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SCC denies Sobeys leave to appeal in loyalty rewards program dispute with Alberta College of Pharmacists

On August 9, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada denied Sobeys’ application for leave to appeal (docket no. 37864) from the Alberta Court of Appeal (ABCA)’s decision in a dispute regarding the Alberta College of Pharmacists (the “College”)’s policy prohibiting pharmacists/pharmacies from offering loyalty rewards programs or inducements to patients.

The ABCA held that the policy was intra vires the College under the Health Professions Act and reasonable (Alberta College of Pharmacists v Sobeys West Inc., 2017 ABCA 306), disagreeing with the application judge regarding the appropriate standard of review and on the merits (Sobeys West Inc. v Alberta College of Pharmacists2016 ABQB 138; Sobeys West Inc. v Alberta College of Pharmacists, 2016 ABQB 232).

This decision follows the Supreme Court’s 2016 refusal to grant Sobeys leave to appeal a British Columbia Court of Appeal decision allowing the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia to prohibit “customer incentive programs”: Sobeys West Inc. v College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, 2016 BCCA 41; SCC docket no. 36917.