Press Release - October 14, 2020
Alert Bay Village Council Calls for Free Prescription Contraception
On October 1, 2020, Alert Bay Village Council passed a motion calling on the Provincial Government to cover all prescription contraception at no cost under the BC Medical Services Plan.
“The Council of the Village of Alert Bay support you in assisting youth, those with low incomes or people from marginalized communities,” wrote Mayor Dennis Buchanan in a letter of support to AccessBC. “Needless to say there would be so many benefits that would go along with such a program, such as not having to make choices between contraception and rent, heat or food. As well as a significant drop in health and welfare costs, unintended pregnancies, to name a few.”
Alert Bay is the 9th BC municipality to individually endorse universal, no-cost coverage of prescription contraception in the province, following Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kimberley, Squamish, New Westminster, Cranbrook, and Fernie. Vernon City Council passed a motion on October 13th. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) passed two resolutions supporting this policy at their recent 2020 Convention.
“Universal no-cost prescription contraception is one of those wonderful win-win-win situations: it improves the health and wellbeing of families, improves gender equity and is a financially responsible decision that will save all taxpayers much needed income,” says Lisa Jensen, teacher and AccessBC Campaign member. “As someone who loves to work proactively and prevent issues before they arise, I believe that free access to contraception for all is needed to prevent harm to vulnerable and marginalized people in our society.”
“At its core, this is an issue of equality,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “We know that people with uteruses pay unfairly high costs in dealing with unplanned pregnancy, but under our current system they also pay unfairly high costs to prevent pregnancy in the first place. This puts those of us who can become pregnant in an impossible lose-lose situation, in a way that we shouldn’t still accept in 2020.”
A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC could save the provincial government as much as $95 million per year. That pattern of savings has been seen in other jurisdictions, such as the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy and Germany, which all subsidize prescription contraception in full or in part.
Currently, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. These costs are a significant barrier to accessing contraception for many people in BC.
“Programs that offer universal no-cost prescription contraception not only make life more affordable for people and increase equality, they save governments money, because the cost of offering prescription contraception at no cost is considerably lower than the costs associated with unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Chair and co-founder of the AccessBC Campaign. “I’m very pleased to see municipalities across BC adding their voice to the call for universal no-cost prescription contraception, as this policy needs to be part of any provincial recovery plan.”