IVF, fertility help costs are rising. For many that means ‘reconsidering’

Click to play video: 'The cost of IVF in Canada is rising: what that means for couples trying to have a child'
The cost of IVF in Canada is rising: what that means for couples trying to have a child
WATCH: The cost of IVF in Canada is rising: what that means for couples trying to have a child – Mar 2, 2024

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of a clinic and pricing.

Cayley Benjamin and her husband sought fertility treatment after many months of trying to have another child — one of the many Canadians who turn to medical help, but increasingly struggle with the costs.

“We were able to conceive and I had a miscarriage just over two years ago,” she said, speaking to Global News from Vancouver.

“After that, I found myself unable to get pregnant.”

Benjamin said she and her husband needed to budget for the treatment – and that rising costs forced them to question their plans.

“Over and over, we consciously asked ourselves, like, ‘Are we sure we want a second child?’” she said.

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Benjamin tried months of fertility drugs and then months of intrauterine insemination (IUI) (placing sperm directly into the uterus). When those failed, she turned to in vitro fertilization, which involved her taking medication to boost the number of eggs, specialists retrieving the eggs, fertilizing them in a laboratory and storing them for several days before placing the embryo back in her uterus.

The total cost, she says, was roughly $30,000.

Benjamin said the process is draining, and even though she won’t receive any of the funding, Benjamin said she cried when she heard that B.C.’s government will start covering IVF, a decision announced in the provincial budget last month.

According to experts and a Global News analysis, costs for fertility treatment are increasing. With inflation, it’s putting more pressure on Canadians hoping to grow their families.

Click to play video: 'B.C. Budget 2024: How new IVF funding will help potential parents'
B.C. Budget 2024: How new IVF funding will help potential parents

“That’s a fact that fertility costs have risen,” Dr. Prati Sharma, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, said.

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Sharma, also a board member of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, said inflation coupled with the costs of operating clinics, paying for staff and running advanced equipment has pushed up the price of treatment.

Both Sharma and Carolynn Dubé, executive director of Fertility Matters Canada, a charity, said one cycle of IVF costs around $20,000 on average.

Both also said many women require more than one cycle to get pregnant.

The rising costs come as Canadians are experiencing their lowest fertility rate, meaning women are having the fewest children since Statistics Canada began tracking the figure, and as one in six Canadians experience fertility, according to the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS).

A recent Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News shows most Canadians are having fewer children than they would like because it’s too expensive to raise them.

While many more Canadians are delaying childbearing, Dubé said they’re also dealing with inflation, adding more financial pressure on them and their ability to have a family.

“I’m certain that people are now reconsidering and even may not being able to access those options to help them fund their fertility treatments,” she said.

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Shania Bhopa wanted to give herself options in the future, so she froze her eggs when she was 25.

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“I see myself having this two-stepped approach,” the now 26-year-old PhD student said from Hamilton, “focusing the next decade on my career and then being able to take time off and really love and enjoy the time being a mother.”

Bhopa froze and stored her unfertilized eggs, and places the cost at around $10,000 — though she says it would have been more if her parents’ insurance didn’t cover 80 per cent of the $4,000 medication.

But would she do it again now?

“I would have (made different decisions), especially seeing where the economy’s going and inflation and, being towards the end of my degree, making that next move,” Bhopa said.

Click to play video: 'Global News & Ipsos Poll on Family Expectations'
Global News & Ipsos Poll on Family Expectations

How do costs compare for IVF?

How much a Canadian pays for treatment depends on where they live, with a patchwork of different coverage or reimbursement plans covering the country.

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Ontario and Quebec cover one IVF cycle, and B.C. announced it will start doing the same in April 2025.

Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador all offer tax credits for different amounts and with different conditions.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut offer no help – and the territories don’t have any dedicated fertility clinics.

Global News looked at the costs of different fertility treatments at clinics across the country and used an internet archive to compare prices.

At its Vancouver site, Olive Fertility Centre charged $7,800 for IVF in November 2020, stating the required medication could cost between $4,000 and $7,000.

In February 2024, the clinic said IVF costs $10,150 and that medications now cost between $5,000 and $9,000.

The prices for services at Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver. Source: Olive Fertility Clinic. Accessed February 26, 2024
The price list for fertility treatments at the Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver in February 2020. Source: The Olive Fertility Clinic, accessed through the Wayback Machine.

In April 2022 IVF, (with procedures to remove the sperm and fertilize the eggs with it in the lab) at Heartland Fertility in Winnipeg cost $9,820, cryopreservation cost $1,000 and embryo storage for one year cost $420.

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Two years later, the same IVF costs $11,367.25, cryopreservation is $1,200 and embryo storage is $467.25 per year.

Calgary’s Regional Fertility Program charged $6,900 for IVF in August 2018. Retrieving and freezing eggs cost nearly as much. Storing embryos or eggs cost $252 per year.

In 2024, it charges $9,300 for IVF, $8,300 for retrieving and freezing eggs and $720 to store them or embryos for one year.

Olive, Heartland and the Ottawa Fertility Centre are operated by parent company The Fertility Partners.

Fees were and are much less in Ontario, where the province covers one round of IVF if a patient meets medical criteria.

Still, freezing eggs for non-medical reasons and storing them for a year at the Ottawa Fertility Centre cost $7,000 on Jan. 31, 2020, according to its old price list. Now, it costs $9,100.

Genetic testing for medical conditions or birth defects can cost thousands more.

Those who offer IVF say the highly complex medical procedure comes with steep costs for providers, too.

Dr. Beth Taylor with Vancouver’s Olive Fertility Centre said IVF “is a treatment that requires advanced science to help every patient realize their best chance of a healthy pregnancy and through recent years our practice has needed to adjust fees to cover rising costs.”

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Heartland’s Dr. Gordon McTavish, also via statement, pointed to the province’s fertility tax credit (40 per cent of up to $8,000 with no limit on the number of treatments a patient can claim).

“Our practice strives to contribute to growing access by investing in expanding our medical team, reducing wait times to treatment and making medical innovations available,” he wrote.

Global News contacted Calgary’s Regional Fertility Program several times but never received a response.

Dr. Doron Shmorgun at the Ottawa clinic said not all infertility challenges require IVF, and anyone with concerns should see a specialist to determine whether other options could help.

Who is seeking IVF?

The classic fertility patient, Sharma said, is someone who has been trying to conceive for either a year or six months (depending on their age) but can’t.

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She said she’s seeing more people seeking treatment for other reasons. They might be younger single women or couples wanting to freeze eggs or embryos for later use so they can focus on their careers, they might be undergoing medical treatment that prohibits them from conceiving or they might be LGBTQ2 seeking help to have a family, she said.

“The younger a woman is when she freezes her eggs or creates embryos, the higher the viability of those eggs,” she told Global News, pointing to increased risks that come with age.

Sharma, who runs a Toronto clinic, said her consultations with patients involve discussing costs and whether patients are planning on having more than one IVF cycle.

“Even if you earn a good living, spending $20,000 on a cycle without a guarantee — that’s not easy,” she told Global News, urging more government coverage for fertility treatments.

Dubé said the federal, provincial and territorial governments along with insurers and employers need to work together to provide a sustainable option for building families in Canada.

Benjamin agreed.

“I have so much love to give in the role of being a mother. And I knew I have more,” Benjamin said about wanting a second child.

Her treatment worked. She’s due in June.


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