Nova Scotia

NDP bill would cover contraceptive costs for people without health plans in N.S.

NDP health critic Susan Leblanc said the bill would improve access to medication for people who are otherwise forced to pay out of pocket as well as expanding their options.

MLA Susan Leblanc says bill would bring greater choice to people

New Democrat MLA Susan Leblanc is the party's health critic. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The NDP wants the Nova Scotia government to fund prescription and emergency birth control for anyone who doesn't have a health plan that covers the costs.

The party tabled legislation at Province House on Tuesday that would ensure anyone without a health plan would have access to birth control through the provincial MSI plan.

NDP health critic Susan Leblanc said the bill would improve access to medication for people who are otherwise forced to pay out of pocket, while also expanding their options.

"The province already pays for a number of different types of contraception," Leblanc told reporters at Province House. "They're largely invasive and surgical, and so [this bill] would provide people with a choice of contraception that is a pill or a different device that would be much easier on the body and to take."

About a third of working people in Nova Scotia do not have health coverage through their employer. The NDP says the cost of birth control in a pill form can range from $91.43 to $290.76 a year, while devices such IUDs cost upward of $350.

Premier Iain Rankin says the proposal is worth considering. (CBC)

While they do not have an exact cost of what the program adjustment would be, the party points to similar changes in British Columbia. Adjusting the cost of that program based on Nova Scotia's population would be about $12 million a year.

Premier Iain Rankin said he believes the idea is worth pursuing.

The government's budget released last week focused on what he saw as the most pressing issue facing the province — income assistance rates — but Rankin said he's open to other programs that can help people.

"I'd love to put money into a pharmacare program, child care, all these things are good to look at, and this is a good idea to bring forward," he said.

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