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Green MLA calls on province to deliver free contraception, as promised

Contraception is a basic human right that the NDP government promised to make free in 2020, a promise it has yet to act upon, Green MLA Adam Olsen said Tuesday.
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Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, wants the provincial government to provide free prescription contraception by the end of the year. Via B.C. legislature video

Contraception is a basic human right that the NDP government promised to make free in 2020, a promise it has yet to act upon, Green MLA Adam Olsen said Tuesday.

“In British Columbia, contraception is a privilege unaffordable to many,” said Olsen, who represents Saanich North and the Islands.

An intra-uterine contraceptive device costs between $75 and $380, while oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, or $240 annually. A hormone injection can cost $180 per year, said Olsen during question period in the B.C. legislature.

“While cisgender men like me can get a lifetime supply of free or near-free condoms, [and] my vasectomy is covered by MSP, other British Columbians must find a walk-in clinic, deal with doctors who may be poorly informed on reproductive health, and shell out hundreds of dollars — all to access this human right,” said Olsen, who asked the government to commit to fulfilling the promise by the end of the year.

In 2020, the NDP promised if re-elected to deliver free prescription contraception to all British Columbians, “yet, we’ve seen two provincial budgets come and go without free contraception.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the the government intends to implement the policy “in the time of this government — we made the commitment and we’re going to follow through on that commitment.”

The provision of free contraception was in the mandate letter from B.C.’s premier to the health minister.

Dix said the government delivered on its promise to reduce PharmaCare premiums for those who could least afford it “and we will deliver on this.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com