Free IVF in Quebec: Liberals promise to cover
first two in vitro fertilizations

Premier Jean Charest Jean Charest
(Nov. 24, 2008)   With an election campaign in full swing in the province of Quebec, the Liberal government is courting voters by promising free IVF procedures. Full coverage of in vitro fertilization treatments would be a unique benefit in Canada.

As reported in the Montreal Gazette, Jean Charest, the premier of Quebec, announced on Nov. 17, 2008 that his government would help would-be mothers in the province to have babies by paying for their first two tries at IVF.

Having Quebec's health insurance plan cover two IVF treatments would cost Quebec taxpayers $35 million in the first year. Premier Charest said he expected the free treatment would double the demand for IVF.

The Liberal Party of Quebec electoral platform says "The Régie de l'assurance-maladie du Québec will cover 100% of all fees related to in vitro fertility treatments for the first two attempts".

Mr. Charest's Liberal Party hopes for a majority in the legislature in the Dec. 8 provincial election. If the Liberals win — all signs say they will — and then keep their promise, Quebec will be the only province to cover IVF fully.

That would place Quebec far ahead of the rest of the country. Most Canadian provinces do not cover assisted reproductive technology treatments. (Ontario pays only if women have both Fallopian tubes blocked.)

Tax credit for infertility treatment

Already Quebec stands out as the only province to offer a tax credit for infertility treatment. Quebecers can claim a refundable tax credit of 50% for the costs of infertility treatments and medication, to a maximum of $20,000 in costs per year. (The tax credit would still apply if more than two IVF attempts are needed.)

As the Globe and Mail's Ingrid Peritz noted Nov. 22, 2008 in "Kissing babies isn't enough", "The pledge helps to secure Quebec's status as the most baby-conscious and aggressively pro-family province in the land. ... it brought in baby bonuses in 1988. Since then, Quebec has trail-blazed with universal daycare and unparalleled parental leave."

Quebec has a low fertility rate of 1.62 children per woman (2006), well below the replacement rate of 2.1. (Statistics Canada says the rate for all Canada was 1.59 in 2006.)

A pro-baby policy could help Mr. Charest earn his third term as premier on Dec. 8 — and could bump the population next year with an extra 1,500 babies.


Nov. 25, 2008. Charest pledges support for in-vitro fertilization - Critics question whether plans will utilize public funds effectively. By Austin del Rio, The McGill Tribune. Charest maintains that the issue of defining what specific procedures would be covered by the Liberal plan, as well as other ethical issues, can be left to medical experts in the Régime de l'assurance maladie du Québéc, the public body charged with overseeing the province's health care system.

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