The City of Parksville will officially show support in regards to no-cost access to specific gender-based contraceptives.
On Monday, March 15, Parksville city council voted in favour to submit a letter of support to the provincial finance minister, health minister and Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker, regarding the City of Vernon’s request to provide universal no-cost access to all prescription contraception available in B.C. under the Medical Services Plan.
Vernon’s letter read that doing so has shown to improve health outcomes for parents and infants by reducing the risks associated with unintended pregnancy, and that it is likely to reduce direct medical costs on the provincial health system. The letter was initially received as correspondence by Parksville council during a Feb. 17 meeting.
Before council voted there had been discussion around the table about the city’s position on provincial jurisdictions.
Mayor Ed Mayne considered showing support for this as a “slippery slope” simply because doing so would “veer off” into provincial jurisdictions. Mayne did say he thought it was a great idea the province should step up to the table for.
However, Coun. Adam Fras said that while this “isn’t within what council typically does,” he did see a benefit to the support being discussed.
“Parenthood is a wonderful thing that we can embrace in life but unfortunately when it’s not planned it can be very disruptive and challenging to people as well. When we see how we have things like condoms and vasectomies covered in our Medical Service Plan, I think it should be extended to cover things like birth control and prescription contraception. It supports not just women but all parents.”
Coun. Marilyn Wilson pointed out that Vernon’s letter addressed equality for men and women in the provincial Medical Services Plan.
“And in this letter, it’s very clear that women have not been treated as equally in the coverage,” she said.
Coun. Al Greir said he did not support the motion as he believes it to be a moral and social issue not part of council’s mandate. Coun. Doug O’Brien stated he believed the concept of contraception goes against different religious beliefs, and so, could not support the letter either.
Fras addressed O’Brien and noted that, regardless of religious beliefs around contraceptives, the letter does not state that anyone is being asked to take them, only asking to make them more available for those that do.