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Manitoba pledges to remove costs of birth control

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The cost of prescription contraception varies and not everyone has a drug plan to pay for it; however, Manitobans may no longer have to worry about this expense.

That’s because the province has made a promise to make prescription birth control free of charge.

As of now, there are a wide variety of birth control options available in Manitoba, but they all have a price attached to them

"Out of pocket for a patient it really can vary from $12 a month to up to $400 as a one-time cost,” said Dr.Omolayo Famuyide, the medical director at the Layo Centre.

This cost is an issue for many without drug plans or the money available.

"I have many patients who will come into our clinic who will want to choose a less effective method because of cost,” Famuyide said.

According to Kemlin Nembhard, the executive director of the Women's Health Clinic, birth control is something that people should be able to access with economic barriers.

Soon, that's exactly what will happen.

In Monday's throne speech, the new NDP government said it would make prescription birth control free.

This would make Manitoba only the second province to do this after British Columbia.

"We want to send a clear message to women and those across Manitoba who need this aspect of health care that our government is working very hard to make sure that you know your health care is a priority,” said Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara.

Dr. Michael Boroditsky, president of Doctors Manitoba and a gynecologist himself, believes this is the right way to go.

"We have a significant number of unplanned pregnancies in our province, in our country and if we can improve that to allow for more access and equitable access for the women of our province it's a win,” he said.

Lorie English from the West Central Women's Resource Centre said free access to birth control may also improve the daily lives of low-income women.

"It's very hard to get by on that amount of income,” she said.

“So when we take out of their monthly budget the cost of birth control that might mean more food on the table. That might mean a little bit less struggle paying the rent each month."

At the moment, it’s not clear what the eligibility threshold will be to qualify for the free prescription birth control, and the province hasn't said when it will begin to offer this or how it will they access it.

The province tells us it's speaking with health professionals and a variety of stakeholders.

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