In May 2017, it was announced that the NIHB program was going to cover the costs for Mifegymiso for eligible First Nations and Inuit individuals.

The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), provides eligible status First Nations and Inuit with a range of primary care services, community-based health promotion services, disease prevention programs, as well as Non-Insured Health Benefits which supplement health coverage provided by provinces, territories, or private insurance.

Mifegymiso coverage must be offered through FNIHB as a standard and necessary medical service, to avoid unequal access to abortion for First Nations and Inuit peoples who are not covered by provincial or territorial insurance.

The Non-Insured Health Benefits program has committed to covering the costs of Mifegymiso, however, it is our recommendation that FNIHB commit to cost coverage of Mifegymiso as a form of primary health care, rather than relegating it to a supplemental drug offered under the extended health benefit program (NIHB). This distinction is reflected in provincial decisions to cover the cost of the medication through primary health care (i.e.: accessible for all with provincial/territorial insurance) rather than through the addition of Mifegymiso to a public or private supplemental drug formulary.

 

Barriers to Access

We encourage the government to:

While Action Canada views the NIHB’s promise to cover the cost of Mifegymiso as a step in the right direction, we recommend the coverage of Mifegymiso through FHNIB as a primary health service, rather than through NHIB in a package of supplemental, extended drug benefits. That said, better access to sexual and reproductive health care does not hinge exclusively on affordability. Action Canada supports comprehensive and holistic approaches when tackling disparities in access to health care.

Many factors negatively affect the health of Indigenous people in Canada, including poverty, racism, and the intergenerational effects of colonization, residential schools and the sixties scoop. One significant barrier to good health is the relationship between Indigenous people and communities with the health care system itself.   

It is crucial that beyond covering the costs of Mifegymiso, the federal government takes all the steps necessary to address what fundamentally impacts the health of Indigenous peoples and all barriers that compromise access to high quality and comprehensive health care.

1. Ensure the equitable, easy and timely access to comprehensive package of reproductive and sexual health services for all people covered by the FNIHB.

2. Implement the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations.

3. Mandate cultural safety training for all people associated with the delivery of health care services.

4. Ensure the appropriate and timely funding of health care services delivered via the FNIB so people can access all services available to people covered by provincial and territorial health insurance.

5. Support the creation of Indigenous directed, and Indigenous-led health and health related services.

6. Support the efforts to increase the number of Indigenous health care providers.

7. Support the employment of specialized roles such as Indigenous patient navigators to serve as a bridge between Indigenous patients and the health care system serving them.