Canada: Supreme court upholds BC pharmacy rewards ban

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By: RickFerguson |

Posted on July 14, 2016

Lots of loyalty news out of Canada this week. Here's the latest: following up on our report out of Canadian provice British Columbia concerning the provincial ban on earning reward points for pharmacy purchases, the Supreme Court of Canada has declined to hear an appeal of the lower court ruling that put the ban into place - meaning that British Columbian shoppers will no longer earn rewards on their prescriptions.

As we reported earlier this year, the ban originated with the British Columbia College of Pharmacists, which argued that rewards tied to prescription drug purchases were harmful to patient health. Money quote from CBC News:

"The legal challenge was launched by Sobeys West, which operates the Safeway and Thrifty Foods grocery chains in B.C., after the B.C. College of Pharmacists banned its members from tying prescriptions to customer incentives. Sobeys had argued there was no evidence of actual harm justifying such a broad ban, and that the ban went beyond what would be required to address any theoretical harms. The Supreme Court of British Columbia struck down the ban for being too broad and unreasonable in 2014, but that ruling was then set aside by the Appeal Court of B.C. in January."

By declining to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court has cemented the ban on pharmacy rewards in B.C. We remain sympathetic to Sobeys' position - there is ample evidence to support the idea that the data collection from pharmacy reward programmes can actually be beneficial to consumers - but we're confident that Canadian pharmacy retailers will find other ways to recognise and reward best customers.

-Rick Ferguson

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