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Press Release  - March 26, 2024

AccessBC Campaign celebrates first anniversary of free prescription contraception in B.C.


The AccessBC Campaign is celebrating the first anniversary of free prescription contraception in British Columbia. The grassroots campaign that advocated for universal coverage of prescription contraception applauds the B.C. government’s leadership on reproductive justice issues and calls for the further expansion of the policy.

On April 1, 2023, B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to make prescription contraception free. The 2023 provincial budget dedicated $119 million over three years for a program that covers prescription contraception options, including most oral pills, injections, hormonal rings, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants, and Plan B (emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill).

“Today, we are celebrating B.C.’s leadership on reproductive justice,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC Campaign chair and co-founder. “Free prescription contraception has already helped transform lives and improve the health and well-being of British Columbians. The expansion of the program, along with improving pain management for IUD insertions, training additional medical professionals, and working to remove additional barriers will build on this excellent foundation.” 

AccessBC is calling on the government to take further action to improve access to sexual and reproductive health care by:

  • expanding coverage to include additional types and brands of contraceptives, including the patch, Lo Loestrin Fe (also known as Lolo, a “low-dose” pill), Slynd (an estrogen-free pill), and Ella (a form of emergency contraception);

  • increasing the number of medical professionals trained in intrauterine device (IUD) and implant insertion;

  • improving pain management relating to IUD insertion; and

  • continuing to improve access to contraceptive pills by making some available over the counter. 

“The day that B.C. made contraception free, I got messages from people all over the province. Medical practitioners were excited about what this would mean for their patients, and friends were thrilled that they could finally afford an IUD,” said Devon Black, AccessBC Campaign national liaison and co-founder. “Making contraception free for everyone is a commitment to reproductive rights, to sexual health and wellbeing, and to gender equality. I am proud that our efforts are helping to inspire change across the country, and am grateful to all of the advocates who are stepping up and pushing for reproductive justice.”

AccessBC’s push for prescription contraception in British Columbia has inspired a movement across the country. Grassroots campaigns are active in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The recently announced first phase of the national pharmacare plan further builds on the success of AccessBC’s campaign, and will provide universal, single-payer coverage for a number of contraception and diabetes medications.

“When contraception is available at no cost, people are better able to decide what option works best for them,” said Dr. Ruth Habte, AccessBC Campaign organiser and obstetrics and gynaecology resident physician. “This policy continues to improve the lives of people with a uterus through cost savings, and by empowering them to exert their reproductive rights. While we have come so far in British Columbia, I am looking forward to a day where the policy is even more inclusive of all options available.” 

A Government of B.C. press release dated Dec. 8, 2023, reported that between April 1, 2023, and Nov. 28 of that same year,more than 188,000 people received free contraceptives. More than 123,000 people received hormonal pill contraceptives, more than 30,000 people received intrauterine devices (IUD) and more than 37,000 people  obtained emergency contraceptives.

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“I gave birth to my second child three months ago. I am on a small fixed income, as I am taking 18 months maternity leave and my workplace does not provide any top up. At six weeks postpartum, I was able to get an IUD at no cost. Not paying for this contraception made a huge difference to my family. It meant approximately $400 more to go towards grocery bills. It also meant that I felt comfortable continuing to have my daughter enrolled in toddler gymnastics. When you are on a maternity leave budget with no top up from your employer, this kind of money does not go unnoticed. I am so grateful that cost was not a barrier and that I was able to access the contraception of my choice.”

Erica Cronin, nurse and AccessBC team member (she/her)


“As someone who has been navigating menstrual-related pain for ten years, I have cycled through many different forms of birth control. I grew up in Ontario, and every time I made this change, it came with a cost. There was a time I would stay on a birth control package until I finished it, even if it was causing me pain, because I knew in order to change my prescription I would have to pay for yet another type of birth control. As I continue to navigate the complex world of pain management related to menstrual pain, it is liberating to know that cost will no longer have to play into my decision. I can choose to start and stop contraception according to my needs, rather than the fear of how much my choice will cost. Free prescription contraception is good for everyone. This is what it means to have choice.” 

Syd Grischow, student at the University of Victoria student (she/her)


“After my son was born, I knew I wanted to go on birth control as I could barely afford my one kid. Thanks to AccessBC, I was able to get the Nexplanon implant for free. This has helped me feel sure that I won't have another kid until I'm ready and can afford it. Thanks AccessBC – without you, who knows where my life would be.” 

Des F., full-time single mom (she/they)


“I’m so proud to have been a volunteer with AccessBC advocating for free prescription contraception, which has now gained momentum nationally. As a nurse practitioner, I provided many patient abortions that could have easily been preventable if contraception had been free for them. Now that contraception is free, I feel more at ease providing a variety of options to my patients to prevent pregnancy but also to address a variety of symptoms they may be experiencing. For example, many patients have inserted IUDs, which would have cost them around $400. I am proud to celebrate our accomplishment in the last year and hope we can continue to work on improving and ensuring access to all residents!” 

Sara Eftekhar, nurse and AccessBC team member (she/her)


“Every day, I help British Columbians navigate community, government, and social services during the most severe housing and affordability crisis BC has ever seen. I no longer have to worry about cost being a barrier for folks to exercise their full reproductive rights. An unwanted pregnancy can create immeasurable and unseen economic and social costs. Especially during our current affordability crisis, the personal impact of an individual not being able to exercise their full reproductive human rights could be catastrophic. It still brings up emotion in me, knowing that future generations will not know the weight of deciding between rent and prescription contraception in BC.”

Jessica L. Jimmo, AccessBC municipal Outreach Co-ordinator (she/her)


“As a youth clinic doctor, no-cost contraception has meant real autonomy and self-determination, empowering young people to pick a birth control option that best aligns with their own body, life stage and state of mind, rather than their budget.” 

Dr. Sarah Malleson, VCH youth clinic physician and AccessBC team member (she/her)

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