Tens of thousands of B.C. residents took advantage of free contraceptives in past 8 months

In the eight months since B.C. started offering free contraception and letting pharmacists treat minor ailments, the province says many have taken advantage of the programs.

North Vancouver NDP MLA Susie Chant, who is also a nurse, says between April 1 and Nov. 28, 2023, more than 188,000 people received free contraceptives.

“Over 123,000 people received hormonal pill contraceptives, 37,300 people obtained emergency pills, and over 30,000 people received an IUD,” she adds.

British Columbia is the first and only province in Canada currently to provide universal free contraceptives to all residents under the BC Pharmacare program.

Since the province expanded the role of pharmacists on June 1 of this year, nearly 300,000 people have benefited from free contraceptives and being able to see a pharmacist for treatment of minor ailments or contraceptives, the Ministry of Health said in a release.

The ministry said that across the province, 1,367 pharmacies are participating in this program, and the top three minor ailments that patients received treatment for are urinary tract infections, allergies, and conjunctivitis.

Healthcare access has also been made easier with a provincial online booking system to see a pharmacist.

“People in B.C. are feeling squeezed by everyday costs,” said Premier David Eby. “People are also pressed for time, … especially at this time of year and so it’s so important for the government to find opportunities to support people with the cost of daily life and find ways to make life a little bit easier.”

He added that this has relieved pressure on clinics and emergency rooms and saved British Columbians hundreds of dollars on contraceptives every year.

Before this program was launched, hormonal pills cost as much as $25 a month or $300 a year. IUDs could cost up to $400.

 “This is an important step forward in empowering people to take charge of their health,” said Chant.

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