Press Release - January 22, 2023
AccessBC Campaign Installs Skytrain Ads Calling for Free Prescription Contraception
This week, the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception installed transit ads across the lower mainland. The campaign hopes that these ads, along with a billboard in Victoria that went up last week, will help mobilize the public to put additional pressure on the government prior to the 2023 budget.
The ads can be found at the following Skytrain stations: Burquitlam, Coquitlam Central, Inlet, Lougheed Town Centre, and Production Way-University.
“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,” says Sophie Choong, high school student and AccessBC’s Marketing Director, who led the fundraising campaign for the transit ads and billboard. “Though the response we received from the Premier last week was encouraging and we applaud the government's commitment to this policy, we want action, and we want free prescription contraception to be included in the 2023 provincial budget.”
“We hope that our advertisements will bring greater attention to the AccessBC cause,” says Choong. “Through public advertising, our goal is to reach as wide an audience as possible to pressure the government to follow through on its election promise and commitment to reproductive justice, and make 2023 the last year that British Columbians have to pay out of pocket for prescription contraception.”
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,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC Campaign Chair and co-founder. “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.”
“The costs of accessing prescription contraception fall disproportionately on people who can get pregnant,” says Choong. “And the most reliable forms of contraception are also the most expensive. We should not tolerate a system where people are forced to make life-changing decisions about their bodies and long-term health based on what they can or cannot afford. Free prescription contraception is long overdue in BC.”
“For the past 5 years, the AccessBC Campaign has been advocating for free prescription contraception, the ads popping up around the province should be seen as a signal to the provincial government that the time to fulfil their election promise to make all prescription contraception free is now,” says Phelps Bondaroff. “I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who helped support our campaign and to our amazing campaign team. Free prescription contraception will improve health outcomes for infants and mothers, make life more affordable, increase equality, and save the government millions.”
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 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 billboard and transit ads were designed by Ariel Huo, a high school student at Semiahmoo Secondary. The ads will be up for the next three weeks.