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

Rainfall warning: Up to 70 mm expected across Fraser Valley

Environment Canada issued a weather warning heading into the long weekend

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read