Bioethics Blogs

Moving Beyond Funding: Ontario’s New IVF Policy

Vanessa Gruben argues that Ontario’s new IVF policy should take further steps to ensure the safety and well-being of women and children.


On October 1, 2015, the Ontario Ministry of Health announced its policy on in vitro fertilization (IVF) funding. Although many details of the policy are yet to be worked out, we do know that the province will provide funding for one cycle of IVF for every Ontarian. It will cover all forms of medical and social infertility, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or family status. However, only women under the age of 43 years will be eligible for IVF funding.

The policy defines one cycle as one retrieval. A retrieval may result in multiple eggs and, in turn, multiple embryos. “The funding would include the one-at-a-time transfer of all viable embryos to allow for the possibility of multiple chances for pregnancy.”

There’s much to commend in the new policy. However, in my view, two important issues must be addressed to protect the health and safety of women using fertility services and children conceived as a result of IVF.

First, the province should require clinics to collect anonymized data regarding who is using fertility services, the success rates and complications. It should also make that information available to the public. Currently, fertility clinics may provide IVF data on a voluntary basis to the Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technologies Register Plus (CARTR Plus) database. In Ontario, this data is linked with Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN). The Advisory Process for Infertility Services (a group of experts convened by the province to provide recommendations on the funding of fertility services in the province) recommended that this reporting process be mandatory.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.