'Let's have some babies': Aylward calls for support for families trying to conceive

The leader of the Opposition says the province should be doing more to help families undergoing fertility treatments.

The leader of the Opposition raised the issue in the legislature Tuesday

Opposition leader James Aylward says he thinks the province should be supporting families trying to access fertility treatments through tax breaks or grants. (Shutterstock)

The leader of the Opposition says the province should be doing more to help families trying to conceive.

James Aylward said the government could help people looking to access fertility treatment either through tax breaks or a portion of costs being covered by the provincial health plan.

Right now, Islanders who want to access to fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) have to leave the Island — a cost that isn't covered by the province. 

Aylward said P.E.I. should look to other provinces like New Brunswick, where residents have up to $5,000 of treatment costs covered.

"It is a very expensive procedure, upwards of $10,000 to $15,000, and it's not something that is successful every time," he said.

"I guess I'm looking to get a commitment from this government. They're constantly talking about fair play for everyone, and also growing the Island population. Well, if we want to grow the Island population, let's have some babies."

'You'll find a way'

Jordan McNally and his wife Brittany have been trying to have kids for about four years, and after several miscarriages their physician referred them to the Atlantic Assisted Reproductive Therapies clinic in Halifax.

Staff there determined that Brittany had a medical condition which made a healthy pregnancy unlikely.

After Brittany had a procedure for the condition, the clinic told the couple their best chance at a healthy pregnancy would be in vitro fertilization.

"It would be a struggle for us to come up with that kind of money but it's kind of something you know, if you're set on having kids, which most couples that are trying are set on having kids, you'll find a way to come up with that money," Jordan said.

Brittany and Jordan McNally haven't decided if they're going to try IVF, and if they do, where they will get the money to pay for the treatment. (Submitted by Jordan McNally)

"But it's going to impact your life significantly. Trying to come up with the money, and paying it back if you're using debt."

The couple haven't decided what they're going to do, but hope the province follows the lead of other provinces where financial support is available.

"Anything would really help," Jordan said.

"Just to give couples some kind of hope that, OK, we can at least try this once and it's not going to, you know, greatly impact your life."

Empathizing with families

Minister of Health and Wellness Robert Henderson said the province is working towards addressing women's health in general, but offered no specifics on fertility treatments.

"Certainly I can, you know, empathize with many families that are having that difficulty," Henderson said.

"With the development  of our women's wellness program and sexual health services that are provided to Islanders and women, we are doing our best to provide services and will continue to provide more services as they evolve."

People from P.E.I. seeking fertility treatment currently have to go off-Island. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Aylward said he hopes the province will be able to bring a new fertility specialist to P.E.I. so Islanders won't have to leave to get treatment.

"There's no better experience than actually bringing a child into this world and bringing a baby home with you," he said.

"I feel for those families out there, the individuals that are trying to conceive and just are not able to."

Until 2014, P.E.I. had a OB-GYN with a subspecialty in infertility. Health P.E.I. says it hasn't been successful in recruiting a new one yet. 

With files from Kerry Campbell