Nfld. & Labrador

In vitro fertilization services being considered by Eastern Health

Newfoundland and Labrador's health minister says funding that could possible help pay for and expand in vitro fertilization for individuals in the province is being considered.
Northern Ontario's first fertility clinic has been surprised by the demand for services in it's first two years. (Dr. Thomas Hannam)

Newfoundland and Labrador's health minister says funding that could possible help pay for and expand in vitro fertilization for individuals in the province is being considered.

Currently, individuals and couples wishing to avail of the service — which involves fertilizing an egg with a sperm outside of the body — is not offered in Newfoundland and Labrador, though consultation services are.

Anyone seeking the service would have to travel outside the province to have the procedure carried out fully.

Minister Clyde Jackman said his department is looking at what the province currently does, and how in vitro services could possibly be expanded in the future.
Health Minister Clyde Jackman, seen here in a file photo, says Eastern Health and his department is currently looking into expanding in vitro fertilization services offered in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

"My understanding of it is that it is just not an individual who sets up a clinic here," Jackman said.

"There are lab workers that have to be established and other types of support services that have to be put in place, and I guess if it comes down to it, cost is certainly a factor," he said.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island are the only Canadian provinces who do not offer the service in-province.

Possibility for change

However, Jackman said that could change during the next budget process, leading to an expanded service.

"Eastern Health is investigating and is looking into this and it will be entered into a budget process … and then we will make a determination from there," he said.

Earlier this month, fertility doctors in St. John's said it was time for Newfoundland and Labrador to provide a service, which is available in almost every other Canadian province, to infertile couples here.

Dr. Sean Murphy is with Newfoundland and Labrador Fertility Services. He said about 70 couples travel outside of the province every year to get the medical service they need.

"Universally, it is hard for any patient that has to go away," Murphy said.

"It is hard to go away for any kind of medical treatment, particularly something that is so sensitive and so emotionally straining on couples. It's particularly hard."

Jackman said the request to have financial or resource support expanded for in vitro fertilization is comparable with other people who ask his department for things like more funding for autism or cancer drugs, saying no final decision has been made yet.