Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister highlighting the next step to universal access to free contraceptives


Toronto, Ontario - March 30, 2024

Hello, and welcome to University—Rosedale. You are here in my home riding, which I have such a privilege to represent.

I would like to start by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat Peoples.

I am really glad to be here with my colleague, Minister Ya'ara Saks. I want to thank the amazing people of Snowdon Pharmacy. Thank you for hosting us. You really are a community institution. And I am especially privileged to be here with Dr. Diane Francoeur (CEO) and Dr. Amanda Black (President) of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. These are the experts and it was really important for me that their voices be showcased.

I would like to thank everyone who is here and all health care professionals across Canada—for the important work you do. You are the champions of women’s freedom of choice over our bodies and our lives. That is so essential. Our government recognizes that, and we are here to support you in your work, and to support every single woman, every single girl, across Canada.

A fair chance to build a good middle-class life – to do as well as your parents, or better – has always been the promise of Canada.

Today, many younger Canadians feel as though the deck is stacked against them. They can get a good job, they can work hard, but too often, that reward—of a good, secure, middle class life—remains out of reach.

What many parents and grandparents have achieved for themselves—a degree of comfort, security, and the ability to start and raise and provide for a family—that’s what we want for our children and grandchildren. We want their hard work to be rewarded, as it was for us. We want our children to face the future with a sense of anticipation and possibility rather than a sense of angst.

We have arrived at a pivotal moment for Millennials and Gen Z. These young Canadians have so much talent and so much potential. They need to see and feel that our country can still work for them – that the promise of Canada can still be reached.

That’s why we are acting now to build a Canada that works for younger Canadians—a Canada where they can get ahead and where their hard work pays off.

First, we are going to turbocharge the construction of new homes across the country.

Second, we are going to help make life cost less.

And third, we’ll grow the economy in a way that’s shared by all. I am so glad to be here today to announce a next step in this plan that is going to help make life cost less for young Canadians, especially for young women.

In the upcoming federal budget, we will be delivering free contraceptives through our national pharmacare plan.

As a proudly feminist government, we take freedom of choice seriously. That freedom should not come with a cost.

We are a proudly feminist government, and I am proud to be a feminist Finance Minister. We’re a government that believes women should have the right to make their own choices about their health and their bodies.

As women’s reproductive rights are challenged in other parts of the world—including just south of the border—it is more important than ever for us to ensure that Canadian women have access to contraception. Today, tomorrow, and the day after that.

This is every woman’s fundamental right. It’s a fundamental human right for women. Not being able to control your body means you don’t control your life. And that’s not okay.

Contraception can be expensive. If you don’t have insurance coverage—like many younger Canadians—birth control pills can cost up to $300 a year. An IUD can cost up to $500. That’s not cheap.

Our plan to make common contraceptives free—including birth control pills, IUDs, and the morning-after pill—will mean that, for nine million Canadian women, freedom of choice will truly be “free.” It will mean they don’t have to pay for the fundamental right of controlling their own bodies. It means more Canadian women will have freedom of choice over their bodies and over their lives.

Free contraception is just the first phase in our plan to deliver a national, universal pharmacare system for Canadians, in partnership with provinces and territories. The first phase of our plan will also help make a range of diabetes medications—like insulin—more affordable and accessible for Canadians of every generation.

Universal pharmacare is about strengthening Canada’s social safety net and making life cost less—for every generation. And I will have more to say about this plan when I table our 2024 budget on April 16th.

Our government first came to office with a vow to strengthen and expand the middle class. We delivered on that pledge by reducing poverty, especially for children and seniors, and creating millions of good jobs for Canadians. Our work isn’t over.

Our renewed focus today is unlocking the door to the middle class for millions of younger Canadians. For millions of young Canadian women. We’ll build more housing and help make life cost less. We will drive our economy toward growth that lifts everyone up.

And in everything we do, we dedicate ourselves to keeping the promise of Canada within reach for our younger generations. Because that is what you have earned, and it is what you deserve. And it is what your parents and grandparents want for you, too.

Thank you.

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