Press Release - August 2, 2023
AccessBC Supports Launch of National Contraception Petition
The AccessBC Campaign is proud to support Project EmpowHER and the launch of their House of Commons Petition E-4516, advocating for universal federal coverage for contraception.
The petition calls on the federal government to commit to a federal policy for universal contraception coverage by September 26, 2023.
The policy would build on the success of AccessBC’s campaign for universal prescription contraception coverage in British Columbia, which became a reality on April 1, 2023. The 2023 BC budget dedicated $119 million over three years for a program that will fully cover prescription contraception options, including most oral pills, injections, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants, and Plan B (also known as the morning after pill).
“We’ve seen the success of making contraception free in British Columbia, but people’s access to basic healthcare shouldn’t be dependent on the province they live in,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “Making this policy a reality across Canada would have a huge impact on Canadians’ ability to protect their reproductive health, and to choose when or if to become pregnant.”
An IUD can cost up to $500, oral contraceptive pills cost at least $240 per year, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. Cost is a significant barrier to people trying to access contraception across Canada, as was demonstrated by the significant increase in people seeking contraception access after BC made prescription contraception free.
A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC would save the province as much as $95 million per year. That pattern of savings has been borne out in other jurisdictions, such as the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, which all subsidise prescription contraception in full or in part.
“Free prescription contraception is a fantastic and much needed policy. It will improve maternal and infant health outcomes, increase equality, make life more affordable, and save governments millions of dollars,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Campaign Chair and co-founder of AccessBC. “At a time when we see reproductive rights being rolled back around the world, Canada needs to stand up for reproductive justice. No one should face unnecessary barriers when trying to access contraception.”
AccessBC has been advocating for universal, no-cost coverage for prescription contraception since 2017. A true grassroots initiative that started as a frustrated conversation between friends at a kitchen table, AccessBC has grown to include over 75 volunteers from across BC. The campaign’s call for universal no-cost prescription contraception has been endorsed by 36 BC municipalities and districts across BC, the Union of BC Municipalities, and a wide range of unions and civil society organisations.
Over the past several years, AccessBC has mobilised supporters from across BC to send tens of thousands of letters to MLAs and ministers, urging them to implement this important policy. With their success in BC, AccessBC has redoubled their efforts to support the development of grassroots campaigns for contraception coverage in provinces and territories across Canada.