Press Release - May 10, 2021
Fort St. John Endorses Free Prescription Contraception
On Monday, May 10, 2021, Fort St. John municipal council voted to send a letter of support to the provincial government, calling on it to make all prescription contraception universally available at no cost.
"I think the key to that is it is estimated the provincial government could save $95 million by implementing these policies,” said Councilor Trevor Bolin, who moved the motion, which passed unanimously.
Fort St. John is the 20th municipality/district to individually endorse universal, no-cost coverage of prescription contraception in the province. The growing list of municipalities includes Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kimberley, Squamish, New Westminster, Cranbrook, and many others. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) passed two resolutions supporting this policy at their 2020 Convention.
A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC could save the provincial government as much as $95 million per year. This pattern of savings has been seen in other jurisdictions, such as the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy and Germany, which all subsidize prescription contraception in full or in part.
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 to accessing contraception for many people in BC, and fall particularly on women and people who can get pregnant.
“It is vital for women and people with uteruses to have control over their reproductive health, and universal no-cost contraception will help provide that. I find it very disheartening that many people with uteruses are unable to afford contraception, while for men it is accessible at a low cost or is covered by MSP,” says Sarah Fisher, Fort St. John resident, U of A student, and member of the AccessBC Campaign Team. “It’s time for all British Columbians to have equal access to these services, for cost to be a barrier to contraception is unacceptable. I am incredibly happy to see my city support this policy as public support is what will increase our chances of seeing such a policy implemented.”
“The evidence is clear - unintended pregnancies are costly, both to our healthcare system and to patients directly,” said AccessBC committee member and Obstetrics and Gynaecology Resident Physician Ruth Habte. “Data has continued to demonstrate the cost saving effect of universal access to contraceptives, especially the hormonal intrauterine devices, an option currently out of reach for many patients due to cost.”
“I’m pleased to see the City of Fort St. John stepping up to support increasing access to prescription contraception, and I hope that the BC NDP will work quickly to fulfill its election promise to make all prescription contraception in the province free,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC Campaign Chair and co-founder. “This policy is long overdue in BC.”