NDP is calling on the government of Nova Scotia to liberalize prescription contraception
The leader of Nova Scotia’s New Democratic Party says it’s time for Tim Houston’s administration to introduce universal contraceptive coverage.
On Tuesday, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to announce that prescription contraception will become free for all residents.
“We think Nova Scotians should have exactly the same access,” said NDP leader Claudia Chender. “We now have an invoice on the order form that would do exactly the same here.”
That bill was introduced last year. Chender said the fact that the BC government has included it in their provincial budget proves it can and should be done in Nova Scotia.
“The reality is that BC has given us a path to show that it’s possible,” Chender said. “Any upstream healthcare intervention is welcome and it will help relieve pressure on the system downstream.”
The government of British Columbia has pledged $119 million over three years to implement their free birth control program starting April 1.
It will pave the way for full coverage of oral hormone pills, contraceptive injections, hormonal and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs), and subdermal implants. It also includes plan B, otherwise known as the morning-after pill.
Other groups in Nova Scotia have echoed the call, urging the provincial government to push for birth control.
“People with a uterus are fertile for almost 40 years, basically from 15 to 50,” says Dr. Martha Paynter, the research director of Wellness Within, a nonprofit reproductive justice organization.
“That’s a very long time to download a great responsibility and financial burden that can have so many implications for people’s lives and well-being.”
The Nova Scotia Pharmacare programs currently cover prescription contraception, but deductibles and co-payments may be required based on the program and insurance coverage, posing a barrier for some.
Houston’s Progressive Conservative government and the previous Liberal government have both said in the past that they are reviewing the issue, but neither has committed to fully funding birth control.
“The Department of Health and Welfare is continually reviewing how we provide prescription benefits to Nova Scotians,” provincial health minister Michelle Thompson said in an emailed statement.
“If any changes are made, we will be sure to communicate this to the public.”