I was happy to join the troops for NIAW in the US, but Canada does have it’s own (albeit with much less clout than Resolve) infertility awareness association as well, and our Canadian Infertility Awareness Week starts tomorrow! I wanted to put a post out today to encourage of my fellow Canadians out there to join in, because this one is for us!
The IAAC (Infertility Awareness Association of Canada) has issued a challenge for our CIAW that you can check out here. It is similar to Resolves campaign to know more, in that they are asking people to spread awareness. There are also events being hosted in cities across Canada. Unfortunately there is not much going on in my own city, but I am hoping next year to get involved earlier and maybe start something more here.
Although I do not share my infertility story publicly (with people who know me in real life at least), I do try to raise awareness in other ways. The IAAC offers several ways you can raise awareness such as using social media, blogging, dropping of information at a local doctors office or medical clinic, as well as many other suggestions. Here’s what I’ve been doing to help grow knowledge, understanding and awareness.
I recently sent a letter to my local MLA through the Calgary based organization Generations of Hope, as they have a tool to find your MLA and a standard form letter to use. If you live in Alberta (or even other parts of Canada, you can still use the standard letter, just adjust it to fit you province) I encourage you to reach out to your local representative. I sent this email in early April, not expecting anything of it, but it made me feel like I was doing something. Much to my surprise (and delight), a representative from my MLA’s office emailed me back, and here is what she had to say;
“On behalf of [name removed], MLA, thank you for taking the time to write us on this issue. [Local MLA] and NDP Opposition are in favour of including IVF under the public medicare umbrella. Our health critic, David Eggen, has brought this issue up in the budget estimates on health this past sitting. I have included the link below for the full context of the conversation (Dave Eggen’s question can be found on page FC406), as well as the excerpt of his question specifically.http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/committees/fc/legislature_28/session_2/20140319_1530_01_fc.pdf“My second question is quite specific. I’m looking in this newbudget here for any new funding in regard to in vitro fertilization.It’s a procedure that has been considered elective here in Alberta,but I know that there’s been a lot of pressure across the countryand specific to Alberta to include it as part of our public healthsystem in some form. In vitro fertilization can have the benefit ofcontrolling this procedure quite a lot more and has shown ademonstrable reduction in the requirement of using neonatal unitsand extra care and other health benefits, that ultimately results ineconomic benefits, too. I was watching to see, because just beforethe budget there was some talk about this, and I just haven’t seenwhere there might be even a pilot project to start to include invitro fertilization as part of our public health system.”
Thank you again for taking the time to write to us. Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions or concerns.”
I am so happy to hear that, for one, my local MLA supports IVF coverage and that their political party is actively trying to do something about it. I know Ontario just approved coverage for (I believe) one cycle of IVF under provincial health care. It is a step in the right direction, even though it’s not in my province. Hopefully this will create a domino effect across the country, with mounting pressure on other provinces (including Alberta) to offer coverage.
Generations of Hope also has started a petition for government funding of infertility treatment, and they have the form available on their website, asking people to collect six signatures (or more) and submit it to them. If you live in Alberta, I urge you to collect as many as you can. I am going to try and put myself outside of my comfort zone in the near future, and ask some of my family to sign it for me (probably just those who know about our IF already, for now). But including myself, J, his parents and siblings, and my mom that’s 8 signatures. Hopefully someday (soon) when I feel comfortable being open about our IF I will hit up every person I know!
My employer also just recently issued their annual employee satisfaction survey, and there is a section asking about the benefits that my company offers. They have an option to comment after each topic and here was what I wrote in regards to insurance coverages;
“I feel that it is unfair and discriminatory that infertility procedures and medications are not covered under any level of [my employer] benefits plan. Infertility medications are in fact the only prescriptions that the benefits policy explicitly excludes. Even smoking cessation has some coverage; smoking, which is a personal choice, not a medical condition. The emotional toll of infertility has been compared to that of having cancer, and therefore would negatively affect an employees quality of life and mental wellbeing drastically. Infertility is a disease, and should be treated as such by not being excluded from coverage.”
I felt satisfaction over being able to give my opinion to my employer, even if they do just toss it. I hope that even one person reads it and takes the time to stop and consider infertility as a disease.
So let’s band together Canucks, and raise awareness in Canada, and our local areas!