PSAC calling on government to expand coverage of contraceptives
Only the pill is covered by the public service healthcare plan
The union representing federal public servants wants the government to get with the times and give women coverage for more birth control options than just the pill.
Robyn Benson, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said she wants to restart negotiations with Treasury Board Secretariat to modernize the union's healthcare plan.
"It's 2017 now, so I don't think we should be forcing women to take birth control pills if it's not appropriate for them," Benson told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning host Hallie Cotnam on Monday.
The current healthcare plan does not cover non-oral contraceptives, so other birth control methods such as the patch and intrauterine devices, would have to be paid out of pocket.
Previous government struck down deal: PSAC
Benson said before she came into her role there was a deal between the union and Treasury Board to broaden the coverage of contraceptives, but it was struck down in 2011 by then-president Tony Clement. She said once the Liberals took power in 2015, she presumed they would bring back the expanded coverage "with a stroke of a pen."
According to Benson, the new campaign is about giving female public servants more choices.
"There are some women who don't want to take the pill," he said.
"There are a number of things contained in birth control pills that they may not want to be ingesting into their body and so there are other ways of birth control that I think this government should put into the health care plan."
Benson admits that the current healthcare plan is neither the worst nor the best, but said there is room for improvement. The United Nations has informed the Canadian government about improving access to birth control and sexual health, she added.
In the meantime, negotiations are ongoing to determine if changes can be made.
"We will look at where there can be savings to the plan and how we can reinvest those savings," Benson said. "We're certainly looking at what would make the plan equitable to all."
Treasury Board said in an email to CBC News it is "committed to negotiating in good faith with all bargaining agents."
"Discussions regarding future changes to the [Public Service Health Care Plan] are ongoing. We won't speculate on the outcome of the discussions at this time," wrote spokesman Alain Belle-Isle.
With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning