Free Birth Control Now Available under Provincial Health Plan in British Columbia - What Does it Mean for You?

Mar 6, 2023
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It's great news that prescription birth control will soon be covered for free under the provincial health plan in British Columbia. The new benefit comes into effect April 1, 2023. This policy change makes birth control more accessible and affordable for people who need it. If you're looking to take control of your reproductive health, there's never been a better time to explore your options for birth control.

What’s covered? And for who?

This new benefit will cover a variety of options for birth control:

  • Oral hormonal contraception pills
  • Injections
  • Subdermal (under-the-skin) implants, such as Nexplanon
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs), both copper and hormonal types
  • Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill

The free contraception will be available to all BC residents covered under the Medical Services Plan (MSP) for women, transgender and non-binary people.

Vasectomies have already been covered for years by B.C. MSP.

Of course, it's important to note that not all forms of birth control are covered under the provincial health plan. For example, condoms, the patch, and the vaginal ring are not covered. If you aren’t a BC resident, you also cannot get free birth control on a visit.

How do I get my free birth control?

If you're interested in taking advantage of this new policy, all you need to do is visit your doctor or nurse practitioner and ask for a prescription for the birth control method that's right for you. You can then take that prescription to a pharmacy and get your birth control for free.

In addition, you may soon be able to get a prescription for birth control directly from a pharmacist as early as May 2023. This comes from new legislation that expands the role of pharmacists in British Columbia, allowing them the right to write prescriptions for minor illnesses and for contraception. The ministry of health is still working with pharmacists to decide which approved drugs qualify.

It’s important to know that not every form of birth control is right for everyone. Talking to a doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist is the best way to ensure you get something that works well and is safe for you. That’s why birth control will continue to be prescription-only products, even when they are covered for free.

Why did the government decide to do this?

For many people, the cost of birth control can be a major barrier to accessing this essential healthcare service. This is particularly true for those who are already struggling to make ends meet. As BC’s finance minister Katrine Conroy told the provincial legislature, “We know cost varies, but it really adds up for someone who pays $25 a month for birth control pills.” Minister Conroy highlighted that over a lifetime, $25 a month for birth control can add up to over $10,000 for just one person.

But with the new policy in place, people can get the birth control they need without worrying about the financial burden. People can also choose the best birth control option for their bodies, rather than needing to choose the cheapest option.

This policy change is a major step forward in terms of reproductive healthcare in BC. It means that more people will be able to plan their families on their own terms, without having to worry about the cost of birth control. This can have a significant impact on people's lives, including their education, career, and financial stability.

I don’t live in BC. Will my province offer free birth control too?

British Columbia is the first in Canada to offer free birth control for everyone under the provincial health plan. Not every province has hopped on board just yet. However, there have been ongoing campaigns all over Canada pushing for free birth control for everyone. Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, who led the now-successful Access BC campaign, is working with sister campaigns to bring the same policy change in other provinces like Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. In an interview with the CBC, he said, “my hope is that this makes British Columbia a beacon of hope for reproductive justice across Canada and further afield.” So, even if your province isn't there yet, there's still hope for the future!

Outside of Canada, free contraception is already offered in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Scandinavian countries.


In addition to getting free birth control, there are other things you can do to take control of your reproductive health. For example, you can make sure you're getting regular check-ups and screenings, such as pap smears and STI tests. You can also practice safe sex by using condoms and getting tested regularly if you have multiple sexual partners.

Taking control of your reproductive health is an important part of overall health and wellness. With the new policy in place, it's easier than ever to get the birth control you need to plan your family on your own terms. Talk to your doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist about the best options for you. Your health (and your wallet) will thank you!

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