...things may be changing. (Of course, it's only an election promise at this point... but...)
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Charest pledges to fund in-vitro fertilization
Opposition parties pan move as election ploy
Nov 18, 2008 04:30 AM
Andrew Chung Quebec Bureau Chief
MONTREAL–After his government long insisted that infertility wasn't an illness and refused to pay for in-vitro fertilization treatment, Premier Jean Charest did an about-face yesterday.
Charest promised that if his Liberal party were returned to power in the Dec. 8 election, in-vitro fertilization would become a publicly funded medical service under Quebec's health-insurance plan.
Quebec's two opposition parties panned the $35 million pledge as a copycat idea, too late in coming.
But for Charest, it's a plan that would place Quebec at the forefront in Canada of fully funded assisted reproduction, and boost the province's mini baby boom. The Liberals believe Quebec could see an additional 1,500 babies born each year through funded in-vitro fertilizations.
Under the new regime, the first two in-vitro treatments would be covered. After that, couples still needing treatment would be able to count on a 50 per cent tax credit, already in place.
Ontario funds three courses of in-vitro fertilization treatment, but only if the woman's fallopian tubes are blocked.
Other provinces offer "zero," according to Dr. Seang Lin Tan, medical director of the McGill Reproductive Centre in Montreal. Tan said if Charest's plan is implemented, Quebec will become the most generous province when it comes to such treatment.
A cycle of in-vitro treatment costs about $5,500 in Canada, plus up to $4,000 for drugs used in the process.
Canada has one of the lowest rates of in-vitro fertilization treatments in the developed world, partly because of cost, and the availability of treatment only in urban centres, Tan said.
Action démocratique du Québec Leader Mario Dumont said Charest lacked honour because for the last year he has panned the ADQ's idea to fund in-vitro fertilization.
The Parti Québécois asked why Charest would do this now, after so much time refusing the same.
"Having waited for an election campaign to respond to this legitimate demand from people suffering from infertility demonstrates the cynicism of Jean Charest," said Dr. Réjean Hébert, dean of the University of Sherbrooke's faculty of medicine and a PQ candidate.
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Another article, same subject. (But are they funding treatment, or tests?? The reporter needs to get his facts & terminology straight...):
Quebec may cover in-vitro treatments
Nov 17, 2008 05:58 PM
Nelson Wyatt THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL – Already rich with a history of policy-makers encouraging baby-makers, Quebec could become the first province to pay entirely for in-vitro fertilization treatment under an election promise made today by the governing Liberals.
Premier Jean Charest has joined a long line of Quebec political and religious leaders to play a role in family planning.
The Roman Catholic Church spent centuries imploring Quebecers to reproduce as their religious duty. Liberal premier Robert Bourassa introduced so-called baby bonuses in the 1970s. More recently the ADQ party has urged the government to pay for fertility treatments.
Now the ADQ says Charest has stolen its idea by promising parents two free fertility tests, courtesy of the Quebec government.
Opposition Leader Mario Dumont says he's happy to see help for people who have troubling conceiving a baby, but he castigated Charest for the sudden policy shift. He noted that the premier has spent a year torpedoing the suggestion.
"He's trying to be a progressive hero but for 12 months, he was trying to bury this," Dumont said in Joliette, north of Montreal. ``I hate personal attacks in an election campaign but I have to say that Jean Charest is shameless."
Charest announced the help as part of his health-care platform in the campaign for the Dec. 8 election, dovetailing it with his emphasis on the economy as the No. 1 issue for voters.
It's a tactic that plays to polls that have indicated the economy and health care are actually tied neck-and-neck in terms of priorities for Quebecers.
"When I say `the economy is first,' I also want to say `the economy and health, the economy and education' and `the economy for all Quebecers to live better'," Charest told a group of supporters.
Charest announced several financial incentives to keep nurses in the public sector and plans to boost the number of family doctors and encourage more medical students to choose family medicine as their specialty.
Quebec already offers a 50 per cent tax credit for families who need fertility treatments but Charest announced Monday that if his team is re-elected, the first two tests would be covered by the provincial health plan.
Parents who wish to keep trying in the event of failure would be covered by the tax credit for further treatments.
The Liberals estimated that 1,500 births annually would be generated by the plan, with costs estimated at about $35 million per year.
The plan is a reversal from a stand taken by Philippe Couillard when he was health minister last year. Couillard opposed covering the cost of treatments because he said infertility isn't an illness. Couillard isn't running in this election.
Beverly Hanck of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada praised the Liberal plan and said it's a one-of-a-kind in Canada.
"It's wonderful," she said. "Quebec is the only province that is doing anything substantial for patients so they're really leading the parade in that."
Hanck, the executive director of the Montreal-based organization, said she has been working with other provinces on the issue, although money has always been a sticking point. Ontario and Alberta are also considering bringing in some kind of help.
Hanck praised the refundable Quebec tax credit, although she said she would like to see it raised even further.
"All of Canada has a total fertility rate of about 1.5 and you need 2.1 to be replacing your population," she said.
"I think politicians are very foolish not to be looking at this," said Hanck, although she praised the Quebec parties for their attentiveness to the issue.
Birth rate has long been an issue for Quebec, most famously in the pre-Quiet Revolution period when Quebecers were urged to have babies in a symbolic settling of scores for the conquest of 1760.
That so-called 'Revenge of the Cradles' had come to an end by the end of 1960s, as Quebec underwent an abrupt transformation from its religious, largely rural past where giant families were the norm.
Within a generation such traditions were replaced by a largely secular Quebec, increasingly urban, and with one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
But the latest trend has seen a small-scale baby boom, with an eight per cent jump in 2006, the biggest birth-rate hike since 1909. In 2005, there were 1,700 fertility treatments, costing between $10,000 and $20,000 per treatment.
Dumont didn't dwell on the fertility issue, however. His main focus on Monday was crime....