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Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption in Ontario
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Expert Panel Releases Report on Infertility and Adoption in Ontario

-- Centralized adoption agency and funding for IVF among key recommendations --

TORONTO, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - After a year of multi-disciplinary study, Ontario's Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption today released its report on the current state of Ontario's adoption and assisted reproduction systems. The report, entitled Raising Expectations, makes detailed recommendations to help Ontarians build families by improving the systems.

"Bold changes are needed," says David Johnston, Chair of the Expert Panel. "Ontario's adoption and assisted reproduction systems are not working as well as they could - and should - for children and families. There are many dedicated, courageous, and committed people providing and using services in both systems but the structures, policies, laws and costs are barriers."

The report sets out an ambitious agenda for change, with recommendations that address the current barriers by empowering Ontarians, intervening early, and improving access to services.

The Panel's recommendations include:

  • 1. Create a provincial adoption agency with a local service presence to offer and manage public adoption services from system entry to post- adoption
  • 2. Set consistent policy, standards and oversight for all adoption services
  • 3. Overhaul Ontario's adoption legislation to address gaps and barriers in the public, private domestic and intercountry adoption systems and better support concurrent adoption planning for Crown wards
  • 4. Make Crown wards with court-ordered access to their birth families legally free for adoption
  • 5. Provide funding for adoption subsidies and supports for former Crown wards with special needs
  • 6. Provide fertility education and monitoring at the primary care level to help people make informed family building choices
  • 7. Require all in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics and fertility centres to be accredited and, as a condition of accreditation, require clinics to reduce their multiple birth rate to 15% within 5 years and 10% within 10 years
  • 8. Provide public funding for three cycles of IVF under certain conditions, including covering the costs of ancillary services that are required
  • 9. Reduce social and legal barriers to assisted reproduction so that Ontarians who could benefit from services are able to do so.

    In addition, the Expert Panel calls for the Government to provide more and better information, raise awareness and develop education programs to help Ontarians access adoption and assisted reproduction services more quickly and easily.

    "The Panel's recommendations can help Ontario seize the opportunity to become the best jurisdiction in which to build a family, in Canada and the world," says Johnston. "We see the public release of our report as the launch of the necessary awareness campaign. To maintain momentum, the government must move now to put the other necessary components in place."

    The full report is available at www.ontario.ca/creatingfamilies. Interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to link to it with any relevant web site.

    Additional Facts

  • - 1 in 6 - Ontario couples who struggle with infertility in their lifetime
  • - 1,600 - approximate number of children adopted into Ontario families each year through the province's three adoption services - public, private domestic and intercountry
  • - 9,400 - approximate number of Crown wards in 2007-08, but only 822 adopted
  • - Ontario's current adoption system is fragmented, complex and time- consuming, failing to quickly connect waiting children with potential families
  • - Children who need families - particularly older children and youth - are often stuck in Ontario's child welfare system. Many of them have court-ordered access to their birth families that prevents them from being adopted
  • - The single greatest barrier to assisted reproduction services is the cost. Most procedures are not covered by OHIP and are beyond the reach of most Ontarians
  • - Clinics and fertility centers are not required to be accredited and people don't know where to go for the best care
  • - The high cost of assisted reproduction services is leading to decisions which result in an unacceptably high rate of multiple births in Ontario - this threatens mothers' and children's health and well-being and results in high hospital and other health costs
  • - Ontarians face other barriers accessing assisted reproduction services: some live too far from the small number of clinics, others - such as single people and same-sex couples - face social and legal barriers, and the stigma associated with infertility keeps many Ontarians from seeking help

    About the Expert Panel

    In 2007, the Ontario Government made a commitment to help Ontarians who struggle to build their families. In July 2008, the Government of Ontario appointed the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption to help provide advice on how to improve access to assisted reproduction services and Ontario's adoption system. The report "Raising Expectations" represents the independent views of the Expert Panel and has been presented to the Government for consideration.

    The Expert Panel is made up of 11 members including reproductive endocrinologists, specialists in counselling, family medicine, complementary therapies and adoption; lawyers and business executives; people who have experienced infertility and/or used assisted reproduction first hand; and adoptive parents. The Panel was chosen to bring a breadth and depth of expertise and perceptions in the study areas relating to infertility, assisted reproduction and adoption.

    The Expert Panel's Methodology

    The Panel worked for a period of a year through a multi-disciplinary methodology to understand the challenges that Ontarians face when trying to build families through adoption or assisted reproduction. The study included an online survey of the public and a range of stakeholders, as well as in-person or telephone interviews of users of the adoption and/or assisted reproduction services. The Panel Members also reviewed literature on related subjects; examined policies and programs of other jurisdictions; conducted qualitative surveys of current key service providers; and reviewed presentations from experts and stakeholders in the field.

    For further information: or to schedule an interview with a representative of the Expert Panel, please contact David Johnston at (416) 212-2208 .

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