Condoms are free and accessible and vasectomies are covered by MSP. However, prescription contraception is not covered. As Access BC writes, “free prescription contraception increases equality, improves health outcomes, and saves people and the government money!”
The BC NDP made a commitment for free contraception in their 2020 snap election platform. One year later, there is no program in place. When I asked Hon. Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, he says government is still studying the issue and will get it done before the end of the term.
It is unacceptable that this government is going to get around to this equity issue sometime in the next three years. This issue is not new, Access BC (click the link to learn more about their campaign) has been advocating directly with me and my colleagues for 3-4 years now!
Minister, there is nothing more to study here! Get on with it!
A. Olsen: One of the B.C. NDP platform planks from the election from last year was making contraception free. In their platform, the B.C. NDP stated: “Cost should not prevent individuals, particularly young people, from their right to make choices about their reproductive health. While condoms can be easily found for little or no cost, and vasectomies are covered by MSP, prescription contraception is not covered. It’s time to make contraception free for all.”
My question is to the Premier. It has been one year, and still no free contraception has been provided to British Columbians. When will this government fulfil its election promise?
Hon. A. Dix: The commitment of the Premier was personal. It was also in our election platform. It’s under, of course, review in terms of implementation. But it’s something that of course we support and intend to implement during this government.
Mr. Speaker: Saanich North and the Islands, supplemental.
A. Olsen: During this government. I’m assuming that the government is giving itself a three-year longer runway to review this. Certainly this has been an issue that AccessBC has been advocating with me as an MLA for the last three or four years. It’s an issue that AccessBC has been advocating for this government for three or four years. It was far more than just a personal promise made by the Premier. It was, as the Minister of Health noted, a commitment in their election platform.
My question, again, is to the Premier. When is his government going to do — as AccessBC put it: people in B.C. have been waiting for this for too long. When will British Columbians have free contraception? Will it be by 2022?
Hon. A. Dix: We are continuing to work, and it’s our absolute intention to implement the commitments made by the Premier, the government and the New Democratic Party. In this respect, as we have said and as we’ve shown since the beginning of our mandate we have taken, I think, extraordinary efforts to make all prescription drugs available, especially to those who are the most vulnerable in our society — 105,000 British Columbians benefitted from our changes to PharmaCare deductible.
We continue to take steps to both save money on PharmaCare and then apply that money to support people and give them more access to the prescription drugs they need. We’ll continue to do so. As noted to the hon. member, we fully intend to follow through on that commitment.