VICTORIA, B.C. – On day one of Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week, the B.C. Green Caucus is repeating the call for free contraception, declared a basic human right by the United Nations and a commitment made by the BC NDP over two years ago.
“Two years into this majority government and British Columbians continue to shell out hundreds of dollars a year for this basic care, despite a promise for urgent action and growing affordability problems,” said Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley.
“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.
“This basic promise, which would benefit the lives of millions in the province, remains unfulfilled. I am calling on Premier Eby to take action. 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.”
Free contraception has the support of all parties in the Legislature.
Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Co-founder and Chair, AccessBC Campaign
“Free prescription contraception is a fantastic policy that will improve maternal and infant health outcomes, increase equality, make life more affordable, and will save the government millions of dollars. This policy was a major 2020 BC NDP election promise and it is important that it be implemented soon. Every month that we delay is another month that British Columbians face unnecessary barriers to accessing prescription contraception."
Jessica L. Jimmo, Municipal Outreach Coordinator, AccessBC
“The current housing and affordability crisis means that British Columbians cannot wait even another day for the provincial government to fulfill its promise to provide prescription contraception for free. Current MSP policies do not recognize the financial hardship people are facing with the rising cost of living. Deciding to pay for birth control or keep the heat on, is a very real decision that folks in B.C. are faced with right now, further making the cost of an unplanned or unintended pregnancy for all in B.C., catastrophic. Universal no-cost prescription contraception coverage as a policy, just makes good sense and the social, fiscal, health, and equity benefits are irrefutable. AccessBC won't stop until this election promise has been met.”
- An intrauterine device (IUD) can cost between $75 and $500, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month or more, 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).
- MSP covers vasectomies, but does not extend to oral contraceptive care for people with uteruses.
- 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).
- For more information, see AccessBC’s briefing paper.