Study shows most of Canada’s employers don’t offer fertility benefits and the ones that do, offer less than $3,500. National awareness campaign launches to advocate for women and families, calls on employers to do better
February 2, 2021; Toronto, ON: On February 2nd, fertility patient groups, Conceivable Dreams and Fertility Matters Canada are launching Fertility Benefits Matter, a new campaign to encourage employers to improve fertility benefits and raise awareness on the current state of fertility support across Canada. Given that the number of Canadian couples facing fertility challenges has doubled over the last 40 years, and the high costs of treatment and drugs, the campaign hopes to put a spotlight on this critical issue.
In Canada, the average cost of one round of IVF is approximately $20,000 and surrogacy costs upwards of $80,000. With limited provincial government funding (only five provinces provide some sort of public funding – see our infographic here) and employer benefits, these high costs put these procedures out of reach for many Canadians.
To better understand how employers are supporting their employees to create families, the group commissioned new research to review employer benefits plans in Canada. The research reviewed a sample of small to large employers, across all provinces, in all industries. It found that the majority of Canadian employers did not provide fertility benefits. Of those that did provide benefits:
- Only 5% provided coverage for both fertility drugs and other fertility costs such as IVF procedures and testing.
- More than 85% of these benefits plans had lifetime maximums in place for fertility drugs; these ranged from $2,400 to $18,000 with a median of $3,250 per lifetime.
- One in five (21%), had annual maximums in place; these ranged from $600 to $2,000 with a median of $1,150 per year.
“Many Canadians are choosing to have families later in life when their fertility is on the decline. Single parents and non-heteronormative individuals and couples rely on family building options such as IVF, surrogacy, gamete donation, or adoption,” says Carolynn Dubé, Executive Director of Fertility Matters Canada. “Family building has changed. We recognize that many employers do not understand what that looks like for countless Canadians. We want to educate them so they can provide better benefits to their employees.”
Despite the increase in fertility challenges and the actual fertility costs experienced by patients, it is apparent that the coverage provided by employer benefits plans is not adequate. Employers who offer family-friendly benefits can also improve employee retention and productivity finds US research from FertilityIQ. Employees who had their IVF covered reported being more likely to remain in their job for a longer period (62%), were more willing to overlook shortcomings of their employer (53%) and were more likely to work harder (22%).
In addition, the perceived stigma associated with fertility challenges forces many employees to struggle in silence. According to a survey from Fertility Network UK, 50% of women did not disclose their treatment to their employer out of fear that the employer wouldn’t take them seriously and over 40% due to concerns about its negative effects on their career prospects.
“We are calling on employers and insurers to be part of the change and lead by example,” says Tara Wood, Fertility Advocate and the Board President of Conceivable Dreams. “Employers that offer inclusive benefits that meet the needs of all employees, plus attract and retain great talent. We are asking insurance providers to offer more comprehensive fertility coverage options for plan sponsors and to update plan language to reflect modern family needs and treatment options.”
Fertility Benefits Matter will start a national dialogue to encourage employers to play an integral part in creating change and supporting the creation of Canadian families. Patients across Canada are urged to visit www.fertilitybenefits.ca to download a toolkit to help them to feel confident when speaking to their employer about improving benefit plans. Employers can download information on the business case for providing comprehensive fertility benefits. Employers, insurers, and employees are invited to visit FertilityBenefits.ca on February 2nd for more information.
About Conceivable Dreams
Conceivable Dreams is a volunteer-run patient group that advocates for equitable access to fertility treatments. Since 2008, Conceivable Dreams has led the public movement towards achieving government funding for IVF in Ontario and now has a national mandate to improve fertility benefits. Learn more at ConceivableDreams.org.
About Fertility Matters Canada
Fertility Matters Canada is the national organization that empowers Canadians to reach their reproductive health goals by providing support, awareness, information and education; and promoting equal access to fertility treatments. They are a registered charity and Canada’s fertility resource.
For further information:
Pomp & Circumstance PR
416-977-9797 (ext: 111)