Press Release - November 22, 2023
Reproductive Justice Advocates Celebrate Manitoba’s Commitment to Free Prescription Contraception
Reproductive justice advocates from across Canada are celebrating the government of Manitoba’s commitment to making prescription contraception free.
On Tuesday, November 22, in the Throne Speech, the government of Manitoba announced that it would be making prescription contraception free. While the Throne Speech did not include details, the Manitoba NDP’s election platform included a promise to “cover the full cost of dozens of commonly used birth-control methods, including oral contraceptives, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormonal injections and the morning-after pill.”
The cost of prescription contraception can be significant, and falls disproportionately on women and people who can get pregnant. A hormonal IUD can cost $500, an implant $350, oral contraceptive pills cost at least $240 per year, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. In addition to helping prevent unplanned pregnancies, people take contraception for a wide range of reasons, including treating chronic gynaecological conditions, like ovarian cysts and endometriosis, and gender affirming care.
Manitoba will become the second province in Canada to make prescription contraception free, following British Columbia, which rolled out the policy in April 2023. Studies have found that free prescription contraception is a revenue positive policy. A 2010 study by Options for Sexual Health estimated that the policy would save British Columbia $95 million a year.
Birth Control Access Manitoba has been advocating for universal, no-cost coverage for prescription contraception in Manitoba since 2021, when it was started by Dr. Helen Pymar and Dr. Sabrina Lee.
“In British Columbia we've seen how impactful free contraception has been, with more than 166,000 people able to access this basic healthcare since the policy was implemented,” said Devon Black, co-founder and national liaison for AccessBC, the campaign that successfully advocated for free prescription contraception in British Columbia. “We're thrilled at the success of our fellow advocates in Manitoba, and we look forward to when free contraception becomes a reality across Canada.”
"Manitoba has set an inspiring precedent as the first prairie province to commit to universal coverage of contraception. UACSask strongly believes that reproductive healthcare is a human right, and equitable access to contraception is a critical component. Nationwide change is necessary and we hope that Saskatchewan will be next," said Wardah Mahmood, co-founder, Universal Access to Contraception Saskatchewan (UACSask).
“This is a huge step for the people of Manitoba! We hope to see such advancements in Ontario, and look forward to the debate on universal access to prescription contraceptives in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the upcoming weeks,” Liz Thompson, Volunteer Political Advocacy Lead, CoverContraceptiON (Ontario).
"This is fantastic news for Manitoba and folks who have experienced barriers to this fundamental right for far too long. I am glad to see the government support the reproductive health of Manitobans and hope to see an expansive roll out of this policy in the near future," said Kennadie Chaudhary, former AccessBC Campaign Coordinator and Birth Control Access Manitoba Campaign Volunteer.
“Today's announcement is a victory for gender equality and reproductive justice in Manitoba. This is going to have enormous impacts for patients and health care providers across the province,” said Dr. Helen Pymar, Co-Founder of Birth Control Access Manitoba. “We’re elated that Manitoba has made reproductive justice a priority in this government's first Speech from the Throne.”
“Free prescription contraception is a fantastic policy that improves health outcomes, makes life more affordable, increases equality, and saves provincial governments millions,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Chair and Co-Founder of the AccessBC. “There is a growing movement for free prescription contraception across Canada, with active campaigns in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.”
In the Throne Speech, Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville said the following:
“Reproductive health care is a right. Our government will protect and affirm Manitobans’ right to access abortion services, protect abortion providers and make prescription birth control free.”
You can learn more about all of the campaigns across Canada here.
UACSask is a nonpartisan team of advocates whose mission is to ensure that women, non-binary individuals, and anyone who can get pregnant receives full coverage for contraception by the Government of Saskatchewan. Access to contraception is a human right, and it is our goal to minimize the cost barrier involved in accessing this essential service. For more information, please feel free to visit our website.
Birth Control Access Manitoba
Birth Control Access Manitoba is a grassroots province-wide campaign that advocates for universal no-cost prescription contraception in Manitoba. It was founded in 2021 and has flourished with support from AccessBC. As the second province in Canada to have universal no-cost contraception, we will support other Canadian provinces and territories in their campaigns for reproductive justice. You can find this campaign here.
Cover ContraceptiON is a grassroots, non-partisan, volunteer-run campaign with the goal of providing universal, no-cost contraception to all those in Ontario. The Cover ContraceptiON campaign started at the beginning of the pandemic, when a group of doctors at the University of Toronto recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic was intensifying pre-existing inequities among marginalized populations – those of low socioeconomic status, cultural minorities, Black and Indigenous peoples and residents of rural communities.
It has now grown to include other concerned professionals, community members and students. On World Contraception Day 2020 (September 26), a petition for universal contraception coverage gathered over 1000 signatures from healthcare providers across Ontario and was endorsed by 5 professional and non-profit organizations. Learn more here.