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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Most Read