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Ontario NDP hopes Doug Ford government will support free birth control


The Ontario NDP is hoping the Doug Ford government will support a motion to provide coverage for birth control under OHIP.

The motion was first introduced on International Women’s Day in March and hopes to cover oral hormone pills, contraceptive injections, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), subdermal implants, and Plan B.

“There's no doubt that lowering the barriers to accessing contraception can have a huge impact on people's ability to have control over their family plans and their bodies,” NDP Leader Marit Stiles told reporters on Thursday.

“It's long overdue, and it's just common sense.”

Free contraception was a key part of the NDP’s 2022 election platform. Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) currently covers contraception for individuals under the age of 25, as long as they aren’t also covered by a private plan.

Recipients of Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Programs may also qualify for free contraception.

“This isn't just about health, it's a matter of gender equality,” MPP Jennie Stevens, who tabled the motion, said.

Advocates at Queen’s Park Thursday said that ensuring women don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars a year on birth control will offer more protection for victims of sexual violence, provide women with autonomy over reproductive health, and act as yet another step towards gender equality.

“In abusive relationships, violence often escalates during pregnancy,” Krista MacNeil, Executive Director of Victim Services of Durham Region, said.

“The cost of unwanted pregnancies in Canada [is] in excess of $320 million. By contrast, no-cost contraception represents a fraction of that cost and the lives of women are worth this investment.”

British Columbia became the first province in Canada to offer free prescription birth control in April, spending $119 million over the next three years.

Data released earlier this month show that about 166,000 people in the province benefited from the program between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Manitoba also announced this week in a throne speech that it will be moving forward with free contraception.

The NDP says the B.C. legislation has already resulted in tens of millions of dollars of savings compared to the cost of the program, although they were unable to put a price tag on their motion.

A spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones did not commit to supporting the call for free contraception, but did say the minister met with Stevens and looks forward to reviewing the motion.

"Our government supports access to free, publicly funded contraceptives for over 6 million Ontarians through the Ontario Drug Benefit program and OHIP+."

The motion, which is largely symbolic and would not change legislation, is expected to be debated next week. Top Stories

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