OTTAWA - Every Canadian with a health card should be able to get free birth control and morning-after pills to ensure people have the right to do what they want with their body, federal New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh says.

The NDP are using their confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals to try and get the federal government to pay for contraception, including intrauterine devices or IUDs.

But on Friday, Singh reiterated his promise that the deal would fall apart if the federal government doesn't meet a March 1 deadline to table a bill that works for both parties.

The Liberals and NDP have already agreed to cover birth control through a single-payer program in the first go around. They are also in talks to include diabetes drugs in the program.

Speaking to reporters in Coquitlam, B.C., during a campaign-style stop in front of a local pharmacy, Singh said “contraception is a strong first step.”

“It's something we've seen a lot of worry around,” he said, citing a rollback of abortion access in the United States and “the erosion of a woman's right to choose.”

He said to respond to that, the Canadian government must ensure it tears down barriers that prevent some people from accessing contraception.

In recent months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also raised concerns over new restrictions on abortion access south of the border.

“We may think to ourselves, 'This will never happen in Canada and this is just the Liberals bringing up the usual fear that they do.' I'm sorry, it wasn't ever supposed to happen in the United States either, and yet it did,” Trudeau said in a December interview with The Canadian Press.

“The threat is real.”

Singh said the New Democrats are willing to work “day and night and through the weekend” for the next couple of weeks to ensure a pharmacare deal is made.

British Columbia already covers many contraceptives as part of its provincial pharmacare program, and Manitoba's government has already pledged to do so as well.

Ontario also provides many contraceptives for people under the age of 25 who don't have private insurance.

For years, Canada has had the third most expensive list prices for patented drugs among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

In 2022, Canada jumped to second place, according to the review board tasked with guarding against excessive drug prices.

Health Minister Mark Holland tabled Canada's new position in the cost rankings as part of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board's 2022 annual report in the House of Commons on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2024.

- With files from Laura Osman.