Birth control pills, contraception. (Pixabay)

Cranbrook and Kimberley Councils support initiative calling on BC Gov. to cover prescription contraception

On September 14, 2020, Cranbrook City Council unanimously passed a motion calling on the provincial government to cover all prescription contraception at no cost under the BC Medical Services Plan. Kimberley City Council passed the same motion at their August 2020 meeting.

“I’m very happy to see rural municipal support of this important issue,” said Dr. Katelyn Mudry, a local naturopathic physician and member of the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception, who led efforts to get this motion before council.

“The barriers to access of prescription contraception are multi-faceted and a lot of those are highly dependent on municipal resources,” Mudry continued. “Our local councils have recognized this and I see their support as a great way to connect municipal and provincial health and well being.”

Cranbrook is the seventh BC municipality to endorse universal, no-cost coverage of prescription contraception in the province, following Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kimberley, Squamish, and New Westminster.

“I realize that health care is a provincial responsibility,” said Councillor Norma Blissett. “This is really an issue of poverty and as a city we deal with the repercussions of poverty every day.”

“The message from the Cranbrook Council is clear: our public health care system is falling short. We need the province to commit to providing universal no-cost access to prescription contraception,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, co-founder and committee chair of AccessBC.

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 per year. That pattern of savings has been seen in other jurisdictions, such as the U.K., France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy and Germany, which all 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.

“We know that people with uteruses pay disproportionately high costs for both contraception and to deal with unplanned pregnancies,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “Meanwhile, vasectomies are covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan and condoms are handed out for free. This is an obvious gender inequality that should not be built into the structure of our provincial health system.”

The motion comes a week before the meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) which will consider two resolutions (from Victoria and Burnaby) calling on the provincial government to make prescription contraception in the province available at no cost under MSP.

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