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Government highlights next step to universal access to free contraceptives

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Today, at Snowdon Pharmacy in downtown Toronto, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, highlighted the government’s plan to rollout the first phase of national universal pharmacare—an initiative that will be a part of the upcoming Budget 2024. This plan will break down the barriers to access most prescription contraceptives and diabetes medication, while taking one step closer to achieving fairness for everyone.

With the tabling of the Pharmacare Act last month, the federal government is in the first phase of delivering a national pharmacare plan. This legislation paves the way to build a Canada that is not only equitable but more affordable for all. A national pharmacare plan means that every woman will have the right to choose if or when they would like to start a family.

The federal government recognizes that the financial cost of contraceptives, and medications for those who are diabetic, is one of the largest barriers to access. A universal pharmacare plan aims to diminish the divide between cost and need, while reducing financial barriers. It will allow for over nine million women to have better access to contraceptives, whether that is for family planning or medical treatment. This means every woman will have the ability to choose a contraceptive that is best for her, regardless of her ability to pay. In addition, improving access will help over 3.7 million Canadians who rely on diabetic medication, such as insulin, as a life-saving measure.

Quotes

“Women should have the autonomy to make their own choices about their health and their bodies. Our plan to make common contraceptives free—like birth control pills and IUDs, and even emergency contraception—will mean that, for nine million Canadian women, freedom of choice will be truly ‘free.’ And it means more Canadian women will have freedom of choice over their bodies and their lives.”

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

“Through this first phase of national universal pharmacare, women across the country will get access to the contraception and reproductive autonomy they deserve. We’re making sure women have the freedom to plan for their future and choose when they want to start a family. Canadians should never have to choose between their health and paying bills.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is pleased to stand alongside the federal government in today's announcement, reaffirming its dedication to women's healthcare in Canada. The SOGC has consistently advocated for a comprehensive contraceptive coverage policy because it empowers women to make informed choices about their reproductive health and their futures, including family planning, educational pursuits and workforce entry and re-entry. Access to contraception transcends reproductive rights and is a cornerstone of public health and equity. We believe that no individual should be prevented from accessing contraception due to income or where they live. Universal contraception coverage will produce immediate benefits for our society and have an intergenerational impact. This policy will ensure that women are empowered with tools to better control their futures and reproductive life plans.”

Dr. Amanda Black, President of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada’s Budget 2024 will be tabled in the House of Commons by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.
  • The federal government will work with provinces and territories to expand and enhance existing provincial and territorial spending on public drug benefit programs to provide for universal, single-payer, first-dollar coverage for a range of diabetes medications and contraception medications and devices.
    • This approach ensures that the unique needs and existing coverage plans of each province and territory are considered, advancing collaborative federalism where the federal, provincial, and territorial governments work together towards a common goal.
  • Typical cost per patient for select prescription contraceptives:
    • Oral birth control pills: up to $300 per year
    • Hormonal intrauterine device (IUD): up to $500 per unit
    • Copper intrauterine device (IUD): up to $100 per unit
    • Hormonal implant: Up to $300 per unit
    • Hormonal vaginal ring: up to $300 per year
    • Contraceptive injection: up to $150 per year
    • Emergency contraceptives: About $30 per dose

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