The180

Should the healthcare system pay for In Vitro Fertilization treatments?

In 2010, Quebec became the first and -- so far -- the only province to fully fund in-vitro fertilization. Couples who can't conceive naturally are eligible for three free rounds of treatment, which would normally cost as much as twelve thousand dollars per round. But now the Quebec government says it will scale back its commitment to funding the treatment,...
(Sang Tan/AP)
Listen8:34

In 2010, Quebec became the first and -- so far -- the only province to fully fund in-vitro fertilization. Couples who can't conceive naturally are eligible for three free rounds of treatment, which would normally cost as much as twelve thousand dollars per round.

But now the Quebec government says it will scale back its commitment to funding the treatment, citing runaway costs.

According to Quebec's Health Minister, Gaétan Barrette -- the program has been a little too popular.

He likens the current system to an "an open bar", and notes the program that was supposed to cost 32 million dollars a year but is now ringing in at closer to 70 million. So in the coming weeks, Barrette says he'll announce new restrictions on who is eligible for the treatment.

That could mean excluding same sex couples and limiting the coverage to infertile couples.

Infertility activists say that would be a setback to a program they've held up as a model for the rest of the country.

But Dalhousie bio-medical ethicist Francoise Baylis told The 180's Jim Brown that on a list of healthcare priorities, IVF is nowhere near the top.

If you think about how much our government already invests in health care and the fact that we are unable to meet the needs of Canadians and Quebeckers, for basic healthcare, I think we need to seriously ask questions about why we would invest 70 million dollars in the project of making babies.Francoise Baylis

Baylis says the government has a long list of more important health care issues to address. She cites the fact that nearly 20 percent of Quebeckers don't have a family physician.

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