TORONTO — It’s been five years since the rollout of the Ontario Fertility Program, which was launched in 2015 to assist eligible patients who are struggling to conceive children.
Since then, it has helped cover the cost of fertility treatments for more than 60,000 people in the province.
While similar programs are being offered in other provinces such as Quebec and New Brunswick, there are some concerns that not enough is being done by employers to help cover other costs.
“Infertility is a very prevalent problem and issue that often doesn’t get the place that it needs to have in the discussion when it comes to [new life],” Dr. Marjorie Dixon, founder of Anova Fertility in Toronto told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday. “One in six couples in Canada is experiencing infertility and the main barrier to care is the cost, because of the high-end reproductive technologies that are involved.”
Depending on the province, one round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) can cost around $10,000 to $20,000 per cycle, and around $5,000 for prescription medication.
Dixon says that she would like to see employers help staff with the mental, physical and financial burdens that come with trying to conceive.
“Individuals who want to grow their families and face an economic barrier need assistance,” Dixon said. “They do this in the U.S. quite commonly where benefits packages actually do include benefits for fertility medication […] and the treatment.”
She added, “Canada is behind and employers are behind.”
In 2019, the country hit a record low fertility rate of 1.47 births per woman, according to data from Statistics Canada.
A single cycle of IVF was previously covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), however it was removed as an insured service in 2015 and is now being funded through contracts with fertility clinics across the province.
The government says that it is committed to supporting people who are trying to start or expand their family by making IVF treatments more accessible regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or family status.
Women under the age of 43 are eligible for funding, so long as an Ontario health care provider determines that IVF is the most appropriate family-building option for them.
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