In the lead-up to the launch of Ontario’s eagerly-awaited In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) funding program, concerns have been raised by various patient groups and members of the medical community over the lack of available details about the program. Fears over long waitlists and exclusionary criteria standards have painted a less-than-stellar picture of the lauded $50 million dollar program.
As President of the IVF advocacy group, Conceivable Dreams, and a woman who has had her own battle with infertility, these concerns are certainly not lost on me. However, I think it’s important for patients to take a step back and remember what Monday’s launch means in the grander scheme: the program is designed to help couples who are struggling with infertility – estimated to be one-in-six in Ontario – to start a family. This means that thousands of people who were previously unable to seek assisted reproductive services due to high costs will now be able to pursue IVF – a treatment that, on average, runs around $10,000 per cycle.
By committing to help cover the cost of this inequitable and often prohibitive financial barrier, the Ontario government has taken a huge step toward bringing these individuals closer to fulfilling their dream of becoming parents. Premier Kathleen Wynne, Health Minister Eric Hoskins and their colleagues deserve recognition and thanks for their bold decision.
Experience from around the world also shows that established IVF funding programs that champion a policy of single embryo transfer cut down on the number of high-risk multiple births that can cause complications for mothers and their children. Such programs thus serve to provide consistent health and safety standards, leading to improved health outcomes and reduced costs to the healthcare system.
As with any new funding program, this one is likely to face a few bumps in its early days that will need to be resolved before its full impact is truly felt. To ensure as many patients are able to benefit from the funding as possible, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has promised to track and review the program’s success in its first year, making necessary adjustments along the way.
Conceivable Dreams and its members will continue to advocate on behalf of patients, working to ensure the program remains inclusive and open to feedback and individual experiences. We will also continue to work with partner advocacy organizations to encourage every province and territory to provide equitable access to IVF funding, as we were proudly able to achieve here in Ontario.