Birth control should be free for Canadians, NDP MP says

Canadians should have access to free contraceptives, argues a new motion by a New Democrat MP. Getty Images

Prescription birth control should be free in Canada, according to New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen, who is lobbying the Liberals to adopt her new motion and make it law.

Contraceptives are a part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and should be free, argues Motion M-65. Not only could free contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies, it would also save money.

“The government should…recognize individuals’ right to access a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health services, including a range of modern methods of contraception, free from barriers.”

READ MORE: Gender price gouging: why women often pay more than men

The cost of birth control can be prohibitive for many Canadians, while in more than 25 countries birth control is subsidized or free, Mathyssen argues.

Free birth control is key for Canadians being able to make “informed decisions regarding their reproductive choices.”

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The motion also pushes for a commitment to improved tracking of sexual health indicators, including contraceptive use, “to inform sound policy decisions relating to sexual and reproductive health.”

WATCH: Birth control myths and truths

Last year, Mathyssen successfully pushed the Conservatives to kill the tampon tax.

Before the change, feminine hygiene products were subject to GST, while food, children’s clothing and other miscellaneous items such as contact lenses are not.

READ MORE: Is tax on tampons discriminatory?

The MP has also launched a petition in support of free prescription birth control, calling on Ottawa to work with the provinces to cover the cost of contraceptives.

The petition makes the case that among heterosexual Canadians not intending to conceive, 15 per cent use no birth control. Canadians are instead relying on the “withdrawal” method, which it states is the “third most used contraceptive in Canada.”

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Nearly a quarter of Canadians (24 per cent) don’t have access to a subsidized drug plan. Meanwhile, subsidized contraceptives have been proven to be cost-beneficial by reducing costs associated with unintended pregnancies in areas of the U.S. and Great Britain.

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