The Canadian province of British Columbia announced Tuesday that it will make prescription contraceptives free for all, a first in the country at a time when women’s rights are under attack in the neighbouring United States.
Upon presentation of a prescription, all people covered by health insurance will be able to obtain contraceptives free of charge as of April 1, the province’s finance minister Katrine Conroy said.
“When it comes to essentials, having full control over your reproductive rights is at the top of the list. All too often, these fundamental rights are under attack,” she said before the provincial parliament.
“Not here in B.C.,” she said.
“The days of passing down these costs to women and trans and non-binary people are coming to an end.”
Contraceptive methods covered will include most hormonal pills, implants, injections and intrauterine devices, such as the IUD, as well as the morning-after pill.
“This is a win for health and it’s a win for gender equity in our province,” Conroy said.
British Columbia’s government estimates that those who need birth control pills, which cost Can$25 ($18) a month, could save up to Can$10,000 over their lifetime under the new rules.
The western province follows several European countries, including France, Britain and Germany, which already partially or universally subsidise contraception.
The Canadian move to protect reproductive rights comes after the Supreme Court in the United States overturned women’s right to abortion.