Denied vote for free contraception, but MRU has you covered
By Julie Patton, News Editor
In November 2023, the Alberta government voted against a motion put forward by the NDP to provide free access to prescription contraception.
Had the vote gone through, Albertans would receive universal access to free contraception such as oral hormone pills, contraceptive injections, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices, subdermal implants, and emergency contraception, also known as Plan B.
The NDP had hoped to follow in British Columbia’s footsteps, as the province was the first in Canada to provide free contraception in early 2023.
“The UCP have no problem cutting massive cheques for their friends and insiders, but are refusing to consider the price of Albertans’ access to vital healthcare,” NDP Critic for Status of Women, Julia Hayter, said in a press release.
“Universal access to free prescription contraception will ensure Albertans, especially women, are in control of their economic future and their health.”
Despite the denied vote, many Alberta women do have access to covered contraception through their insurance and health benefit plans. At Mount Royal University (MRU), prescribed contraception for students is covered up to 80 per cent.
Covered at MRU
“It’s really important to understand what your benefits cover,” Francesca Simon, manager of MRU Health Services, said.
All MRU students pay into a benefits plan at the Students Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU), unless students specify otherwise.
Simon said the process of accessing covered contraception on campus is quite simple.
For both an IUD and oral hormone pills students need a referral from a doctor. Simon said it is best to get referrals from your family doctor, however the doctors at MRU can make them as well.
“Just say ‘I’m looking for a referral for an IUD,’ and they’ll book you in for an appointment with a doctor and then you’ll get the referral,” she said.
The referral should be made to the pharmacist at Wyckham Pharmacy. The campus pharmacy is located in the basement of Wyckham House, and there, both IUDs and prescribed birth control can be picked up.
“The nice thing about going down to see Thomas [the pharmacist] in Wyckham Pharmacy is that all you have to do is provide your student number, and as long as your plan is activated… he’ll direct bill, so you just pay the [remaining] balance,” Simon said.
For students wanting an IUD, they can pick it up at the pharmacy and then book an appointment at MRU’s Health Services Medical Clinic for IUD insertion and follow-up care appointments.
Accessing the plan
Students who have access to the SAMRU Student Benefits Plan must be taking nine or more credits at MRU and have paid a Student Association fee. To activate the plan, students need to visit the Student Health & Dental Benefits Office, also located in the basement of Wyckham House.
There they will confirm student eligibility, provide you with your plan number, and help set up your Canada Life account.
Once the account is set up, students can use their benefits plan for more than just contraception.
“If you are a student with a plan and you want an appointment for physio or massage, you need a referral from a doctor, so either your doctor or one of our doctors, and then you get $25 off per visit for massage and $30 off per visit for physio,” Simon said.
The plan also covers eye appointments, eyewear, dental, chiropractor, and more.
To learn more about benefits at MRU visit the Benefits Office or Health Services online or in person.