Ontario NDP promises to cover prescription birth control under OHIP if elected

The Ontario NDP is promising that the province would fully cover prescription birth control if the party wins the June 2 election.

Leader Andrea Horwath says her plan would cover all prescription contraception, including emergency birth control such as Plan B, the pill, intrauterine devices, implants, shots, patches and rings.

“It really does gather up, when it comes to the affordability of everyday life, when you’re paying…your student loans off, you’re paying high rents, you’re trying to make ends meet in the ever increasing costs of everyday life in this province,” Horwath said.

“And on top of it, you’re paying 30 bucks a month for your contraception.”

The plan would cost about $60 million a year, the NDP said.

OHIP already covers vasectomies and tubal ligations.

Dr. Hava Starkman, a cofounder of the advocacy group Cover ContraceptiON, joined Horwath at the announcement Thursday and said the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified inequities faced by marginalized groups of people, and this universal coverage would help.

“We see these impacts firsthand in the lives of our patients that cannot access care. The cost of contraception prevents them from getting necessary medical support and detrimentally impacts their quality of life,” said Starkman, a resident physician in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Toronto.

“We strongly believe that access to timely, affordable contraception is a pillar of reproductive human rights.”

Province has programs to help cover costs: Elliott

The Ontario Liberals have proposed providing free menstrual products in schools, libraries, transit stations and other public spaces, as part of a slate of campaign promises aimed at women.

The Progressive Conservative government announced last year that the province was partnering with Shoppers Drug Mart to distribute free menstrual products in schools.

Health Minister Christine Elliott told CBC News the government already has “programs that help people that find it difficult to pay for contraceptive products.”

“The Ontario Drug Benefit program is available, as well as sexual health clinics that are available through public health units,” Elliott said.

“So our understanding is this is serving the needs of people that find it difficult to pay for these contraceptive products.”

Horwath didn’t divulge the price tag for the plan, but says the NDP will be releasing a fully costed platform and will have more announcements to make about pharmacare during the election campaign.

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