VANCOUVER – B.C.’s New Democrats are promising free prescription contraception if elected, saying the move will help residents save money.
NDP candidate Katrina Chen says the issue is about equality for women, non-binary and transgender people.
“This is not just only about making life better and affordable for people. It is about fairness, it is about gender equity and something that are NDP government has been working really, really hard for during the past few years,” she says.
— Tarnjit Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) October 11, 2020
Chen says condoms can be found for little or no cost, and vasectomies are covered under the B.C. medical services plan, but prescription contraception is not covered.
The party says the program to provide, for example, oral contraceptive pills or intrauterine devices will cost the government $60 million a year.
Chen adds the move to make prescription contraception free is a continuation of the government’s effort to have free menstrual products in the bathrooms of all public schools.
The NDP also plans on creating a “period poverty” task force to develop solutions for further improving access to menstrual products.
Dr. Ruth Habte, a UBC gynecology and obstetrics resident and member of ACCESS, also adds the policy also “makes good economic sense.”
“If we were to prevent these pregnancies in the first place by offering no-cost contraception to patients we would actually save the government, a lot of money. We also know that it’s an equality issue,” she says.
According to Chen people spend $10,000 in their lifetime on birth control, and about $3,000 on IUDs.
Habte says prescription contraception for people who have uteruses is usually a cost usually that falls on the person with the uterus.
“I just believe that that’s unfair,” she says.
“Patients who are in abusive relationships, who have no control over the money in their household. I’m talking about people who are from a low socioeconomic status, who unfortunately have a pharmacare deductible that’s too high for them to reach but they are barely making ends meet to begin with, I’ve seen all of these patients I’ve taken care of all of these patients, and I’ve seen their struggles. So, I’m very happy to see that we were able to put in this policy where people would have access to no-cost contraception.”