When an Emergency Fund is an Abortion Fund

$300

$450

$850

$1100

$1500-1750

What are these numbers? Perhaps a small to decent amount of debt to tackle; perhaps a moderately sized emergency fund or even someone’s whole savings.

These numbers are the costs of abortions in varying locations across Canada.

But you say- we live in Canada ! Health care and cost never go to together! True north strong and free (health care)!

Yet one of the lesser known facts about Canada is that abortion services are one of the only procedures that are not covered under reciprocal billing agreements between provinces and territories.

Canada is actually made up of 13 different health care systems- one for every territory and province. If you are a resident of that province, say Ontario, you get your little OHIP card and every time you visit a health care professional for a medically necessary procedure- and Canada has defined medically necessary as anything performed by a medical professional-you will not have to pay. With that Ontario health card if you travel to another province or territory in Canada for a trip or to move, say to BC, that Ontario card will cover you for your health care expenses up to 3 months from when you settle in a new province. If you break you leg on vacation in BC and you have your Ontario health card, they will not charge you. If you move to BC for the first three months the Ontario health card will be still covering you.

This is actually one of the essential foundations of the Canadian health care systems and a basic tenant of the Canada Health Act- the idea of portability. If you don’t know about this Act absolutely read about it here!

Yet abortion is not covered if you leave your home province. If you are a student studying in another province, if you have recently moved, you can only access covered abortion services in your home province. In my example above, which is increasingly common as we are all moving around for better opportunities within the country, if a resident of Ontario moves to BC for a job and needs to access abortion services in BC she will have to pay upfront, or decide to return to Ontario to access a covered abortion. Have you ever checked the cost of an urgent flight in this country?

Abortion services are a medically necessary, very time-sensitive urgent procedure so the fact that abortion is not covered under reciprocal billing plans is very troubling. For someone to come up with $300-$1700 out of the blue while you are a student or just recently moved is a very difficult position. 

To make matters worse, there are provinces (looking at you PEI, New Brunswick) in Canada that have no abortion services, so folks need to leave the province to get any care, and so must pay out of pocket.

Please read more about this herehere and here if you want to find out more!

Honestly, before I read anything about personal finance and emergency funds, I started saving money for myself in case I needed to access an abortion before I could get a new health card.

So we have free health care except when it comes to women, reproductive rights and nondiscriminatory access for folks of all economic backgrounds.

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