03/14/2015 04:23 EDT | Updated 05/14/2015 05:59 EDT

Quebec IVF program important for families, advocates say

Supporters of Quebec's free in-vitro fertilization program marched through Montreal on Saturday to protest against a bill that would end public payment for most couples.

About 500 protesters  — including men, women and even babies in strollers — braved the sleet to take part, arguing cutting back on publicly-funded treatment would hurt families in the province.

The proposed legislation would end publicly-funded IVF treatment for most couples and would forbid any woman over 42 from seeking fertility treatment, even if she was able to pay for it.

The changes are included in Bill 20, a controversial health bill tabled near the end of this fall's legislative session at Quebec’s National Assembly.

Premier Philippe Couillard said Saturday the bill has already been thoroughly studied.

He said with other tax credits available, IVF treatment in Quebec will remain far more accessible than anywhere else in the country.