Time is money and the clock is ticking for the McGuinty government to deliver on promises to fund IVF in Ontario
TORONTO, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - Infertility patients from across the GTA gathered at Queen's Park this morning to demand government-funded in vitro fertilization (IVF). Larger than life children's building blocks on the steps of the provincial legislative building spelled out the $550 million the Ontario Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption says the province could save in long term health care and social services costs by funding IVF.
After four years of studying the issue, an election commitment and two separate government commissions in favour, the Ontario government has yet to implement its own infertility funding promise.
In Canada, more than 350,000 couples struggle with infertility. For many, IVF is their only chance of conception. In Ontario today, couples are forced to pay out-of-pocket for IVF. By contrast, Quebec announced funding for IVF in April 2009 and Manitoba recently announced its commitment to implement funding in 2010.
"With a new provincial government budget on the horizon in March 2010, it's time to give life to Ontario's IVF funding promise, give hope to thousands of infertile couples while saving Ontario's health care system millions of dollars," says Joanne Horibe co-founder of Conceivable Dreams - The OHIP for IVF Coalition, a group of infertility patients imploring the government to fund IVF.
The $550 million in savings reflect the costs of the riskier alternatives many infertile Ontario couples are forced to implement in the absence of government funding, according to the Government's own Expert Panel on Fertility and Adoption. The Expert Panel found that these suboptimal procedures significantly increase the risk of multiple, pre-term births including triplets, quadruplets and even higher-order multiples - often with severe medical problems.
"Infertility is a serious medical condition and assisted reproduction services are necessary medical procedures - not a luxury," says Dr. Art Leader, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Endocrinology, University of Ottawa and Member of the Ontario Expert Panel on Fertility and Adoption. "Healthy babies do result in healthy finances. By funding IVF the Ontario government could save on long term health care and social service costs and ensure one healthy baby is delivered at a time."
The Ontario Expert Panel's research concluded that Ontario could save $400-$550 million dollars over the next 10 years, by tying public funding of IVF to more stringent criteria limiting the number of embryos transferred and reducing the incidence of multiple births, and would see another $300-$460 million dollars in savings that would have been spent on these children over their lifetimes.
In her speech on the steps of Queen's Park this morning, Jane Evans, an infertility patient, called for Ontario taxpayers to have their voices heard and urge government to take action on this issue.
"Patients take health risks and stretch their finances for a chance at having a baby," said Evans. "I hope our government can step up now to protect the health and well-being of other mothers and children."
The Ontario Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption
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 Expert Panel is made up of 11 members including reproductive endocrinologists, specialists in counseling, 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 report "Raising Expectations" represents the independent views of the Expert Panel and has been presented to the Government for consideration. For more information on the panel and to read the report please visit: www.ontario.ca/creatingfamilies.
Conceivable Dreams - The OHIP for IVF Coalition was founded by infertility patients, Joanne Horibe and Ashley Bulley and Kerri Stanford in the fall of 2008 to provide a collective voice to request that the Ontario government fund treatment for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Conceivable Dreams currently has over 1,100 members from across Ontario.
For more information please visit www.conceivabledreams.com
SOURCE Conceivable Dreams
For further information: For further information: Noemie Wiggett, Environics Communications, (416) 969-2661, firstname.lastname@example.org