Bioethics Blogs

Clarifying the AHR Act After 12 Long Years

Alana Cattapan calls on Health Canada to ensure substantive public engagement including surrogates and gamete donors in policymaking on assisted reproduction.


On October 1, 2016 the Government of Canada announced that it will be introducing regulations to clarify and implement the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (2004), twelve years after its passage. In addition to improving screening and testing for gamete donors, the new regulations will “clarify eligible reimbursable expenses for parties involved in surrogacy arrangements, and semen and ova donation.”

Currently, reimbursements of “expenditures” for surrogates, sperm donors, and egg donors can occur when receipts are available “in accordance with the regulations.” However, since the passage of the Act there have been no regulations. As a result, it has been unclear whether, how, and for what reimbursements can occur. The new regulations will provide guidance about what is a legitimate expense under the law, ensuring that people helping others have a child are not out of pocket in doing so. Presuming that they are enforced, the regulations should also work to ensure that reimbursements to surrogates and gamete donors occur within the bounds of the law.

While clarity in the Act’s provisions on reimbursements is an important goal, the process being used to develop the regulations has continued the long-standing practice of failing to include surrogates and gamete donors in policy consultations.

The announcement of the proposed regulations follows a controversial consultation process about the reimbursement of expenditures under the Act. In 2015, Health Canada asked the Canadian Standards Association to develop voluntary standards on the reimbursement of expenditures in accordance with the Act.

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.