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LETTER: Saanich dragging its feet on endorsing free contraception

For the past two years, B.C. municipalities have been adding their support to AccessBC’s call for universal no-cost prescription contraception. The City of Victoria was the first, passing a motion in January 2020, and since then, 29 municipalities and districts across the province have taken less than 10 minutes out of their agendas to adopt a motion urging the provincial government to make all prescription contraception free.

The list includes large municipalities like Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster, smaller communities, like Enderby, Slocan, Oliver, and Salmo. Saanich’s absence from this growing list is conspicuous, notably because the AccessBC campaign was founded by two Saanich residents in 2017. As a Saanich resident and in my capacity as chair of the AccessBC campaign, I have written to Saanich council to ask them to endorse the campaign’s call for free prescription contraception on a number of occasions, and I also was part of a delegation that gave a presentation about the issue to council on Aug. 16, 2021. Despite these efforts, Saanich has remained silent on the issue.

Free prescription contraception is an important and beneficial policy: it improves health outcomes for mothers and infants, supports equality, increases affordability for people, and saves the government millions. An Options for Sexual Health study estimated that free prescription contraception would save the B.C. government $95 million per year. It is for these reasons why France just made prescription contraception for women under 25 free, and why dozens of countries around the world have implemented similar policies. So why hasn’t Saanich council taken a few minutes to adopt a motion endorsing this important policy?

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

Saanich