“Because it’s 2015…” Those were the words spoken by Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, which reverberated through all the provinces and territories in Canada. This was, of course, in response to a question about why he decided to build his cabinet equally representing both genders. People loved it, the internet was on fire, and it was covered in news stories around the world. It was that simple sentiment, which resonated with so many, that let people know Canada felt it was time for change.
I heard Prime Minister Trudeau, loud and clear, and I fervently agreed. It’s high time things were changing around our country and why not start with cabinet parity? It’s a fantastic place to start! But, let’s not stop there. Let me get on my advocacy soap box for a moment because, in relation to infertility in Canada, “it’s time”.
It’s time for infertility treatments to be covered in all provinces. What if, in our great country, universal health care really meant that? Why does that care not extend to patients facing an infertility diagnosis who want to treat their condition? IVF is one well-known and effective treatment for infertility. Yet it isn’t covered. Patients have to pay out of pocket, often tens of thousands of dollars for one try, to receive the treatment that could help them conceive. I say treatment because it is! Infertility renders you unable to conceive. IVF, and other advanced reproductive technologies, treat that problem by allowing the couple an opportunity to become pregnant. Well established treatments for medically recognised diseases shouldn’t be on the “not covered” list in our country. Isn’t it time, now in 2016, for that to change? Don’t we have the right to receive treatment, without out-of-pocket costs, in a country that prides itself on its universal health coverage?
It’s time that we develop a greater understanding of, and start facilitating dialogue about, fertility and reproductive treatments in the media. It’s hard to believe that infertility is a real problem in our country when it doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. 1 in 6 Canadian couples are affected by an infertility diagnosis, but you rarely hear about it. I believe this is down to our Canadian politeness. Asking about someone’s sexual health isn’t really what we do here. However, maybe we should. We are a polite country but we’re also a sexually liberal one. Birth control is widely available. We have safe, legal access to abortions. Shouldn’t infertility be a priority when sexual choice and health are concerned? Isn’t it important to make the public aware of a condition that affects so many of our fellow citizens? Reproductive health should be something we’re willing to discuss openly in 2016, infertility included!
It’s time that individuals struggling through infertility are recognised for the agonizing pain they endure. According to a study, conducted at Harvard, infertility patients have the same level of mental anguish about their diagnosis as cancer patients and those living with chronic pain. When you are handed an infertility diagnosis your mental health suffers! The Prime Minister is pushing forward with his plan to make mental health a priority during his term, wonderful, this is needed by so many Canadians. But has that extended to mental health initiatives that would apply to the infertile among us? Trudeau has spoken openly about depression, bi-polar disorder, and eating disorders. He could add infertility to that discussion, easily. Make us visible! Our system should be set up to accommodate the mental health costs for people trying to hold onto sanity, month after month, while they struggle to conceive. Isn’t it time that we are recognised by mental health initiatives? Isn’t it time our sanity was worth it?
So, won’t you join me up on my soap box? If you suffer with infertility we need to raise our voices loud so that the government can’t ignore us. And luckily for us, right now, you can! Around Canada it’s census time. The easiest way to signal to the government that we’re here, and deserve these changes, is to mark it on your census. You can literally do it from the comfort of your own home. I’m not asking you to rally, or write to an MLA, or go on the news and speak about it. Simply, mark down infertility on your census form under medical conditions. In doing this the true number of affected Canadians will be visible to our government. The true number of Canadians suffering through infertility will be acknowledged. Let us not be easily ignored! Let us be visible!
Raise your hand, as others raise their voices, show that this affects you!
Raise your hand, while I raise my voice, as we demand that Canada do better!
Because it IS time, Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau, it’s 2016 and, frankly, it is beyond time. Infertility needs to be addressed now. It has been time for years… Let’s get started.
Kaeleigh MacDonald, AKA: Unpregnant Chicken