Nearly 300 people marched from Place-des-Arts in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, protesting against proposed changes to Quebec's in vitro fertilization program.
- Quebec IVF program bans anyone over 42 from eligibility
- New Quebec health bill to restrict IVF treatments, impose quotas for family doctors
Among today's protesters were Hughes Leclair, his partner Janie Bertrand and their 15-month-old son, Logan. Leclair and Bertrand conceived Logan with the help of IVF because Leclair lives with cystic fibrosis, a disease that makes conception difficult.
They say their life changed “for the best” when Logan was born, and though they hope to have a second child, that’s not why they took part in the march.
“It’s not only for us. We’re doing it for others,” said Bertrand.
Those present said the program was an important distinguishing characteristic for Quebec.
"It was a really nice program. It was recognized worldwide. Everywhere I went, Quebec was recognized as an example," said Dr. Louise Lapensée, an obstetrician/gynecologist.
IVF program too expensive, says Quebec government
The Quebec government has proposed a plan to suspend public health care coverage for IVF treatment. In addition, only women aged 18 to 42 would have access to IVF treatment – after passing a psychological evaluation.
The changes are included in Bill 20, the controversial health bill tabled near the end of this fall's legislative session at Quebec’s National Assembly.
Barrette has elaborated on those proposals, saying some exceptions could be made for women who have tried other therapies but failed to conceive. However, he said, women who have had a tubal ligation, men who have had vasectomies or a parent or parents who already have one child would not benefit from this exemption.
He also said that doctors who advised their older patients to seek IVF treatments outside of the province would be subject to hefty fines.
Other concerns with Bill 20
While the march was happening, a group of doctors also spoke out against Bill 20.
Hundreds of doctors met in Montreal for an annual meeting. Quebec's Federation of General Practitioners used it as an opportunity to speak out against the bill, of which they have been extremely critical.
Many family doctors in the province are opposed to the legislation because it will impose minimum patient quotas on them.
They say forcing them to see a minimum number of patients each day would affect the quality of care they can provide to patients.
"We need to take the time with the patient to talk with our patients," said Dr. Louis Godin, president of the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners.
"We are not on a chain. We cannot say that after ten minutes, that's it, it's over. Go away."
He also said if passed, it could encourage doctors to leave the province or to retire early.
Godin said it may even deter young people from wanting to become family doctors in the first place.