REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Status of Women Critic Jennifer Bowes announced the Sask. NDP’s commitment to implementing the British Columbia model for universal no-cost coverage for prescription contraceptives and called on the Sask. Party government to do the same.
“Women deserve to have control of their lives and removing the cost barrier to contraceptives will help do just that,” said Bowes. “Universal no-cost coverage for prescription contraceptives will save taxpayer money and help women fully participate in our economy. This is healthcare, a cost-saver and a no-brainer.”
The Official Opposition was joined at the Legislature by medical students and doctors who spoke to the far-reaching benefits of this policy, including better health outcomes, reduced expenses and a stronger economy.
“Contraception is a human right and we in Saskatchewan should ensure that this right is no longer limited by prohibitive costs. Free universal prescription contraception would allow for exactly that,” stated Universal Access to Contraception Saskatchewan, a student advocacy group made up of medical students from the University of Saskatchewan. “As medical students, we witness the impact of inequitable access to healthcare resources and believe this initiative can help make a difference for our communities. It is our belief that collective action from our population will help shape this healthcare matter into one that cannot be ignored.”
The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada estimated that the direct cost of unintended pregnancies in Canada is more than $320 million, while the Canadian Medical Association Journal said the cost of a national contraceptive coverage program would be less than half of that at $157 million.
“The health and societal benefits of covering prescription contraceptives at no cost will drastically improve health outcomes here in Saskatchewan. We have seen a significant increase in the uptake of effective contraceptive methods in jurisdictions that have removed these cost barriers. Access to effective contraception leads to fewer unintended pregnancies which in turn leads to fewer pregnancy terminations and fewer miscarriages,” said Dr. Christine Lett, Regina Area Department Lead of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“The good news is that the return on investment is outstanding. A cost analysis of universal publicly funded family planning in the U.S. demonstrated that for every dollar spent on family planning, the system saved over seven dollars. It’s time we start to seriously discuss universal no-cost contraception in Saskatchewan,” Lett added.
The Provincial Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Section of the Saskatchewan Medical Association are also strongly in favour of no-cost prescription contraception.