Press Release - March 29, 2023
AccessBC Campaign Celebrates Beginning of Free Prescription Contraception in BC!
AccessBC is delighted that British Columbia has become the first jurisdiction in Canada to make all prescription contraception free.
On April 1, 2023, prescription contraception will be made free to all British Columbia residents. The 2023 provincial budget has 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).
An IUD can cost up to $500, oral contraceptive pills cost at least $240 per year, an implant can cost $350, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. These costs are a significant barrier to accessing contraception for many.
“Making contraception free is a major victory for gender equality and reproductive justice in British Columbia, especially for patients struggling to access the contraceptive of their choice,” said AccessBC Campaign Organizer and Obstetrics and Gynaecology Resident Physician Ruth Habte. “We’re elated that British Columbia has made history and become the first province in Canada to make contraception free.”
BC’s leadership has inspired a movement across the country. Grassroots campaigns are now pushing for free prescription contraception in Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and most recently in Saskatchewan. And political parties in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon have made their own commitments to implementing universal free contraception coverage.
“We’re thrilled that after six years of advocacy from our volunteers and supporters across the province, free prescription contraception is now a reality in BC,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC Campaign Chair and Co-founder. “I am proud that our efforts are helping to inspire change across the country, and grateful to all of the advocates who are stepping up and pushing for reproductive justice. Everyone deserves access to prescription contraception.”
“If BC can implement free contraception, so can every province and territory in Canada,” said Kalea Rempel, a Saskatchewan medical student and co-founder of Universal Access to Contraception Saskatchewan (UACSask). “People in Saskatchewan should be able to access this basic medical care just as easily as our neighbours in BC.”
“Prescription contraception should be free for all people in Canada, from coast to coast to coast,” said Dr. Martha Paynter, who advocates for free prescription contraception in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick through Wellness Within and the New Brunswick Abortion Care Network. “Contraception access improves health outcomes for parents and children, gives people control over their reproductive choices, and reduces inequality in one fell swoop. The only question now is why this isn’t already a policy nation-wide.”
“With a provincial election coming in Manitoba this fall, voters should know this issue is on the ballot,” said Dr. Helen Pymar, a Winnipeg-based obstetrician/gynaecologist/family planning specialist and co-founder of Birth Control Access for Manitoba. “The Manitoba NDP has committed to implementing universal coverage for prescription contraception if they’re elected. Now it’s time for other parties to step up and do the same.”
“We’re so excited to see this policy come into effect in BC, and we’re doing our best to make sure Ontario is next,” said Dr. Nour Bakhache, resident physician and co-founder of Cover ContraceptiON, which advocates for free prescription contraception coverage in Ontario. “It’s time for free prescription contraception in Ontario.”
With Alberta’s provincial election set for May 29, 2023, prescription contraception has also become an important issue for voters there. While the policy has been endorsed by the Alberta NDP and Alberta Liberal parties, the United Conservative Party has resisted calls to make prescription contraception free. Nearly three-quarters of Albertans support free prescription contraception.
Information about the policy will work from the Government of BC, overview, and a deeper dive.