Press Release - August 30, 2020
Kimberley City Council Supports No-Cost Prescription Contraception
On Monday, August 17, 2020, Kimberley City Council unanimously 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 great to see Kimberley pass this motion," said Dr. Katelyn Mudry, a local naturopathic physician and member 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, affordability, and equality across the province, and especially in our rural community.”
Kimberley is the fourth BC municipality to endorse universal, no cost coverage of prescription contraception in the province, following Vancouver, Victoria, and Burnaby.
The motion was moved by Councillor Nigel Kitto, and was seconded by Councillor Kyle Dalum. “As a municipality it isn’t our responsibility to provide health care, but it’s our responsibility to give it some weight. It’s an equity issue,” said Councillor Kitto during the council meeting.
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.
“People with uteruses are often paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket for contraception,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “Meanwhile, vasectomies are covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan and condoms are handed out for free. That kind of structural inequality is just not acceptable in 2020.”
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 in accessing contraception for many people in BC, and make it much harder for BC residents to freely make their own reproductive choices.
“Programs that offer free prescription contraception have been shown to save significantly more money than they cost to put in place. The cost of providing prescription contraception is considerably lower than the costs of unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, co-founder and committee chair of AccessBC. “At a time when the government is looking for ways to respond to the cost impacts of COVID-19, this is a creative solution that would save money while improving health outcomes for BC residents.”
Email from Dr. Katelyn Mudry dated August 5, 2020 relating to accessibility to contraception
1. Cost is a significant barrier to people accessing contraception, particularly to people with low incomes, youth, and people from marginalized communities;
2. Providing no-cost 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;
3. Contraceptive methods targeted at men (such as condoms or vasectomies) are available at low cost or are covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan, whereas contraceptive methods for people with uteruses (such as birth control pills, intra-uterine devices, or hormone injections) have high up-front costs, making access to contraception unequal and gendered;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council directs the Mayor to write to the Provincial Government to urge them make all prescription contraception in BC available at no cost under the Medical Services Plan.
Video of proceedings (motion at 38:00).