QUEBEC – The Quebec government tabled a bill on Friday aimed at ending free and unlimited access to its in vitro fertilization program.
Women with fertility problems and who may need medical assistance will have to cover the costs themselves under the proposed legislation.
Those who are not financially well off will be able to take advantage of a tax credit at the end of the year.
“We wanted to guarantee access to the entire population and, particularly to those who don’t have the means, we’re offering to grant a tax credit on a sliding scale based on the revenue of the patient,’ Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said.
Women and men who already have a child would not be able to claim the tax credit.
Provincial government support would be adjusted based on the revenue of women who want to become mothers.
For example, 20 per cent of the costs would be reimbursed for a couple with a revenue of $120,000 or more, while 80 per cent would be reimbursed for a couple earning less than $50,000.
One fertility treatment costs on average between $4,000 and $5,000.
Under the legislation, only women between the ages of 18 and 42 would have access to the treatments and some may even have to undergo a psycho-social evaluation.
While in vitro fertilization would no longer be free, artificial insemination would still be refundable.
The in vitro program is currently available to anyone — including homosexual couples and single women. But nothing prevents a male couple from asking a surrogate mother to bear a child.
In the past, the Quebec health minister has described the program as an “open bar.”
Assisted procreation has been free in Quebec since August 2010, but the controversial program has been costing more than expected.
A report by Quebec’s health commissioner in June said it was not viable in its current form and that costs had to be reined in.
Originally it was estimated the program would cost $48 million in 2012-2013, but it actually cost $70 million.
The Quebec government, which is on a cost-cutting mission in order to balance the budget next year, believes it can save $48 million a year with the modifications.