Advocates hope Alberta will follow other provinces and fund fertility treatments

Click to play video: 'Why doesn’t Alberta cover fertility treatments? Advocates fight for provincial funding'
Why doesn’t Alberta cover fertility treatments? Advocates fight for provincial funding
Fertility treatments can end up being tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and are not covered by Alberta Health — and advocates say the cost can be the biggest reason people do follow through with IVF, IUI or other medical aid to get pregnant. As Quinn Ohler explains, they're pushing the province to follow others in covering some of the expenses of trying to start a family – Apr 23, 2024

A survey by Fertility Alberta shows cost is a major barriers for many people who are struggling to start a family.

The advocacy and outreach group surveyed nearly 650 Albertans in September 2023. It found that 74 per cent of people asked did not proceed with fertility treatments because of cost and 90 per cent of those respondents said financial help from the provincial government would have enabled them to try.

“We think it’s really important that our government says this is important to Albertans,” said Dr. Ariana Daniel with Alberta Reproductive Centre. “We’d really like our government to step up and either offer IVF coverage, tax exemptions… offer something to patients to allow them to seek the care they need and have the child or children they want.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” Daniel added. “The situation is not something people did. This is a medical issue.”

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Albertans do not receive any funding for IVF.  When contacted by Global News to see if there were changes being considered, the province responded with an emailed statement saying they will “continue to accept valuable feedback from Albertans” as they “continuously review the treatments” covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP).

“Alberta’s government understands that fertility treatment can be expensive for Albertans wishing to start or expand their families and appreciates advocacy on behalf of families that are facing these circumstances.”

The Alberta Reproductive Centre opened in Edmonton in 2023 in an effort to increase access for patients to fertility care.

Daniel said her clients range from couples trying to conceive to members of the LGBTQ+ community and those looking for fertility preservation services for those undergoing cancer treatments.

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Daniel said that infertility impacts 17 per cent of the population.

“That means everyone watching today knows somebody struggling, whether they’re open about it or not,” she said.

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

One of those patients is Devonee Gilson. She and her husband have been trying to have children for more than seven years and they’ve so far spent more than $100,000 on treatments.

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“With us, along this journey we have had to save so much money,” she said. “We’re ones that don’t want to go fully into debt to have these treatments.”

Gilson has been capturing her journey with unexplained infertility on her Instagram page, @ivfgotyou in hopes of helping others who are going through something similar.

“Trying to conceive for us has been very trying,” she said. “It’s been exhausting… financially, emotionally exhausting.”

She said she felt alone in her journey and turned to social media to find a community.

“What I realized is that maybe there were people around me when I was initially going through it, but were just silent sufferers like myself,” Gilson said. “You can be lost and you want to give up, but I’m here to continue.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. to begin funding IVF treatments'
B.C. to begin funding IVF treatments

Earlier this year British Columbia announced it would be joining Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec in funding in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments starting in April 2025.

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That province will fully fund one round of IVF treatments for British Columbians who need help to start a family. The program, estimated to cost $34 million per year, will not be means-tested and will cover both treatment and medication for a single cycle.

April 21-27 marks Canadian Fertility Awareness Week.

Alberta Reproductive Centre is teaming up with Whole Family Health for several events to bring awareness to the issue.

Click to play video: 'For families struggling with infertility, IVF access poses more difficulty: experts'
For families struggling with infertility, IVF access poses more difficulty: experts

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