04/10/2014 10:41 EDT | Updated 06/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Ontario proposes to pay for in vitro fertilization

Ontario's governing Liberals are proposing to help pay for one cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) per patient for all forms of infertility, a move they say will cost the province about $50 million a year.

Under the Liberal proposal, patients or their health plans will continue to pay the cost of the medication and other services associated with IVF. The government proposes to fund one cycle, one embryo of IVF treatment. 

During IVF, an egg is retrieved from the woman's body, fertilized by sperm outside the body and the resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus for implantation. IVF treatments at a private clinic can cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Health Minister Deb Matthews made the announcement Thursday, which was widely expected after details of the Liberals' series of pre-budget announcements were leaked last week by the Progressive Conservatives.

Matthews admitted the Liberals' plan for IVF funding is far less generous than Quebec's, which currently pays for three rounds of IVF.

Matthews told reporters the government will consider rules requiring that all IVF treatment be restricted to single-embryo implants, a move she said will reduce the health care costs associated with increased multiple births.

A government news release says the province will establish an advisory body that includes medical experts to review specifics about how the program is implemented.

The provinces estimates that one in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their lives.