A Toronto man’s journey to fatherhood via surrogacy in Kenya has drawn attention to the diverse ways in which people may choose to have children.
However it was also a reminder that the rules and costs around assisted reproduction may not be well known.
Here’s a look at the ins and outs of surrogacy and in vitro fertilization in Canada.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
In Canada, IVF treatments cost about $10,000 to $15,000 per cycle on average. In some cases, the cost of fertility drugs and other tests and consultations can push that cost up to around $20,000.
Four provinces currently provide financial assistance for in vitro fertilization.
In Ontario, the government provides funding for one IVF treatment cycle per patient per lifetime, including the one-at-a-time transfer of all viable embryos.
The government also covers one additional cycle if the patient is acting as a surrogate and unlimited cycles of artificial insemination (AI).
People with medical or non-medical infertility as well as single people and same-sex couples are eligible for government-funded IVF treatments. Individuals must be residents of Ontario, have a valid health card and be below 43 years old to qualify.
The province does not cover the cost of any fertility drugs that cost about $5,000 per IVF cycle and $1,000 per AI cycle. Genetic testing and storing sperm, eggs or embryos is also not covered.
There are 50 government-funded fertility clinics that are participating in the province’s fertility program. Click here for a full list of clinics.
Government-funded clinics may have wait lists and the Ministry and Health and Long-Term Care closely monitors wait-list length and average patient wait times.
Manitoba offers a fertility treatment tax credit covering 40 per cent of the cost of fertility treatments. Residents can claim up to $20,000 in eligible costs for a maximum credit of $8,000.
Individuals must be residents of Manitoba and treatment must be provided by a Manitoba licensed medical practitioner or fertility clinic.
If patients have private insurance, they may only claim the credit for expenses that were not reimbursed.
Procedures eligible for the tax credit include ovulation induction, therapeutic donor insemination (TDI), hyperstimulation/intrauterine insemination (HS/IUI), IVF and frozen embryo transfer. Click here for more on eligible procedures.
New Brunswick provides a special assistance fund for infertility treatments. It is a one-time maximum grant to offset the “financial burden of those dealing with infertility.”
The fund allows individuals to claim up to 50 per cent of eligible costs incurred for IVF or IUI and related drugs, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Patients who are full-time residents of New Brunswick with a valid Medicare card and have been diagnosed by a physician with fertility problems and received fertility treatments are eligible for the grant.
Quebec offers a tax credit for the treatment of infertility with IVF.
Quebec residents can claim up to $20,000 in eligible costs per year and the rate of the credit depends on total family income with or without a spouse, up to a maximum of 80 per cent.
The credit is applicable for a single IVF cycle for women below 36 years and no more than two IVF cycles for women 37 and older.
The credit covers costs that cannot be reimbursed by a health insurance plan and includes costs like those incurred for assessments, drugs and travel expenses.
Click here for more info on eligibility, rate of tax credit and other criteria.
Surrogacy in Canada is legal, but cannot be expressly paid for or undertaken for profit.
According to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act), paying a surrogate mother for her services is illegal. However, the act allows for “altruistic surrogacy” by a woman no younger than 21 — if a woman chooses to act as a surrogate for another family without being offered financial compensation and without the expectation of being paid.
The AHR Act states that surrogacy is not a crime. “It is paying, offering to pay or advertising that consideration will be paid to a woman for surrogacy that is illegal,” it states.
Arranging surrogacy via a third party is also considered illegal for all parties involved. Paying or accepting payment in any form, financial or otherwise, to match intended parents with a surrogate mother is prohibited and advertising such services is also prohibited.
While paying for surrogacy is not allowed, in the case of altruistic surrogacy, the act allows for out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the pregnancy to be reimbursed to the surrogate mother.
Eligible expenses include maternity clothes, cost of medications and expenses incurred while travelling for medical appointments. In addition, a surrogate mother can also be repaid for loss of wages if a doctor certifies, in writing, she needs bed rest. Almost all reimbursement requires the surrogate mother to submit receipts to the intended parent or parents.
Further, reimbursement must not involve any financial or other gain for the surrogate mother. Payment of the the surrogate mother’s mortgage, credit card bills or tuition for example, would be considered illegal.
Anyone who breaks the law under the act could be fined up to $500,000, jailed for up to 10 years or both.
For more about what is legal and illegal under the AHR Act click here.