A bank of B.C. Hydro smart meters in a test lab in Burnaby.

A bank of B.C. Hydro smart meters in a test lab in Burnaby.

Tribunal may hear smart meter illness claims

Wireless opponents still face hurdle in furnishing proof

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to hear a complaint that B.C. Hydro’s blanket installation of wireless smart meters discriminates against medical sufferers who claim electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

Smart meter opposition group Citizens For Safe Technology lodged the complaint, which alleges discrimination on the basis of physical disability because of Hydro’s refusal to allow residents to opt out and have wired meters instead.

The group intends to bring evidence on behalf of dozens of affected members who have doctor’s advice to avoid living near wireless smart meters, and it also hopes others claiming similar afflictions could later join and benefit from any tribunal-ordered remedy.

But the Aug. 28 decision, written by tribunal member Enid Marion, sets a high bar for the challenge to advance.

The decision notes the group’s claims span various illnesses and included a catch-all category of “unspecified medical conditions” that the tribunal ruled was “too vague.”

Citizens for Safe Technology (CST) were given 30 days to narrow their initial list of 45 claimants to just those with more specific illnesses linked to wireless exposure.

“It is simply unmanageable to have a plethora of various medical conditions that must be proven and linked to the adverse treatment (of avoiding smart meters),” the ruling said.

“A vague and medically unsubstantiated reference by a physician to avoid wireless technology is insufficient to constitute a disability,” it said. “There must be a medical diagnosis, as well as a contraindication for exposure to such technology because of its effect on the medical condition.”

If the claim clears that hurdle, the tribunal would either hold a full hearing or seek written submissions on whether electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) qualifies as a disability under B.C.’s Human Rights Code.

BC Hydro argued CST’s complainants failed to so far provide any medical evidence of their ailments and that many are merely out to block smart meters for reasons other than their health.

The tribunal found CST may have “political motivations” but that doesn’t bar it from making a complaint.

The tribunal also ruled that the discriminated class doesn’t have to be limited to BC Hydro customers – leaving it open for customer spouses, children and other residents to join the claim.

B.C. Hydro argued the complaint did not identify a specific set of individuals, that it’s not within the tribunal’s jurisdiction and that the smart meter installation was mandated by provincial law.

Hydro maintains its wireless smart meter network is safe and that signals are low power compared to other common radio-frequency sources and are transmitted only occasionally, amounting to miniscule time-averaged exposure compared to Health Canada limits.

Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have found no evidence to back claims of health risk from wireless smart meters.

Smart meters have already been installed in most Lower Mainland homes and the rollout is slated to be complete by the end of the year.

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

A program of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation enables patients to thank their health-care workers.
Fraser Valley program enables patients to say thanks to their health-care workers

Philip Harris Grateful Patient Program offered through health care foundation

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read