Media Advisory - March 6, 2020
Burnaby Endorses No-Cost Prescription Contraception and AccessBC Campaign Statement for International Women’s Day
On Monday, February 24th, Burnaby City Council passed a motion calling on the Provincial Government to cover all prescription contraception available at no cost under the BC Medical Services Plan.
“It’s wonderful to see Burnaby pass this motion and support this important issue,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, committee chair and co-founder of the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception in BC. “Providing universal coverage for no-cost prescription contraception is a policy based on solid evidence and would have a big impact on public health across the province.”
“There is momentum for no-cost prescription contraception growing across the province,” said Devon Black, AccessBC co-founder. “This is important, as the cost of contraception falls disproportionately on women and people with uteruses.”
A recent study from UBC found that cost continues to pose as a significant barrier to people accessing prescription contraception. 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.
“The cost of prescription contraception is a particularly significant barrier to people with low incomes, youth, and people from marginalized communities,” said Phelps Bondaroff.
“The types of contraception that are most reliable and easiest for people with uteruses to control are the ones that have the highest out-of-pocket costs,” said Devon Black. “Meanwhile vasectomies are covered by the province and condoms are routinely handed out for free. Access to contraception is an obvious gender equality issue.”
"Universal no-cost prescription contraception would be a great step in moving towards gender equality in our health care system,” said Nazanin Moghadami, a registered clinical counsellor and member of the AccessBC Campaign team. “Like 1,800,000 other Canadians, I have endometriosis. As a person with no extended benefits, I pay between $1,800 - $2,100 every year for prescription contraception just to stay functional. Having provincial coverage means a significant financial relief for me and many others."
“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.”
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 seen 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.
Sunday March 8th is International Women’s Day, and on International Women’s Day, AccessBC calls on the Government of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly to make all prescription contraception universally accessible at no cost.
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.
Burnaby City Motion:
WHEREAS cost is a significant barrier to people accessing contraception, particularly to people with low incomes, youth, and people from marginalized communities;
WHEREAS providing free prescription contraception has been shown to improve health outcomes for parents and infants by reducing the risks associated with unintended pregnancy, and is likely to reduce direct medical costs on the provincial health system;
WHEREAS contraceptive methods targeted at men and those with penes (i.e., condoms or vasectomies) are available at low cost, no cost, or are covered by BC's Medical Services Plan; and
WHEREAS contraceptive methods for people with uteruses (i.e. birth control pills, intrauterine devices, or hormone injections) have high up-front costs, making access to contraception unequal and gendered;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council call on the Provincial Government to make all prescription contraception in BC available at no cost under the Medical Services Plan.