When the first full platform announcement in the B.C. election dropped this week, there was one promise in particular that stood out to a local advocacy group.
Teale Phelps Bondaroff and Devon Black, co-founders of AccessBC, have been advocating for free contraception for four years, and they may get it with an NDP government.
John Horgan’s party says they will provide birth control for free under MSP if re-elected.
They are the first party to make this type of promise, but Phelps Bondaroff and Black say the idea is non-partisan.
“We are certainly hoping that the Greens and the Liberals will also include something like this in their platform, if for no other reason than it’s a good policy,” said Black in an interview with Victoria Buzz.
“It’s one of those rare ones that’s a win on a variety of fronts.”
The two Vancouver Island locals co-founded AccessBC in late 2016 as a means of educating the public and lobbying politicians to adopt contraception in their policies.
Since then they have engaged in letter-writing, social media campaigns, and other initiatives to bring MLAs and prominent leaders to the table.
Black says that many have been receptive to the idea, though some people remain resistant to change.
“It’s just inertia,” said Black. “People think that’s the way it should be. People don’t see it as an issue of equality, they see it as an issue of ‘special rights.’”
That belief couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Black and Phelps Bondaroff.
They say that implementing universal contraception could save B.C. taxpayers as much as $95 million in health care and associated costs.
The issue is also tied to intimate partner violence and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Access to contraception has been impacted by COVID,” said Phelps Bondaroff.
“There are two groups of people who are particularly vulnerable: young people, and people who are experiencing intimate partner violence. Anecdotally, many of our volunteers work in the Health Care system and are seeing folks who are struggling to access contraception.”
With the BC NDP announcement, AccessBC are hoping to see their policy made a reality, while they also expand efforts into other provinces.
Phelps Bondaroff says a sister campaign, CoverContraceptiON, launched in Ontario on September 26 to coincide with World Contraception Day.
Black adds that regardless of who wins in the BC election, AccessBC will keep pushing for access to free, universal contraception.
“We’ll keep on fighting,” said Black.
“This is a policy that would improve the lives of people in British Columbia. Every party should be able to stand for that.”