Canada’s Pharmacare Plan Should Provide Access to All Forms of Contraception

In 2021, the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) made a pledge to continue progress toward a universal national pharmacare program over the course of their “supply and confidence” agreement.

To move this promise forward, the government has committed to passing a Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of 2023 as well as establish a national formulary which is a list that will identify which drugs will be cost covered as essential medicines under the plan.

Action Canada campaigned for the introduction of this program and believes it has the potential to change the lives of people across Canada, particularly for marginalized people who are falling through the cracks of our existing health care system.

We strongly urge that the national formulary for Canada’s new pharmacare program include universal contraceptive coverage to ensure that cost is not a barrier to choosing contraceptive methods that works best for individuals’ life and health circumstances and that everyone is able to enjoy better sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

Facts about contraception in Canada

  • 1 in 5 Canadians have insufficient or no drug coverage. This lack of coverage disproportionately affects marginalized communities with young people, 2SLGBTQ+ people, undocumented people, immigrants, and people of colour most likely to have difficulty accessing contraception or see their choices constrained.
  • An intrauterine device (IUD) can cost between $75 to $400, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month (adding up to $240 a year), and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. These costs are a significant barrier to accessing contraception for many people across Canada and fall particularly on women and people who can get pregnant.
  • Right now, Canada is the only country with universal health care that does not offer coverage for prescription drugs, including contraceptives. While some countries offer partial coverage which reduces costs and helps ensure more people can access contraception, such reduced coverage still leaves many people behind. In New Zealand, where only partial coverage is offered, there are still high rates of unintended pregnancies, especially notable among marginalized people.
  • Roughly one in five half of pregnancies in Canada are unintended, costing the Canadian health systems millions of dollars annually. Studies have estimated that providing universal contraception coverage could see that entire amount saved in as little as six to twelve months.
  • Equitable access to contraception is a universal human right and it is also a key to realizing public health goals, reducing health care costs and achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and people who can be pregnant.

 

Posted on 2022-11-14
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