Montreal

In-vitro fertilization will once again be free for Quebec couples, but only for one cycle

Women between the ages of 18 and 40 years old, regardless of whether or not they already have children, will be eligible under the new program.

Province tabled Bill 73 Wednesday, bringing back program cut in 2015

A single cycle of in-vitro fertilization can cost more than $10,000. (Submitted by Dr. Thomas Hannam)

The Quebec government has tabled a bill to restore public funding for one round of in-vitro fertilization for couples struggling to conceive.

Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant said Wednesday that women between the ages of 18 and 40 years old, regardless of whether or not they already have children, would be eligible under Bill 73.

"This is very good news for everybody in Quebec who wants to start a family," said Carmant. 

The Coalition Avenir Québec had promised to fund the procedure during the last election campaign.

While women aged 41 and older are not eligible for the program, they can still take advantage of the current tax credit for the procedure, Carmant said.

The program is set to cost the government $16 million per year. Carmant said he expects there will be about 7,000 cycles in the first year of the program, considering many couples have been waiting.

Carmant said for same-sex couples of two women, only one cycle will be covered per couple.

The only women excluded from the plan are those who have undergone a sterilization procedure in the past, and those who are over the age limit.

Quebec Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant announced the plan shortly after Bill 73 was tabled. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

The number of artificial inseminations covered for women in the province will drop from nine to six when the bill is passed.

Quebec began covering all the costs of in-vitro fertilization back in 2010, allowing couples to receive compensation for up to three full IVF attempts.  

However, the provincial Liberals cancelled the program in 2015, saying it was too expensive to maintain.

Gaétan Barrette, who was health minister at the time, said the government had spent more than $200 million on the IVF program since it was launched.

Barrette replaced the program with a sliding scale of tax credits. He also made it so that couples had to pay for the procedure up front — at a cost of about $10,000 — and only childless couples could benefit from the tax credits.

The decision was decried by many advocates and couples at the time, who argued the changes should have been grandfathered in and that those who had already started the process were left in limbo.

With files from Cathy Senay

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