Press Release - October 14, 2020
Fernie Council Adds Voice to Call for Free Prescription Contraception
On September 28th, Fernie City Council passed a motion calling on the Provincial Government to cover all prescription contraception at no cost under the BC Medical Services Plan.
“The progress this campaign has made is incredible. You can tell the people involved truly care, as it is all volunteer based, and they put in a lot of work!” said Samuel Kirk, medical student and AccessBC Campaign volunteer. “Whenever I explain the campaign the reception has been positive; people from BC feel that this policy is long overdue. It is great to see so many local governments supporting this policy."
Fernie is the 8th BC municipality to individually endorse universal, no-cost coverage of prescription contraception in the province, following Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kimberley, Squamish, New Westminster, and Cranbrook. The Village of Alert Bay Council passed a similar motion on October 1st, and 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.
“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.”