About the Issue
Access to affordable contraception for women, non-binary individuals, and anyone who has the capacity to carry out a pregnancy is a human right. Our team at UACSask is a sister campaign of AccessBC, the group who enacted change in British Columbia. Our goal is to bring accessible and universally covered contraception to Saskatchewan.
Why is it important?
Every year, countless lives are affected by unplanned pregnancies. Across Canada, approximately 40% of pregnancies are unplanned which often leads to significant emotional, socioeconomic, and health related consequences. These consequences are particularly pronounced in vulnerable populations including youth, Indigenous peoples, and immigrant and refugee populations. These are especially relevant in Saskatchewan with our province having among the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in Canada, the second highest proportion of Indigenous peoples amongst the provinces, and an ever growing immigrant and refugee population.
While unplanned pregnancy is a multifactorial issue, one of the leading preventable factors is lack of access to adequate contraception. Cost has consistently been identified as the most important barrier to contraception access, with many people being forced to pay out of pocket due to patchy and inconsistent drug coverage plans. Currently, the most effective forms of contraception on the market are long acting reversible contraception (LARC) which includes both hormonal and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implantable contraceptive devices (i.e., Nexplanon, recently approved in Canada). However, these forms of contraception come with a high initial cost of $350-$400 for the Nexplanon implant or hormonal IUD. Many individuals are forced to settle for a form of contraception which may not be ideal for their needs or may be forced to use no contraceptive at all due to the prohibitive cost barrier.
Care providers are always seeking to provide their patients with the best possible options, and despite studies indicating that 75% of people would choose a LARC method when cost was eliminated, the reality is they are out of reach for many. Ultimately, the “best” contraceptive option is the one which works for your personal needs. Nobody should be forced to compromise on their own health care simply due to cost.
British Columbia set an incredible precedent in 2023 by becoming the first Canadian province to fully cover a broad array of contraceptive options for all residents. This is an example which should be learned from and emulated here in Saskatchewan and the time to act is now. Beyond the incredible benefits and cost savings to individuals, provincial coverage of contraception would lead to huge financial savings for Saskatchewan. British Columbia’s Contraception Access Subsidy (BCAS) Policy is predicted to achieve cost-neutrality in its second year with overall savings of $27 million by its fourth year. Contraception is a human right. History has shown that when something important needs to be done, Saskatchewan residents have the gumption, initiative, and perseverance to get it done.
We believe in the people of Saskatchewan, and together we can ensure that cost is no longer a barrier to our province’s residents accessing contraception.
At what cost?
Will Sask be next?
The average cost of an IUD (intrauterine device) is $350.
The average person who uses the OCP (oral contraceptive pill) spends around $20-$30 monthly.
Universal coverage would cost the government approx. $300 per person annually.
40% of pregnancies in Canada are unplanned.
57% of these pregnancies result in live births.
An unplanned pregnancy can cost the government approx. $9000 per person annually.
Contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy and the health complications associated; it is also used to treat irregular periods, heavy bleeding, pain, PCOS and in prevention of certain cancers.
Barriers to contraception disproportionately affects people under 25, those with lower-income, and those living in rural and remote communities.
75% of people would choose a long acting contraceptive, such as an IUD, if they did not have such a high cost.
Access to affordable contraception is a human right.
Denying our population this right comes with increased negative health outcomes, social, and emotional consequences.