The province has announced that 50 clinics across Ontario will be providing publicly funded in-vitro fertilization, starting today.

The $50 million in funding, which was announced in October, will help cover the cost for roughly 5,000 families trying to conceive a child. The process involves retrieving an egg from a woman and fertilizing it outside the body before it is inserted in the uterus to hopefully create a baby. 

"It is estimated that one in six Ontario couples is affected by infertility at some point in their lives," the Ontario government said in a news release.

'The government is supporting family building for those who couldn't otherwise have the opportunity to have children.' - Eric Hoskins, Ontario health minister

Families with fertility issues, including single or same-sex couples, are eligible under the new program. Women must be under the age of 43 to participate. 

"Ontario will fund one cycle of IVF and unlimited rounds of artificial insemination for eligible people at fertility clinics across the province," the release said.

CBC News has learned individual doctors and clinics will be left to decide who gets treatment. Those seeking treatment must have an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card even though the fund is separate from OHIP.

'A significant milestone'

The additional funds will be on top of the $20 million spent annually on IVF treatments already under OHIP, according to the release.

"Infertility is a serious issue that affects thousands of Ontarians who have dreams of starting their own families," said Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins. "The government is supporting family building for those who couldn't otherwise have the opportunity to have children."

Multiple eggs and embryos may be possible during one cycle of the IVF treatment. 

"Patients or their private health plans will be required to pay for some supporting services such as fertility-related drugs and storage of embryos," the statement said.

"The program will also cover the cost of the one at a time transfer of all viable embryos to allow for the possibility of multiple chances for pregnancy and to reduce the occurrence of high-risk multiple births," the government noted. 

"Today marks a significant milestone for thousands of Ontarians who, due to the high cost of IVF, have been unable to seek the medical intervention needed to improve their chances of conceiving," said Danielle Xavier, president of the IVF advocacy group Conceivable Dreams.

For a full list of clinics offering publicly funded treatments, visit the Ontario government's fertility services website