Condoms are running short at Planned Parenthood centres across Canada after a manufacturer stopped a decade-old donation program that provided 500,000 free.
Perhaps one of the hardest hit clinics is in St. John’s, Newfoundland, which relied on 40,000 Lifestyle condoms a year from Ansell Canada Inc.
“We had enough stock to get us through to August,” Planned Parenthood St. John’s executive director Costa Kasimos told the Star.
Since then, they’ve found some smaller programs to help but by January expect to have to dip into their reserve fund to replace a donation worth about $12,000.
On a budget of $200,000 to cover three staff, a clinic and an education program that travels the province, the expense is a big hit, Kasimos said.
“Our education co-ordinator brings boxes of condoms to the schools. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the stock to do that.”
Across Canada, about 30 centres affiliated with the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health depended on Ansell’s free condoms and lubricants until the program stopped this year.
Halifax Sexual Health Centre, for example, received 15,000 condoms, and 12,000 personal lubricants from Ansell.
Even bigger, better funded centres in Toronto and Waterloo, however, have had to scramble for alternate sources and dip into their operating budgets to make up the loss.
“We are fortunate in that Toronto Public Health does provide us with condoms,” said executive director Sarah Hobbs of Planned Parenthood Toronto.
Still, Toronto Public Health hasn’t increased its donation to make up the shortfall and Planned Parenthood Toronto’s funders “don’t give us money to purchase condoms.” Most of the centre’s funding comes from the Ontario government.
The consequences of losing the free condoms are significant, said Kasimos.
“The cost of an unintended pregnancy would more than make up the cost of 40,000 condoms.
“One of the myths is that if you make condoms available, it affects (young people’s) sexual behaviour. It doesn’t. It affects the rate of condom use. In our roundtable discussions with youth they tell us if they’re not able to get condoms for free, they’re not going to go to the store and buy them.”