Press Release - May 30, 2022
Summerland Supports Reproductive Justice
On April 11th, 2022, Summerland Council voted to send a letter of support to the provincial government, calling on it to make all prescription contraception free. Summerland is the 32nd 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, and Cranbrook. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) passed two resolutions supporting this policy at their 2020 Convention.
Free prescription contraception was endorsed by all three major political parties in the last provincial election and was a key component of the BCNDP’s platform. It was also included in Minister of Health Adrian Dix’s mandate letter. Despite this support, the policy was not included in the most recent provincial budget. As a result, the AccessBC Campaign has been working hard to keep up the pressure. This grassroots campaign, which was founded in Saanich in 2017, has been reaching out to municipalities to secure their support for free prescription contraception, and is also running a province-wide public letter campaign.
Currently, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, hormone injections as much as $180 per year, and an implant can cost $350. These costs are a significant barrier to accessing contraception for many people in BC, and fall disproportionately on women and people who can get pregnant.
Universal no-cost prescription contraception is revenue positive. A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that this policy could save the BC 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, and the Netherlands, which all subsidize prescription contraception in full, or in part. This policy also increases equality and improves health outcomes for infants and mothers, given the increased risks associated with unplanned pregnancies, among other things.
“The pandemic has shown barriers and inequities experienced by youth, low income earners or those in equity-deserving communities when accessing health care in BC,” said Summerland Mayor Toni Boot. “The District of Summerland Council wholeheartedly supports AccessBC’s work in urging the Province to make all prescription contraception universally available at no cost under the BC Medical Services Plan.”
“As the right to reproductive planning is under attack in the US, now is the time for the BC NDP to solidify and implement their election promise to make all forms of prescription contraception free to British Columbians,” said Jessica L. Jimmo, Municipal Council Outreach Coordinator of the AccessBC Campaign. “We simply cannot wait any longer. More than ever, the pandemic has folks experiencing the gaps, barriers, and inequalities with respect to reproductive and sexual health, and BC is becoming increasingly unaffordable. With the District of Summerland’s vote, I am thrilled to see the support growing for AccessBC’s call for universal no-cost prescription contraception in the province.”
“The evidence is clear - unintended pregnancies are costly, both to our healthcare system and to patients directly,” said AccessBC Campaign Organizer 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.”
“Universal no-cost prescription contraception improves the health and wellbeing of families, improves gender equity and is a financially responsible decision that will save all taxpayers much needed income,” said Lisa Jensen, teacher and AccessBC Campaign member. “I believe that free access to contraception for all is needed to prevent harm to vulnerable and marginalized people in our society.”