Monday, July 22, 2024

BC-based free contraception advocates plead Senate to pass pharmacare bill


On Monday, June 3rd, the House of Commons passed the third reading of the Liberals’ and New Democrats’ joint efforts on a free pharmacare bill, Bill C-64. 

Now the bill moves on to the Senate for consideration. 

If passed, this bill would allow for all women to access free contraception medications and devices. It would also allow those with diabetes to access free medication.

AccessBC is a grassroots organization who have been advocating for free contraception in British Columbia for years and is chaired and co-founded by Saanich Councillor Teale Phelps Bondaroff.

Following the successful implementation of BC’s free contraception legislation in April of last year, AccessBC set their sights on assisting nation-wide efforts to pass free contraception policies in every province and territory. 

Now that the notion they have been advocating for has been passed through the House on a federal level, they have started a letter-writing campaign to plead the senate to pass Bill C-64. 

“Cost remains the most significant barrier to people accessing prescription contraception across Canada, and costs fall disproportionately on women and people who can become pregnant,” said Phelps Bondaroff. 

“Free prescription contraception will make life more affordable, improve health outcomes, increase equality, and save governments millions.”

As of this publication, an intrauterine device (IUD) costs an average of between $75 and $500, oral contraceptive pills cost up to $240 a year, hormone injections are up to $180 a year and an implant can cost $350.

AccessBC says that as prices are rising all around Canadians, for nearly everything, access to contraception is becoming increasingly more difficult. 

The organization pointed to a 2015 study which estimated that if Canada were to have free universal contraception policies in place, it would save nearly twice as much as it would in costs associated with unintended pregnancies alone. 

“It is important that the Senate pass this bill quickly and without amendments, so that federal and provincial governments can start the work to implement this policy across the country,” said Phelps Bondaroff. 

“Every week it takes for this bill to be adopted is another week where Canadians will continue to face unnecessary barriers when trying to access prescription contraception – medicine they need to exercise reproductive autonomy and to stay happy, healthy, and alive.”


When it comes to diabetes, those who have the chronic disease and need to pay for insulin and other associated medical devices spend an average of $1,500 per year, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). 

The CDA says that typically those with Type 1 diabetes spend more than those with Type 2, and if an insulin pump is required, the costs of having the disease increase drastically. 

In addition to Phelps Bondaroff and AccessBC advocating for this bill to be passed by the senate and implemented across the country, Victoria MP, Laurel Collins has been a vehement advocate for free pharmacare, as all NDP members have been. 

The Conservative Party, despite their best efforts, tried to keep this bill from passing in the House, along with the Bloc Quebecois.

In the end the bill passed through the house with 165 yeas, 145 nays and 10 paired votes. 

Curtis Blandy

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