Federal employees now covered for more than just the pill
'This change has been a huge victory for all women across the public service'
They still have to pay for condoms, but federal employees now have more birth control options available to them under their health plan.
Previously, public service health plan members and their eligible dependents were only covered for the contraceptive pill.
As of April 1, the plan has been expanded to cover 80 per cent of the cost of non-oral contraceptives such as patches, vaginal rings, contraceptive implants (intrauterine and arm) and intrauterine devices (IUDs), including copper IUDs.
Condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps, as well as spermicide products such as foams and jellies, are not covered under the plan.
Heather Ford, provincial director for the Public Service Alliance of Canada for P.E.I., said the union has been lobbying government for many years to expand birth control coverage.
Money from existing funds, government says
"This change has been a huge victory for all women across the public service," she said.
It's about giving women in the public service more choice with respect to their reproductive health rights.— Joyce Murray
The Treasury Board manages the public service health plan. Joyce Murray, MP for Vancouver Quadra and parliamentary secretary to the Treasury Board president, said the changes would not result in a significant cost increase and would come from existing funds.
"It may well be that some women shift from a currently covered contraceptive type to another one that didn't used to be covered so it would be a wash," she said.
"It's about giving women in the public service more choice with respect to their reproductive health rights.... Some women can't tolerate oral contraceptives well so they were in a way having an extra cost for their contraceptives that there really isn't a good rationale for."
660K plan members
Approximately 660,000 people, including about 2,300 on P.E.I., and their eligible dependents are covered under the public service health care plan. Members include federal public service employees, MPs, federal judges, RCMP, members of the Canadian Forces and some veterans.
Ford hopes other health plan administrators follow suit and expand birth control coverage.
"The federal government is usually the first step," she said. "Usually when the big unions start to win, then the rest of the country follows."