Expert Panel Releases Report on Infertility and Adoption in Ontario

    -- Centralized adoption agency and funding for IVF among key
    recommendations --

    TORONTO, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - After a year of multi-disciplinary study,
Ontario's Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption today released its report
on the current state of Ontario's adoption and assisted reproduction systems.
The report, entitled Raising Expectations, makes detailed recommendations to
help Ontarians build families by improving the systems.
    "Bold changes are needed," says David Johnston, Chair of the Expert
Panel. "Ontario's adoption and assisted reproduction systems are not working
as well as they could - and should - for children and families. There are many
dedicated, courageous, and committed people providing and using services in
both systems but the structures, policies, laws and costs are barriers."
    The report sets out an ambitious agenda for change, with recommendations
that address the current barriers by empowering Ontarians, intervening early,
and improving access to services.

    The Panel's recommendations include:

    1.  Create a provincial adoption agency with a local service presence to
        offer and manage public adoption services from system entry to post-
    2.  Set consistent policy, standards and oversight for all adoption
    3.  Overhaul Ontario's adoption legislation to address gaps and barriers
        in the public, private domestic and intercountry adoption systems and
        better support concurrent adoption planning for Crown wards
    4.  Make Crown wards with court-ordered access to their birth families
        legally free for adoption
    5.  Provide funding for adoption subsidies and supports for former Crown
        wards with special needs
    6.  Provide fertility education and monitoring at the primary care level
        to help people make informed family building choices
    7.  Require all in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics and fertility
        centres to be accredited and, as a condition of accreditation,
        require clinics to reduce their multiple birth rate to 15% within 5
        years and 10% within 10 years
    8.  Provide public funding for three cycles of IVF under certain
        conditions, including covering the costs of ancillary services that
        are required
    9.  Reduce social and legal barriers to assisted reproduction so that
        Ontarians who could benefit from services are able to do so.

    In addition, the Expert Panel calls for the Government to provide more
and better information, raise awareness and develop education programs to help
Ontarians access adoption and assisted reproduction services more quickly and
    "The Panel's recommendations can help Ontario seize the opportunity to
become the best jurisdiction in which to build a family, in Canada and the
world," says Johnston. "We see the public release of our report as the launch
of the necessary awareness campaign. To maintain momentum, the government must
move now to put the other necessary components in place."
    The full report is available at
Interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to link to it with any
relevant web site.

    Additional Facts

    -   1 in 6 - Ontario couples who struggle with infertility in their
    -   1,600 - approximate number of children adopted into Ontario families
        each year through the province's three adoption services - public,
        private domestic and intercountry
    -   9,400 - approximate number of Crown wards in 2007-08, but only 822
    -   Ontario's current adoption system is fragmented, complex and time-
        consuming, failing to quickly connect waiting children with potential
    -   Children who need families - particularly older children and youth -
        are often stuck in Ontario's child welfare system. Many of them have
        court-ordered access to their birth families that prevents them from
        being adopted
    -   The single greatest barrier to assisted reproduction services is the
        cost. Most procedures are not covered by OHIP and are beyond the
        reach of most Ontarians
    -   Clinics and fertility centers are not required to be accredited and
        people don't know where to go for the best care
    -   The high cost of assisted reproduction services is leading to
        decisions which result in an unacceptably high rate of multiple
        births in Ontario - this threatens mothers' and children's health and
        well-being and results in high hospital and other health costs
    -   Ontarians face other barriers accessing assisted reproduction
        services: some live too far from the small number of clinics, others
        - such as single people and same-sex couples - face social and legal
        barriers, and the stigma associated with infertility keeps many
        Ontarians from seeking help

    About the Expert Panel

    In 2007, the Ontario Government made a commitment to help Ontarians who
struggle to build their families. In July 2008, the Government of Ontario
appointed the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption to help provide advice
on how to improve access to assisted reproduction services and Ontario's
adoption system. The report "Raising Expectations" represents the independent
views of the Expert Panel and has been presented to the Government for
    The Expert Panel is made up of 11 members including reproductive
endocrinologists, specialists in counselling, family medicine, complementary
therapies and adoption; lawyers and business executives; people who have
experienced infertility and/or used assisted reproduction first hand; and
adoptive parents. The Panel was chosen to bring a breadth and depth of
expertise and perceptions in the study areas relating to infertility, assisted
reproduction and adoption.

    The Expert Panel's Methodology

    The Panel worked for a period of a year through a multi-disciplinary
methodology to understand the challenges that Ontarians face when trying to
build families through adoption or assisted reproduction. The study included
an online survey of the public and a range of stakeholders, as well as
in-person or telephone interviews of users of the adoption and/or assisted
reproduction services. The Panel Members also reviewed literature on related
subjects; examined policies and programs of other jurisdictions; conducted
qualitative surveys of current key service providers; and reviewed
presentations from experts and stakeholders in the field.

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview with a
representative of the Expert Panel, please contact David Johnston at (416)

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