Islanders seeking fertility treatment will be able to apply for new provincial funding starting Jan. 1.
Friday, the province posted new details of a fertility support program it announced in November, that will provide up to $10,000 for in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and associated medications at out-of-province clinics.
"I think it's fantastic that P.E.I. has recognized a need for this," said Ashley Schurman, adding it's not a moment too soon — she said at age 36, time is precious.
"Any time waiting is that much longer when your internal clock is ticking."
She and her husband already have a daughter, now four years old, conceived using fertility drugs.The couple is now trying again to get pregnant.
''It does cause some stress just wondering, you know, that you can't progress until January, and then January — how long is the process to get the application? And how long is the wait to get the funding, right? There's a lot of questions on how long it could delay things before you can get any treatment."
Sliding scale of funding
The province has posted details of how the program will work, including dollar figures.
Families earning under $50,000 will receive up to $10,000 a year.
Families earning $50,000 to $100,000 can receive up to $7,500 a year.
Families with income above $100,000 can receive up to $5,000 a year.
The funding is available each year for up to three years for one successful pregnancy or up to three attempts. Those receiving treatment must be a permanent P.E.I. resident and have a valid health card.
Schurman and her husband did three rounds of intrauterine insemination, or IUI, earlier this year at a private clinic in Moncton, which was not successful. That cost about $3,500.
Now they have only a more expensive option left to them — in vitro fertilization, or IVF — but that costs four times as much: about $14,000 to $15,000, she said.
"IVF was not a venue that we were going to go ahead with, because of the financial burden. This has sort of cracked the door open a little bit now, to consider it because there's now some financial aid," Schurman said. "It's a big decision ... even with this funding."
'Thrilled for our patients'
There's a Facebook support group for Islanders trying to conceive. Organizers say membership has increased since the announcement was made, and they say they're working with the province to provide more supports on P.E.I.
A fertility clinic in Halifax, Atlantic Assisted Reproductive Therapies, is a non-profit and provides services at cost.
"We're thrilled for our patients who are coming from P.E.I.," said the clinic's CEO Julie Keizer of the funding announcement.
"This is going to mean a lot to the one in six couples that face infertility and also to other couples that access our services like same-sex couples, as well as those going through gender transition, and those who are undergoing treatment for cancer, and additionally, single people."
She said about 50 Islanders come to the clinic for consultations every year. About 10 go on to have IUI, and 15 to 20 do IVF, she said.
Keizer said the clinic could easily handle twice as many Islanders. She calls the P.E.I. funding "generous" and said government funding is a trend across Canada.
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