Ontario convenes expert panel on infertility and adoption

David Johnston David Johnston, panel chair
(July 12, 2008)    The province of Ontario has appointed an expert panel on fertility treatment and adoption to help find solutions for people trying to start or expand a family. The 12-member panel will recommend ways to help make both fertility treatment and adoption more accessible and affordable.

According to Ontario's Ministry of Children and Youth Services, infertility affects 1 in 10 Ontarians and approximately 1 in 6 women over the age of 30. There were about 850 public adoptions completed through Ontario children's aid societies in 2006.

The ministry is seeking advice on:

  • Better access to infertility treatment and making fertility monitoring available to women so they know if they are likely to have problems conceiving.
  • Improving Ontario's adoption system so that more children can find permanent families.

The panel includes people with personal experience of infertility, adoptive parents and representatives from the medical and adoption communities. It should report within a year.

"I look forward to working with my panel colleagues on this truly inspiring initiative," said panel chair, David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo. "I believe that together, we can make a difference in the lives of Ontarians wishing to create families."

The ministry provided biographies of the 12 panel members.

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (IAAC), the national body representing Canadians with infertility, immediately supported the expert panel. "We strongly believe," said Jocelyn Smith, IAAC President, "that the establishment of the Infertility and Adoption Secretariat and the strong composition of its Expert Panel ... will help ensure that Ontario's ultimate approach to family-building supports and services will indeed become a model for the rest of Canada and for the world."

The Adoption Council of Canada (ACC) wrote a letter to the minister on July 21 voicing two objections:

  • ACC is disappointed that no-one on the panel had "lived experience" with donor conception or adoption. The ACC urged participation by donor-conceived adults and adopted adults.
  • The committee's purpose is to "to help find solutions for people who are trying to start or expand a family." This suggests that the interests of the child are second to those of adults struggling with infertility. Adoption is a way of finding a home for a child, not a family-building service for those unable to conceive. Any discussion of adoption must focus on children's rights and needs.

Minister Deb Matthews replied on Sept. 8 that the expert panel met for the first time in July. The minister will ensure that David Johnston, chair of the expert panel, is aware of the ACC's request to share with the panel the ACC's concerns about the views of adopted and donor-conceived adults, and children's rights in adoption.

For more information

-- Infertility Awareness Association of Canada
-- Adoption in Ontario - Ministry of Children and Youth Services
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