Whalley, Newton

Reach leader honoured for lifetime of service in Delta

Rotary Club of Ladner awarded Renie D’Aquila with the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow Award

COLUMN: Fighting racism to build a safer, more inclusive B.C.

MLA Ravi Kahlon is travelling across B.C. to discuss emerging issues on racism and hate incidences

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

North Delta Secondary teacher up for B.C. education award

Prabhjot Grewal is up for a Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education in the Outstanding New Teacher category

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Most Read