The City of Vernon voted in favour Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, to send a letter to the province calling for universal, no-cost coverage of prescription contraception in B.C., joining the ranks of municipalities such as Vancouver, Victoria, Cranbrook, New Westminster and Fernie. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi - AP photo)

The City of Vernon voted in favour Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, to send a letter to the province calling for universal, no-cost coverage of prescription contraception in B.C., joining the ranks of municipalities such as Vancouver, Victoria, Cranbrook, New Westminster and Fernie. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi - AP photo)

Vernon 10th in B.C. to endorse free birth control

City council voted in favour of Coun. Kelly Fehr’s motion to pen the province to support no-cost access to contraceptives

The City of Vernon is the tenth municipality in the province to endorse access to free birth control after council voted in favour to pen a letter during the Oct. 13 meeting.

“I’m so happy to see my hometown council supporting such an important issue,” said Marisa Levesque, a medical student at the UBC Southern Medical Program and member of the AccessBC Campaign for universal free prescription contraception.

“Cost is just one barrier individuals face in accessing contraception and these barriers fall disproportionately on women and people with uteruses,” she said. “I’m grateful the Vernon council has recognized this equity issue and is showing their support to the provincial government for easier, safer access to contraception for everyone who needs it.”

Coun. Kelly Fehr brought the issue to the table at Tuesday’s meeting. He asked his council colleagues to back the writing of a letter to B.C.’s finance and health ministers, the premier and local MLA seeking support for universal access to all contraception under the provincial Medical Services Plan.

“Ensuring we provide universal access to no-cost prescription contraception is one more way the City of Vernon can break down barriers,” said Coun. Kelly Fehr. “As a society, we must always strive to provide equal access and equal health care regardless of one’s economic status, gender or identity.”

Fehr’s motion pointed to the costs of unintended pregnancies on the provincial health system as one reason to provide free prescription contraception. It also underscored that condoms and vasectomies are available at low cost, no cost or are covered by MSP.

“Contraceptive methods for people with uteruses, such as birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUD) or hormone injections, have high up-front costs,” the motion stated.

An IUD, which has a 99 per cent efficacy rate, can cost between $80-300 in British Columbia, while condoms are offered free of charge at several clinics.

After a 6-1 vote in favour of Fehr’s motion, Vernon joins the ranks of Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kimberley, Squamish, New Westminster, Cranbrook, Fernie and Alert Bay in the push for accessible contraceptives.

AccessBC co-founder Devon Black said the core of this issue is equality.

“We know that people with uteruses pay unfairly high costs in dealing with unplanned pregnancy, but under our current system, they also pay unfairly high costs to prevent pregnancy in the first place,” Black said. “This puts those of us who can become pregnant in an impossible lose-lose situation, in a way that we shouldn’t still accept in 2020.”

An Options for Sexual Health 2010 study estimates providing no-cost coverage could save the province as much as $95 million a year.

That pattern of savings has been recognized in some jurisdictions in Europe that subsidize contraception in part or full.

“Programs that offer universal no-cost prescription contraception not only make life more affordable for people, but they save governments money because the cost of offering prescription contraception at no cost is considerably lower than the costs associated with unintended pregnancy,” AccessBC chair and co-founder Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff said.

“I’m very pleased to see municipalities across B.C. adding their voice to the call for universal no-cost prescription contraception, as this policy needs to be part of any provincial recovery plan.”

READ MORE: Vernon councillor pushes for free birth control

READ MORE: Enderby home total loss after morning blaze


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Vernon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

NDP candidate Toni Boot has had multiple campaign signs vandalized in Penticton. However, she doesn’t believe the vandalism is targeting a specific party or candidate, she told <em>Black Press Media </em>in an Oct. 17, 2020 interview. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Vandals target Penticton campaign signs

NDP candidate Toni Boot says she’s had multiple signs vandalized since the start of her campaign

Stefano Bottini of the Penticton Vees had much to celebrate this weekend, as his team pushed their win streak to eight games with a pair of blowout victories over the West Kelowna Warriors. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees dominate West Kelowna in back-to-back games

The Vees remain undefeated in the Okanagan Cup, Warriors fall to 3-4-0-1

Advance voting is already underway in the 42nd general election in British Columbia. Election day is Oct. 24.(Black Press files photo)
QUIZ: Are you ready for the B.C. election?

Take this short test and see how much you know about elections and voting

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UPDATE: Abandoned Kelowna heritage building fire deemed suspicious

The building sustained major fire damage to the exterior and roof area

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the temporary shelter operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. A fire was discovered in the building’s attic, forcing the evacuation of temporary residents and staff. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Reported electrical fire evacuates Okanagan temporary shelter

No visible smoke or flame but Vernon firefighters discover small blaze in former warehouse’s attic

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Most Read