Reproductive Rights Advocates Applaud the Manitoba NDP Commitment to No-Cost Prescription Contraception

For immediate release

NATIONAL – Yesterday, the Manitoba New Democratic Party announced that they would commit to universal coverage for contraception if elected to government in fall 2023. This announcement comes just two weeks after the British Columbia government announced that as of April 1st, it would make prescription contraception free to all residents, becoming the first province in Canada to do so.

The Manitoba NDP’s plan would cover the cost of oral contraceptives, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), subdermal implants, hormonal injections and the morning-after pill. According to the NDP, the cost to implement the universal coverage of select contraceptives is $11 million per year.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), a national advocacy group for reproductive rights, applauded the announcement. “Universal access ensures that people can choose whether or when to have children, meaning they have greater autonomy and agency over their bodies and futures,” said Paige Mason, president of ARCC. “Free contraception empowers people with the ability to choose a contraceptive that is tailored to their lives and circumstances.”

Mason, who is also an advocate for the group Birth Control Access of Manitoba, noted that the Alberta and Ontario NDP parties have also committed to no-cost contraception if elected, while the Saskatchewan NDP has expressed strong support for BC’s new program. “The costs for providing free prescription contraception are considerably lower than costs associated with unintended pregnancy, so provinces will save money too, not just people who use contraception,” said Mason.

“Access to contraceptives is a basic human right and should be easily accessible. By providing free birth control and removing the financial barrier, we are taking a gendered and human rights lens to sexual and reproductive health care,” said Nahanni Fontaine, MLA for St. Johns Manitoba and NDP Status of Women critic.

“Money should never be a barrier to accessing health care. Birth control is a part of health care, whether you’re using it to prevent pregnancy or for a range of health reasons,” said Uzoma Asagwara, MLA for Union Station and NDP Health critic. “This commitment would help keep Manitobans healthy, benefit our economy, and support our health care system as a whole.”

Currently, Manitoba has programs that offer free birth control; however, these are only offered in urban centres and are income-dependent, creating a barrier for rural and northern communities and those who do not meet the income cut-off. Implementing no-cost contraception will improve access for thousands of Manitobans as cost remains the most significant barrier for contraception usage, particularly for low-income people, youth, and marginalized communities.

“ARCC celebrates this step towards reproductive justice in Manitoba. We call on all parties in Manitoba to commit to no-cost contraception before the election scheduled for October 3rd,” said Paige Mason of ARCC.

Media Contacts:

Joyce ArthurExecutive Director / Directrice générale,
ARCC-CDAC, Vancouver
Paige MasonPresident / Présidente, ARCC-CDAC, Winnipeg.  
Also with / également partie à la campagne : Access Manitoba Free Birth Control
Carolyn EganBoard member / Directeur du conseil d’administration, ARCC-CDAC, Toronto.
Also with/ également partie de la :
Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics
Galya BravoBoard member /Directeur du conseil d’administration, ARCC-CDAC, Montréalbravogalya@gmail.com514-663-2596
Tasia AlexopoulosARCC-CDAC, New Brunswick /
Christopher Kaposy, PhDEthicist, Memorial University /
Éthicien, Université Memorial,
St. Johns NL / T.-N.
christopher.kaposy@med.mun.ca709-864-3375 (w / bur.)
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