For immediate release
EDMONTON – Representatives from Action Canada, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Health Coalition, the Canadian Pharmacists Association and the Kensington Clinic are together today during the 2017 Health Ministers’ Summit to jointly demand the governments of Canada and every province and territory cover the cost of medical abortions. Access to abortion shouldn’t depend on your postal code or your tax bracket.
At the July 2017 Council of the Federation, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights gave provinces/territories until now to pledge universal cost coverage of the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. To date, five provinces have committed: New Brunswick, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The five hold out provinces, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, PEI and Newfoundland must immediately commit to cost coverage to avoid violating the Canada Health Act and creating two tiered access to health care in Canada.
“This isn’t just a problem for reproductive rights advocates, it’s a problem for anyone who believes in universal health care,” says Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. Adding that “What is needed from our political leaders is the courage and foresight to correct the course and take the necessary steps to address unequal access to abortion. It has gone on for far too long.”
“Right now, a person in Ontario or Alberta who needs a medical abortion can access one free of charge. If someone in Newfoundland needs one, they’re forced to cover the $300 to $450 cost upfront or go without. For someone in Manitoba many will have to travel to the two sanctioned service points, possibly hundreds of kilometers away, to access the pill free of charge. How is that equitable? The fact that BC has not yet committed calls their new governments’ stance on women’s equality into question.” says Prasad.
In support of a multi-prong strategy to ensure equitable access to health care, the Canadian Nurses Association has been vocal on the need to support nurses prescribing the pill: “Whether women live urban or rural locations, we urge provincial and territorial governments to provide them access to Mifegymiso. To achieve this for Canadian women, we must allow and support nurse practitioners (NP) and other qualified prescribers to practise to their full scope. As the primary care providers of over 3 million Canadians, it is critical to remove all the barriers – which include private insurers recognizing NP as a qualified prescriber – to allow them to provide comprehensive care to their patients across Canada.” Says Eric Lavoie from Canadian Nurses Association.
Similarly, pharmacists are concerned about the barriers posed by restrictions around dispensing Mifegymiso: “CPhA strongly supports expanding cost coverage across the country to support better access to Mifegymiso for women”, says Christine Hrudka, Vice-Chair of the Canadian Pharmacists Association. “Another critical barrier to access is the current Health Canada requirement that physicians dispense it directly to patients which is inconsistent with how other medications are dispensed and is often a restriction for physicians. CPhA has compiled a scan (https://www.pharmacists.ca/cpha-ca/assets/File/cpha-on-the-issues/Mifegymiso_advocacy.pdf) of Canadian’s access to mifegymiso through pharmacy and it shows that while some provinces have allowed pharmacists to dispense directly to the patient, many provinces still haven’t done so. We would urge Health Canada to remove this requirement as quickly as possible, but failing which, we would urge the remaining provinces and territories to permit pharmacist dispensing”
In addition, Pauline Worsfold will be speaking to the press, representing the Canadian Health Coalition in order to bring attention to the importance of a national pharmacare strategy and Celia Posinyak, executive director of the Kensington Clinic in Calgary will speak to the realities of abortion service provision within Alberta.
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Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
ACTION CANADA FOR SEXUAL HEALTH & RIGHTS is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health in Canada and globally.