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'We want to break those barriers down': Group calls for contraceptive coverage in Manitoba's pharmacare program

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A group of Manitobans is asking for all contraceptives including pills and IUDs to be added to the province's pharmacare program.

Access MB said cost is the most significant barrier to using contraception in Canada, adding many people have to pay out-of-pocket as they have no pharmaceutical insurance or their insurance does not cover contraceptives, or they want to get contraceptives without their parents knowing.

Access Manitoba said making all prescription contraception available for free under the Manitoba Pharmacare Program would remove stigma and financial barriers.

"It's not only women who use contraception. Trans and non-binary people have to access contraception as well and there is a stigma associated with that," said Paige Mason, a volunteer with Access MB, adding places such as France and the Netherlands currently cover contraceptives fully or partially.

"We want to break those barriers down for everyone and show that is an inclusive movement and we need to be aware of the difference socio-economic factors of this."

Access MB is calling on the government to have the costs of all types of contraceptives covered under pharmacare.

In a statement to CTV News, a provincial spokesperson said Manitoba Health does have an income-based pharmacare program to support Manitobans.

"As well, persons receiving support from Manitoba's employment and income assistance program have their deductibles covered and so these products are available at no cost for them," the spokesperson said.

"In addition, service delivery organizations also supply contraceptives as they have several programs which offer free contraception to women, including Mount Carmel Clinic and Women’s Health Clinic." 

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