Press Release - January 17, 2023
AccessBC Campaign Installs Billboard Calling for Free Prescription Contraception
This week, the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception installed a billboard along the Patricia Bay Highway just south of Mt. Newton Cross Road, outside of Victoria. This is the first time the grassroots campaign has advertised and it is hoping that the billboard, and additional planned ads in the lower mainland, will help mobilize the public to put additional pressure on the government prior to the 2023 budget.
“Free prescription contraception has been a longstanding government promise. It was in the Minister of Health’s most recent and previous mandate letters, but it has yet to be implemented. We need to put additional pressure on the government to make sure this important policy is in the upcoming budget,” says Sophie Choong, high school student and AccessBC’s Marketing Director who led the billboard fundraising campaign. “Our fundraising campaign was massively successful: we look forward to our advertisements bringing greater attention to the AccessBC cause, and we hope that it will help mobilize as wide a range of people as possible to pressure the government to include this important issue into the 2023 provincial budget.”
Currently, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost up to $500, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 a month, the implant up to $350, and hormone injections up to $180 per year. These costs have been exacerbated by the pandemic and fall particularly on women and people who can get pregnant, making this an issue of equity and affordability.
Not only does universal no-cost prescription contraception make life more affordable for people, but it will also save the government millions. A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC would save the government as much as $95 million per year.
“People accessing prescription contraception face inordinate and sometimes insurmountable costs, and these costs fall disproportionately on people who can get pregnant,” says Choong. “A system that prevents people from accessing healthcare necessary to make reproductive choices is a violent system. Free prescription contraception is long overdue in BC.”
“For the past 5 years, the AccessBC Campaign has been advocating for free prescription contraception, and this is our first foray into public advertising,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC Campaign Chair and co-founder. “I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who helped support our campaign and to our amazing campaign team, and I hope that 2023 is that last year that people will face cost as a barrier to accessing prescription contraception in BC.”
In addition to donations from members of the public, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), a national abortion rights group, helped support AccessBC’s billboard campaign.
“BC has an opportunity to lead the way, thereby encouraging other provinces to follow suit,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the ARCC. “BC can benefit from being the first province to showcase not just the cost-effectiveness of free contraception, but also its social justice benefits. The time to act is now.”
The ads were designed by Ariel Huo, a high school student at Semiahmoo Secondary. The ads will be up for the next three weeks, and AccessBC will be launching more ads around the lower mainland later this week.