A recent trip to a Surrey, BC Walmart left Kathleen McMahon angry and calling for better training for staff when dealing with disabled customers.

On Wednesday, McMahon says she and her husband John, who has from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease went to pick up new reading glasses at the Supercentre Grandview Corners location.

The retailer offers disabled customers a complimentary motorized wheelchair which allowed Kathleen, 75, the chance to leave their 60-pound wheelchair at home.

When the couple finished shopping, Kathleen says she went to get her van from the parking lot while John waited near the exit in the wheelchair. After a few minutes when Kathleen arrived to pick him up, she says she noticed something strange.

“When I pulled up my heart just about stopped,” said Kathleen. “He was standing there hanging onto a shopping cart!”

Kathleen says a security guard told John he wasn’t allowed to use the wheelchair outside the store, and told him to use a shopping cart for support instead.

“I was furious — absolutely furious,” said Kathleen. “That woman endangered his life. If he had fallen backward and cracked his head on the cement, he would not be sitting here today.”

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, says incidents like this are all too common and that better education for staff is essential in ensuring a safe environment for people with disabilities.

“If assistive devices are provided by that location, there needs to be training for all staff but particularly front door staff around how to help and support people,” said Tambyn. “Underpinning this, I think, is a concern about theft or risk of loss, but what they should be concerned about is the well-being of people, and frankly, their own liability.

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Kathleen says she’s tried contacting Walmart’s upper management to report the incident and to get answers about the company’s policy for dealing with disabled customers.

“What I’m looking for is a policy to be put in place and the staff to be properly trained so that this never happens to anyone ever again,” said Kathleen, who has yet to receive a response from Walmart.

John, meanwhile, says he doesn’t think the security guard was being malicious.

“It wasn’t anything intentional I don’t think,” said John. “It was just a lack of thought or consideration.”

Walmart sent the following statement to CTV News regarding the incident.

“We were very concerned to hear about this incident and are looking into it further,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

“Walmart Canada takes pride in accessible customer service in our stores and we are committed to providing a safe, convenient, and dignified shopping experience for customers with disabilities.”

The statement also said the company will be reaching out to Kathleen and John.

Both say they are waiting and hoping for a swift resolution.

“I know they’re capable of doing more to help people,” said John


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