BC NDP promises free female contraception at a cost of $60M annually

Plan could cost $60 million, period poverty task force pledged

Prescription female contraception products will be free under a re-elected NDP government at a cost of about $60 million a year, Burnaby-Lougheed Katrina Chen said Oct. 11

Chen said while condoms are relatively cheap or free and vasectomies are covered under MSP, women must currently bear the costs of contraception they need.

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“This is about fairness,” Chen said. “For too long, the cost of contraception has fallen disproportionately on the backs of women, trans and non-binary people.”

Chen said a shift to coverage of such costs could save someone as much as $10,000 over their lifetime, or $260 per year, while the lifetime savings for someone using an intrauterine device (IUD) could be upwards of $3,000.

Chen did not answer when asked what government financial pocket the money would come from to cover the millions.

“This is a gender and fairness issue,” said Dr. Ruth Habte, a UBC gynaecology and obstetrics resident and member of ACCESS, a group advocating removal of barriers to contraception access.

Katrina Chen
Burnaby-Lougheed NDP candidate Katrina Chen says giving women free contraception is an issue of gender fairness. - BC NDP

Habte said unwanted pregnancies are a significant cost for the provincial government. And she said, avoiding pregnancies means paying for prescription contraception.
“The costs usually falls on the person with a uterus and that’s not really fair,” Habte said.

Chen said the NDP has already moved to assist women with reproductive health in providing free menstrual products in schools. She said a re-elected NDP government would continue that work with a period poverty task force to develop solutions for further improving access to menstrual products to reduce costs to women.



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