Universally accessible, high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare is essential to building a healthy society. A healthy society is one that empowers people to make their own decisions and ensures that every person has the non-negotiable human right of unrestricted access to information, resources, and sexual and reproductive health services.
Access to contraception and sexual health services is an important pillar of the universally accessible, high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare we need. Access to high-quality perinatal health care, including midwifery, is vital to supporting safe and healthy childbirth. Access to safe, timely, and judgment-free abortion services is essential to fostering the development of a healthy society. We must work to overcome barriers of geography, poverty, information and service availability in order to guarantee universal access to this full range of reproductive health services.
To improve sexual and reproductive health in Saskatchewan, we can:
- Ensure the delivery of age-appropriate, objective, evidence-based curricula on reproductive and sexual health (such as that offered through the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on their website Sex and U) in both public and separate school systems, as well as to the general public.
- A national pharmacare program covering prescriptions would improve health outcomes and decrease costs. Should the federal government decline to show this leadership, Saskatchewan must once again take the lead, as I’ve advocated in our campaign’s pharmacare policy. Until such a program is developed on a national scale, Saskatchewan should provide, free-of-cost, all forms of contraception, including IUDs and emergency contraception, under its provincial drug plan. Contraceptive accessibility could be further facilitated by the establishment of sexual health clinics in communities currently lacking such services, and supporting sexual health organizations and frontline responders to provide services to people currently facing barriers to access in their communities. We also need to provide full coverage for antiretroviral medications for HIV treatment, support best practices in harm reduction for prevention, and improve opportunities and decrease stigmatization of testing and treatment of all sexually transmitted illnesses.
- No one should face judgment or coercion in accessing health care services. We should implement safe access legislation that would protect women seeking abortion services and service providers from protests, persuasion or harassment within defined access zones.
- As with all legal health services insured under the provincial health plan, access should not be limited by geography, social and economic status, or ethnicity. Where access is currently insufficient to meet the full range of reproductive health service needs, initiatives in training of personnel and assistance to overcome transportation costs and other identified barriers should be undertaken. This includes expanding the availability of medical abortion through provider training and public drug coverage for the newly licensed, gold-standard drug Mifegymiso.
In addition to addressing people’s health care needs, we need to concentrate on improving the circumstances of Saskatchewan people of all genders by addressing social determinants of health such as income, employment, education, housing and food security. This means working towards gender equity and improved quality of life, facilitating access to a living wage and pay equity, and providing access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education.