Province recognizes International Women’s Day, takes action on gender equity
On International Women’s Day, the B.C. government is promoting gender equity through actions such as providing free contraceptives for all, introducing pay transparency legislation and the Intimate Images Protection Act.
Beginning April 1, 2023, people will benefit from improved access to contraceptives as the Province implements a universal coverage plan making them free for residents of B.C.
“The monthly or upfront costs for contraception can add up and be prohibitive, especially for people with low incomes, youth and people from equity-seeking communities,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Universal coverage of prescription contraceptives means that people will face fewer obstacles in taking charge of their reproductive health.”
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said: “Everyone should be able to make their own choices about their reproductive health without being limited or burdened by cost. I’m proud that B.C. will be the first province in Canada to offer free prescription contraception.”
BC PharmaCare will cover the full cost of more than 60 commonly used birth-control methods, including oral contraceptives, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormonal injections and the morning-after pill.
For example, under the new universal contraceptive plan, an oral contraceptive pill costing $25 a month will be free, saving a person $300 a year. Removing the financial barriers for multiple forms of contraception is putting British Columbia at the forefront of reproductive justice in Canada.
“The B.C. government made history by becoming the first province in Canada to make all prescription contraception free,” said Dr. Ruth Habte, AccessBC. “As a former pharmacist and current OBGYN resident physician at UBC, I see every day how the lack of access to contraception derails life plans and affects patients’ health. This policy empowers folks to exert their reproductive rights, promotes gender equality and improves health outcomes. I am proud to represent AccessBC, a grassroots reproductive justice campaign that has worked tirelessly over the past six years to realize universal no-cost contraception in B.C. We hope that B.C.’s leadership will inspire change across the country.”
Studies have shown that approximately 40% of pregnancies in B.C. are unintended. Increased access to a wide range of effective contraceptives supports people in planning and spacing out their pregnancies.
“Free birth control enables women to prioritize their health without letting costs compromise their choices – it just makes sense,” said Premier David Eby. “This week we’ve also introduced pay transparency to help close the gender pay gap, and legislation to crack down on predators who share intimate images without consent. Equity for women is a top priority for our government.”
The cost of implementing universal coverage of contraceptives is $119 million over three years, with the first year of implementation expected to cost PharmaCare $39.4 million, $46.1 million for the second year, and $33.4 million for the third year.
Building on previous actions taken to expand the scope of practice of pharmacists in October 2022, pharmacists will be able to prescribe contraceptives this spring.
Improving access to contraception is part of the Province’s Budget 2023, which invests in things that matter most to help build a stronger, more secure B.C., and government’s commitment to make health care more affordable and accessible for all people in B.C.
The Province recently introduced new legislation to better protect people from having their intimate images shared without their consent, as well as pay transparency legislation to help close B.C.’s gender pay gap, which is one of the largest in Canada.
To learn more about what is covered, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/contraceptives
For more information about the pay transparency legislation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023FIN0017-000274
To learn more about the Intimate Images Protection Act, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023AG0012-000271