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This article was published 17/5/2010 (2654 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THOSE desperate to have children have been known to take on a second mortgage or sell their home to purchase costly fertility treatments.
But with a new family-friendly tax credit, the Selinger government wants to ease the economic hardship of costly procedures such as in vitro fertilization, which can cost $8,000 to $12,000 per treatment cycle.
The new Fertility Treatment Tax Credit, which takes effect Oct. 1, will provide couples with 40 per cent credit on eligible expenses up to $20,000 a year for a maximum benefit of $8,000. Combined with existing provincial and federal tax credits, Manitobans could have up to two-thirds of their fertility treatment expenses reimbursed.
"If money has been the barrier to families being able to do exactly what they've always dreamed of doing, maybe this is going to lessen that burden," Health Minister Theresa Oswald said Monday.
She said the province might fully fund fertility treatments in the future, a move that would cost millions of dollars. The province estimates the new tax credit will cost it about $800,000 a year.
Paula Chorney, a Manitoba board member of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, said the tax credit will come as a big relief to many couples.
"Infertility is a life-stresser that is all-consuming," said Chorney, who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2005.
"We saved. We were fortunate to have good jobs, both of us. We used our line of credit," she said of her own experience. Fortunately, the couple only required one treatment cycle. Some couples spend $20,000 to $30,000 or more on IVF.
Dr. Gordon McTavish, a partner in the Heartland Fertility and Gynecology Clinic on Portage Avenue, said his clinic will take on more staff to meet the expected increase in demand. He said the clinic was already expanding before the province announced it would introduce a tax credit in its March 23 budget.
"Despite an economy that took a (negative) turn in 2008, the number of cycles of IVF that we did increased by 20 to 30 per cent," McTavish said.
"We know that on average, a population of a million could potentially support a 600-cycle-a year IVF program. Currently we're doing 180 to 200," he said. His clinic, the sole accredited IVF provider in the province, currently has a six-month waiting list.
In addition to in vitro fertilization, the new tax credit will apply to a broad range of fertility services and procedures, including drug therapies to encourage ovulation and insemination procedures.
McTavish said he expects the new tax credit will cause more people to ask if they're good candidates for IVF, but he doesn't believe it will produce a flood of new clients. "It's not going to help everybody and it's not for everybody."