04/24/2013 04:36 EDT | Updated 06/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Coalition calls for retention of rewards programs in prescription purchases

VANCOUVER - A group representing consumers and pharmacies is calling on the next B.C. government to reject a proposal that would ban customers from earning points on their retail rewards cards when they pay for prescriptions not covered by the Medical Services Plan.

The Coalition for Consumer Choice says the ban was proposed by the B.C. College of Pharmacists last fall, but the final decision is up to the health ministry.

Consumers Association of Canada President Bruce Cran says the ban would be unfair and the government should not interfere in consumer choice.

Roxanne Stewart, the Vice President of the Chronic Pain Association of Canada, says many of her members rely on reward programs to help make purchases more affordable.

Randy Konrad, the Regional Pharmacy Manager with Canada Safeway, says loyalty programs build stronger bonds between patients and their pharmacists, which encourages patients to use their medications properly.

The coalition has released a poll that is says shows three-quarters of British Columbians think it would be unfair for the government to strip them of their right to earn loyalty rewards on prescriptions not covered by the provincial medical plan.