Vancouver – On September 23rd, municipalities from across BC voted in support of free prescription contraception across the province. An overwhelming majority of delegates at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention voted to support two resolutions, submitted by the cities of Victoria and Burnaby, calling on the provincial government to make all prescription contraception in BC available at no cost under the Medical Services Plan.
“We’re thrilled to receive this statement of support from municipalities across the province,” said Devon Black, co-founder of the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception. “The passage of this motion is a testament to the efforts of our supporters, who brought this issue to the attention of their municipal councillors and pushed them to raise it at this year’s UBCM meeting.”
UBCM’s endorsement of universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC follows similar endorsements by Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kimberley, Squamish, Cranbrook, and New Westminster calling on the province to make prescription contraception available to all BC residents at no cost.
“Universal access to contraception should be a basic human right. The ability to make decisions about one’s body should not be dictated by whether or not they can afford it,” said Victoria Councillor, Jeremy Loveday.
“I was more than happy to lend a hand to help push this initiative forward, as it is important that everyone who needs it, has free access to contraceptives,” said Burnaby Councilor Joe Keithley.
This motion passed by UBCM builds on motion B115, passed in 2015, in which UBCM called on the Province to investigate a model of publicly funded birth control similar to those offered in European countries. The UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy, and Germany are among the countries that subsidize prescription contraception in full or in part.
Currently, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. These costs are a significant barrier to accessing contraception for many people in BC, and result in increased medical costs for both BC residents and the provincial health system. A 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health estimated that providing universal, no-cost contraception coverage in BC could save the provincial government as much as $95 million in direct medical costs per year.
“Programs that offer universal no-cost prescription contraception not only make life more affordable for people, but they save governments money,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Chair and co-founder of the AccessBC Campaign. “The cost of offering prescription contraception at no cost is considerably lower than the costs associated with unintended pregnancy. It’s inspiring to see municipal governments stepping up and lending their voice to support this long overdue policy.”
“It’s time for the province to fix the gender inequality that has been built into the structure of our provincial health system,” said Black. “We’re glad to be able to add UBCM to the chorus of individuals and organizations across BC calling on the government to fix the gender inequality that is currently built into our provincial health system.”
The resolutions were adopted just prior to World Contraception Day, Saturday, September 26th. You can read AccessBC’s joint statement with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada for World Contraception Day here.