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'A basic human right': Manitoba NDP promise free birth control if elected

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The NDP are promising free birth control to Manitobans if they win the provincial election this fall.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew joined MLAs Uzoma Asagwara, Nahanni Fontaine, and dozens of NDP candidates at Scout Coffee & Tea, 1199 Rothesay Avenue, for Sunday's announcement.

If they form Manitoba's next provincial government, the NDP said it would implement universal coverage for prescription contraceptives across the province.

"Access to contraceptives is a basic human right, and should be easily accessible," said Fontaine, the NDP Spokesperson on Status of Women.  “By providing free birth control and removing the financial barrier, we are taking a gendered and human rights approach to sexual and reproductive health care."

The plan would see the provincial government cover the full cost of dozens of commonly used birth-control methods, including oral contraceptives, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormonal injections and the morning-after pill.

Currently, Manitoba Health covers contraceptive surgical procedures, such as vasectomies for men. Meanwhile, the cost of an IUD can be as much as $380, and birth control pills can cost a person $240 a year.

The NDP said many young Manitobans face barriers to accessing birth control, putting them at higher risk of unplanned pregnancy. Removing barriers will give women, trans men and non-binary people greater control of their lives, improve their health outcomes and reduce overall costs to the health care system.

“Manitobans deserve quality health care. They deserve health care that is there for them where and when they need it," said Asagwara, the NDP Spokesperson for Health. “That means not making choices between buying birth control or paying your hydro bill."

The NDP said the cost of implementing universal coverage of contraceptives would be $11 million a year.

Manitobans go to the polls to elect a new provincial government on Oct. 3, 2023.

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