In vitro fertilization treatments still not available in western Quebec

·3 min read
In vitro fertilization treatments still not available in western Quebec

Leonie Bourassa says time is the greatest obstacle in her dream of starting a family.

That roadblock did not budge when the Quebec government recently rejected a Gatineau, Que., fertility clinic's application that sought an ability to provide in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in western Quebec.

Bourassa said the news hit like a shockwave because she will now have to travel to Montreal for treatments, and have to restart the evaluation process with a new doctor.

"It's both financial and emotional. We're tired, it's been a long time. We've been waiting for months and now it's really sad," Bourassa said.

The Outaouais does not have a fertility clinic that provides the full range of IVF services. Procréa Gatineau, the clinic whose application was denied, said it's disappointed in the decision.

Bourassa said she's already written to Quebec's junior health and social services minister, Lionel Carmant, asking him to reconsider the decision because the service is an urgent need in the region.

"I hope they'll change their minds and help us achieve our dream to become a family, to have kids," she said,

In a statement, Carmant's office said the shortage of personnel in the health sector contributed to the decision to reject the clinic's application.

The lack of medical imaging personnel would make it hard to fill additional positions at the lab and further complicate recruitment at public health facilities in the region, according to the minister's statement.

The statement also said the decision was administrative and not political.

Don't need a lot of extra staff, clinic says

Dr. Éric Himaya, medical director at Procréa Gatineau, said the government's decision doesn't make sense to him.

"I don't need any ultrasound technicians or any additional staff except a couple of nurses," Himaya said.

"The only thing we're asking for is a permit."

WATCH | In vitro fertilization to remain unavailable in the Outaouais after clinic denied permit

Maryse Gaudreault, the provincial MNA representing Hull, said the government's decision is "backwards" and said she'll approach the minister.

"We're asking women, families, to go to Montreal to get these services — or even to go to Ottawa, where they won't qualify for the tax credits. It's unacceptable," she said in a French interview.

In a statement, the regional health authority for the Outaouais said it's too soon to provide details on any project to provide more medically-assisted fertility services in the region.

Himaya said not having the permit means Procréa Gatineau will have to leave the provincial health insurance system (Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec, or RAMQ) in order to continue offering its current services.

As of July 18, care provided at the clinic can no longer be refunded through provincial insurance, though access to tax credits will remain.

Sandrine Bédard, whose second child was conceived with the help of Procréa's Gatineau and Montreal clinics, said the loss of coverage at the local clinic will create another barrier for families with fertility issues.

"If they want to have the services here, it will cost a fortune, but if they decide to go ahead and do it they'll have to travel so much," Bédard said.

"That itself can discourage a lot of couples who are already really, really stressed. They don't deserve it. Their dream is already taken away from them. They have the right to benefit from that here."

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