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Press Release  - June 4, 2024

AccessBC Campaign Calls on Senate to Pass Pharmacare Now


On June 3, 2024, Bill C-64 (An Act respecting pharmacare) passed third reading in the House of Commons, and this Bill is now moving to the Senate for consideration. The AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception has launched a national letter-writing campaign calling on the Senate to stand up for healthcare and pass Bill C-64 quickly and without amendment before the end of this legislative session. 

Bill C-64 would make access to prescription contraception and diabetes medication free for people across the country. It would extend and expand on the free prescription contraception policy that has been a major success in British Columbia, where more than 188,000 people received free prescription contraception in the first eight months after the program was implemented in April 2023.

“Cost remains the most significant barrier to people accessing prescription contraception across Canada, and costs fall disproportionately on women and people who can become pregnant,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, chair and co-founder of the AccessBC Campaign. “Free prescription contraception will make life more affordable, improve health outcomes, increase equality, and save governments millions.”
Currently, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $500, oral contraceptive pills can cost $240 per year, hormone injections as much as $180 per year, and an implant can cost $350. The barriers to accessing contraception have been exacerbated by rapidly rising costs of living.

A 2015 study in the Canadian Association Medical Journal estimated that providing universal, free contraception coverage across Canada would likely save nearly twice as much as the program would cost, in the direct medical costs associated with unintended pregnancy alone. 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 subsidize prescription contraception in full or in part.
“We’ve heard directly from patients and healthcare providers that free contraception access has been life-changing for people in British Columbia,” said Devon Black, AccessBC co-founder and national liaison. “Canadians should not have their basic healthcare limited by the province or territory in which they live. We all deserve to make the best choices for our health, without being limited by geography or by cost.”

“Patients cannot afford to wait any longer for no-cost contraceptive coverage,” said Dr. Ruth Habte, AccessBC Campaign Organizer and Obstetrics and Gynaecology resident physician. “The longer we wait, the more people are at risk for unplanned pregnancies and the resultant personal costs as well as costs to our healthcare system. Covering contraceptives nationally benefits everyone and is an equity based policy.”
“It is important that the Senate pass this bill quickly and without amendments, so that federal and provincial governments can start the work to implement this policy across the country,” said Phelps Bondaroff. “Every week it takes for this bill to be adopted is another week where Canadians will continue to face unnecessary barriers when trying to access prescription contraception – medicine they need to exercise reproductive autonomy and to stay happy, healthy, and alive.” 


Phelps Bondaroff and Black in front of Parliament with giant IUDs - 2.jpeg
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