Last week, the United States (US) Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade, overruling US citizens’ constitutional right to an abortion.
The move gave US states the power to make abortion illegal. Since then, at least seven states have banned the procedure and nine others are expected to follow suit, according to The New York Times.
In the wake of this Supreme Court decision, a growing list of Canadian tech companies with US workers have expanded their benefits to cover costs for employees who need to travel out of state to access healthcare and reproductive services.
“The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will have a significant impact, threatening decades of economic gains for women and depriving them of the right to make deeply personal healthcare decisions.”
This group includes Toronto-based password management startup 1Password, Montréal-based payment processing company Nuvei, Montréal commerce and point-of-sale software firm Lightspeed Commerce, and Vancouver-based media tech company BBTV, which have all announced measures of this nature.
At least five additional Canadian companies BetaKit spoke to either already provide this type of support or have begun to do so in light of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling: Montréal travel tech startup Hopper, Ottawa-based e-commerce giant Shopify, Calgary-based corporate purpose software firm Benevity, and Toronto’s Clearco.
Other large Canadian firms with US operations have also stepped in to help their American employees access healthcare and reproductive services, from banks like TD, Scotiabank and CIBC, to insurers like Sun Life and Manulife.
South of the border, big tech companies like Microsoft and Tesla have committed to helping employees access out-of-state medical care, including abortions. Meanwhile, Apple, Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Airbnb have said that they will continue to cover travel expenses for employees who seek medical treatment outside their home states.
According to The Globe and Mail, Canadian companies have been slower than their US counterparts to offer abortion support for their American employees as within hours of the ruling, more than a dozen large US companies announced plans. In the week since the ruling, more Canadian companies have come out with similar measures.
Nuvei, which announced benefits shortly after the ruling, has promised to provide up to $4,000 in expense reimbursement for employees who need to travel elsewhere to access medical care, including abortions. “Whereas I recognize this is a sensitive topic and we all have our own views, at Nuvei we take care of our own,” said Nuvei chairman and CEO Philip Fayer in a LinkedIn post from earlier this week. “We wish to ensure our employees have the support they need.”
Meanwhile, 1Password has offered to cover up to $5,000 in out-of-state travel and related expenses for US employees and dependents living in states where they are unable to obtain reproductive care otherwise covered by the company’s benefit plans. 1Password chief people officer Katya Laviolette said the startup is also working with its benefits provider “to ensure this is completely confidential.”
“1Password was founded 17 years ago, in Canada, on the strong belief in equality in the workplace and beyond,” wrote Laviolette in a LinkedIn post earlier this week. “This has not changed, nor will it. The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will have a significant impact, threatening decades of economic gains for women and depriving them of the right to make deeply personal healthcare decisions.”
The Toronto-based firm is also adding a fertility, adoption, infertility, and family-building assistance program to its benefits for US employees, and donating $25,000 USD to Planned Parenthood and $25,000 to the United State of Women.
On the west coast, BBTV announced this morning that it will cover abortion travel costs for its US employees. “The health and wellbeing of all our employees is our number one priority, and access to safe abortion care is inalienable when it comes to our values and policies at BBTV,” said BBTV founder, chairperson, and CEO Shahrzad Rafati.
“Women’s rights and women’s health impacts every one of us.”
Benevity spokesperson Lauren Stewart told BetaKit that the Calgary company is also rolling out additional benefits to support its US employees during this time, but is still ironing out the exact details.
Meanwhile, Hopper spokesperson Ellie Breslin confirmed to BetaKit that as a result of last week’s Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling, “Hopper will offer travel expense reimbursements for employees and covered dependents who will need to access out-of-state health care and reproductive services.”
For its part, Shopify spokesperson Jackie Warren told BetaKit that the Ottawa e-commerce giant’s US benefits program already “covers medical costs related to abortion and provides a discretionary account for employees to offset personal travel costs without any requirement to disclose the purpose of travel.”
For Clearco’s part, spokesperson Nick Rosen-Wachs told BetaKit that the company is supporting its US employees “on an individual basis, providing them support, including travel and leave if they need to travel out of state” rather than roll out a formal, blanket policy, given the size of its US team, which remains “very small” compared to its Canadian employee base.
“Women’s rights and women’s health impacts every one of us,” wrote Clearco co-founder Andrew D’Souza in a LinkedIn post earlier this week. “Whether you know it or not, these rights have affected you in some way or another.”
In the post, D’Souza—who transitioned from Clearco CEO to executive chair earlier this year—shared the story of an abortion his mother had when he was two years old to illustrate the importance of women’s rights.
“Early in the pregnancy, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” wrote D’Souza. “She had to make a very difficult decision—terminate the pregnancy or risk her own life and the life of the unborn child. She didn’t have very much time as the cancer was aggressive and she ultimately underwent a hysterectomy, lost the child, and the ability to have any more children in the future. If she hadn’t made that decision, I would have grown up without a mom. I would not be who I am today.”
BetaKit reached out to four other prominent Canadian tech companies with a significant presence in the US, including Faire, Dapper Labs, PointClickCare, and eSentire, but none of them responded by publication time.
Photo by Kjetil Ree, via Wikimedia Commons.