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Free IVF in British Columbia will ‘save marriages,’ says father of two

VANCOUVER — Liam Iliffe says he was almost brought to tears when he heard British Columbia was introducing one free cycle of invitro fertilization treatment for anyone who wants to start a family.

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy says the measure in the B.C. budget will be available to everyone, regardless of income, “who they love, or whether they have a partner.”

Victoria resident Iliffe and wife Sheena McConnell have two girls, aged four and one, both conceived as a result of IVF.

He says they had a “five-year struggle” to try to start a family naturally, before turning to IVF and raising $17,000 to pay for the first round of treatment.

He says the budget commitment will “save marriages,” and give people the confidence that they can afford to have kids.

The government says the program will cost $68 million over three years, and become available in April 2025.

Similar programs are already available in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba

“To have government cover that (first cycle) cost … we would have been able to have children way earlier, way sooner, and with way more confidence,” Iliffe said.

He works in the energy industry and attended the budget lockup in Victoria on Thursday as an industry stakeholder, while McConnell is a former press secretary for ex-premier John Horgan.

Iliffe said it was coincidental that he was in attendance when the IVF policy was announced.

He said he and McConnell had “coached” friends and acquaintances through IVF. He said he hoped B.C.’s free IVF plan would relieve the significant “emotional burdens” for others trying to start families.

The commitment to one free cycle of treatment is particularly significant, said Iliffe, because the first cycle is the costliest — he and McConnell’s second cycle cost $2,800.

“So, it cost us about $20,000 for two kids,” he said.

Conroy said in her budget speech Thursday that the IVF plan would be “welcome news for many.”

“Whether it’s a person looking to have a child on their own, people who are experiencing infertility or a same-sex couple who has tried other methods. This will help more people on the path to parenthood,” she said.

Conroy, who has four children and nine grandchildren, said big family dinners and grandparenthood had been a joy to her.

“Everyone who wants to have a child should have the opportunity to do so,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2024.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


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