AccessBC Campaign Statement in Response to the 2020 BC Provincial Budget
Press Release - February 18, 2020
The AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception was disappointed to see that the 2020 BC provincial budget was released today without any commitment from the government to reduce the cost of prescription contraception in our province.
“Providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage isn’t just good public health policy,” said AccessBC co-founder Devon Black. “It’s also good fiscal policy, as we’ve seen over and over in jurisdictions where this kind of policy has been implemented. Today’s budget was a big missed opportunity.”
A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC would likely cost approximately $50 million, but would save as much as $95 million per year. That pattern of savings has been borne out in other jurisdictions, such as the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, which all subsidize prescription contraception in full or in part.
“The evidence is clear - unintended pregnancies are costly, both to our healthcare system and to patients directly,” said AccessBC committee member and Obstetrics and Gynaecology Resident Physician Ruth Habte. “Data has continued to demonstrate the cost saving effect of universal access to contraceptives, especially the hormonal intrauterine devices, an option currently out of reach for many patients due to cost.”
“We’ve heard very clearly from BC residents that this policy is something they want,” said AccessBC co-founder Teale Phelps Bondaroff. “Contraception costs hit people in their wallets, but people also recognize that this is an equality issue, since contraception costs are so much higher for people with uteruses.”
“It’s disappointing to see that a government that has made significant strides on gender equality has decided that increasing access to contraception was not a priority this year,” added Black.
AccessBC continues to call on the Government of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly to make all forms of prescription contraception be made universally accessible at no cost for any citizen.
Furthermore, we call on the government to ensure that all community clinics, hospitals, and identified health care sites are supported to carry a full complement of contraception to ensure that choice is available based on the needs and personal preference of the individual seeking the contraception.
AccessBC will continue the fight for universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC, with the support of its allies and supporters across the province.
“This is a fight we can’t afford to abandon,” said Black. “For BC residents who can’t afford to exercise full reproductive choice, the costs are just too high.”