Advocates pleased with new fertility program offering $10K a year to Island families

·2 min read

Islanders trying to conceive will soon be able to get financial support for fertility treatments and medications at off-Island clinics.

"It's the first time on P.E.I. that the Islanders will have this very important support to gain access to fertility services," said P.E.I. Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward, who made the announcement Friday.

The new program will provide up to $10,000 a year to people who travel off-Island for fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination and associated medications.

"It's open to any eligible Islander couple that that needs a service, that requires a service and has that desire to start or grow a family," said Aylward.

No fertility treatments on P.E.I.

The funding will be based on family income. A family can access the maximum amount of financial support for up to three years. Aylward said there is currently no cap on the number of people who can access it.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

"Typically costs run from $11,000 to $20,000 for one cycle. So that's one cycle of IVF," said Dr. Maeghan Keddy, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Charlottetown, at Friday's announcement.

Today's announcement will definitely ease some of the financial burden for me, my partner. — Ashlee London

While initial testing can be done on P.E.I., fertility treatments like IVF and IUI aren't currently available on the Island.

"It would be very difficult to have a full IVF clinic on the Island because of the cost, the equipment, the technicians and everything that is needed," said Keddy. "It really is something you need a minimum number of cycles a year to make this cost-efficient, and I think that would be very challenging for an Island of P.E.I.'s size"

'Very, very welcomed'

Ten to 15 per cent of all couples have fertility problems, Keddy said. Islanders make up eight to 10 per cent of the IVF treatments done in Halifax.

Ashlee London is an advocate for fertility services on P.E.I. and was invited to today's announcement. London says she has been trying to get pregnant for three years using fertility treatments.

"I think today's announcement will definitely ease some of the financial burden for me, my partner, my husband," she said.

"[It] is so exciting and very, very welcomed by the fertility community here in P.E.I. — it's been a long time coming."

The fertility support program is set to begin in Jan. 2021.

"This is just the start. The conversations are ongoing," Aylward promised.

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