Public Funding of IVF

Healthcare is a provincial matter in Canada. That means the provinces decide which services to pay for in the public healthcare system. Covered services therefore differ from province to province. Fertility treatments are no different; some provinces cover the cost of testing, some of the cost of treatments, some of the drugs, none of the drugs, and so on.

Quebec first started to pay for IVF treatments for its residents years ago. Since then, each province has considered its position on the matter. Quebec has reconsidered its position as well.

Ontario covers some IVF for some people some of the time. If that sounds confusing, you’re right. The basic eligibility rules respecting age of the patient and number of attempts is clear. The rest is as clear as mud. In the end, each fertility clinic is left to deal with patient demand, including patient waitlists, aka backlog. It has, in our opinion, created a two tier healthcare system. Some patients personally pay for fertility services, while others do not. The system has also brought into question the quality of care provided. Doctors are compensated on a model that encourages IVF treatments to be provided whether the patient is ready or not. We call that a conflict of interest.

The Situation in Northern Alberta

Fast forward to 2017 and the province of Alberta. Alberta has seemingly gone an entirely different direction; the only hospital in northern Alberta that offers non-insured fertility services (such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF)), the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, has indicated it will soon stop offering these services. The closing will directly impact 3500 current and active patients. Their only local choice will be private unregulated clinics.

We don’t advocate for an Ontario type of insurance coverage in Alberta. Surely easy access to fundamental healthcare services such as fertility services is a right all Canadians should have, no matter your province of residence.

A recent petition started by Angela from Edmonton (Not Angela the director of Total Wellness Centre) is worth considering. We do not take an official position with respect to healthcare services in Alberta. However we strongly believe in access to healthcare for all Canadians.

Jonah Arnold