VICTORIA, B.C. – Budget 2022 prides itself on moving forward to build a stronger B.C., but failed to deliver on free universal prescription contraception for all British Columbians, a promise made by the BC NDP in 2020.
“The United Nations has named contraception as a basic human right, 18 months into this majority government, women, trans-men, and gender-diverse people continue to shell out hundreds of dollars a year for this basic care,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.
“That’s why today - International Women’s Day - I called on Premier Horgan in Question Period to take action on this basic promise. I’m worried that his government is holding off on this basic policy change to use it for political points ahead of the next election. That’s unfair to British Columbians and entrenches gender inequity across the province.”
Minister for Health Adrian Dix stood up to say that free contraception would happen by the next election - or, by 2024. This means that British Columbians will have to continue to shell out hundreds of dollars for a few more years, despite a promise for urgent action and growing affordability problems.
“The BC NDP campaigned on delivering free contraception as part of its election platform in 2020,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley. “This government has shown its willingness to use its power in extraordinary ways, such as rebuilding the Coquihalla in record time, or pushing through restrictive amendments to Freedom of Information legislation. But this basic promise, which would benefit the lives of millions of British Columbians, remains unfulfilled.
“With the rising costs of living, providing free contraception is a concrete measure this government can put in place that will provide immediate and ongoing financial relief for people. Now, seeing the disproportionate impacts that COVID-19 has had on women, trans people, and the non-binary community, it is clear that these burdens have been hugely multiplied.”
Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Co-founder and Chair, AccessBC Campaign
“The 2022 budget was a missed opportunity for the BC NDP to fulfill its election promise to make all prescription contraception free. Universal no-cost prescription contraception will improve maternal and infant health, increase equality, make life more affordable, and will save the government millions of dollars, and it is very disappointing that another budget has passed without this important policy being funded."
Dr. Ruth Habte, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Resident Physician, Campaign Coordinator, AccessBC
“The effects of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected people who identify as women and specifically, women of colour who are essential workers. Universal access to contraception would help ease this burden with respect to reproductive health care, and is overdue. There is no ambiguity surrounding the cost-savings of universal no-cost contraceptive policies. Unintended pregnancies cost our healthcare system and patients directly. Continuing to wait to implement the policy leads to more unintended pregnancies and cost to our already strained healthcare system.”
Jessica L. Jimmo, Campaign Municipal Council Outreach Coordinator, AccessBC
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, with the cost of living rising, BC cannot continue to delay making sure that those who can get pregnant have free and universal access to the necessary medication to control when, if, and how they become pregnant. Universal no-cost prescription contraception as a policy just makes good sense and the social, fiscal, health and equity benefits are irrefutable. The costs of not having full reproductive choice are too high for all British Columbians, not just for those who have a uterus. AccessBC will keep pushing hard until this election promise has been met.”
- An intrauterine device (IUD) can cost between $75 and $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, a hormone injection can cost as much as $180 per year, and an implant can cost around $350. Such costs represent a significant barrier, particularly to people with low incomes, youth, and women from marginalized communities (Source: AccessBC).
- MSPs cover vasectomies, but do not extend to contraceptive care for people with uteruses (aside from hysterectomies, which are notoriously difficult to access if sought for contraceptive reasons, rather than reasons deemed medically necessary by physicians).
- Canadian contraceptive care providers identify cost as the single most important barrier to access, and youth as the population most disproportionately affected by this barrier (Source: J. Hulme, Barriers and Facilitators to Family Planning Access in Canada, 2015).
- Countries that fully or partly subsidize universal access to contraception (including the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Germany, and Ireland) have found that the personal, public health, social, and economic benefits outweigh the program costs (Source: AccessBC, Vox).
B.C. Green Caucus
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