For todays Charitable Choices we spoke with Tara Wood, the President of Conceivable Dreams Est. 2006. A non-profit, volunteer based organization here in Ontario.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Conceivable Dreams is a non-profit patient advocacy group that aims to make fertility treatment more accessible and affordable. We are all volunteers who feel passionately about this issue and hope to make meaningful change.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Our overall goal at Conceivable Dreams is to make fertility treatment more accessible and affordable by working with government, physicians, businesses, patients and other stakeholders.
On February 2, we launched a new campaign: Fertility Benefits Matter, aimed at improving fertility benefits because we believe any Canadian that needs help building their family should be able to get it.
Cost is a huge barrier when you can’t conceive naturally, and there is little public or private funding. For instance, In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most effective treatment and one cycle costs on average $20,000 and most people need more than one to achieve pregnancy. This means families often have to rely on savings or investments, leverage equity, or take out a loan.
New research finds that the majority of employers in Canada also do not cover any fertility treatment or drugs as part of their benefit plans. And the ones that do provide coverage offer insufficient annual or lifetime coverage with an average benefit of $3,250.
We hope to change this.
When did you start/join it?
I joined the Conceivable Dreams board in 2017 and became the president of the board in 2018.
What made you want to get involved?
In 2016, I discovered that I had infertility issues after trying to get pregnant. Fertility treatment is a hard journey mentally, physically and financially, and I knew we could make it easier on people trying to make a family. My background is in public affairs and communications, so advocacy is very important to me.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I joined the board, only three provinces offered public funding for fertility treatment. The conversation around fertility treatment was very taboo and secretive.
How has it changed since?
Today five provinces offer some type of public funding for fertility treatment. In fact, both Quebec and PEI launched programs in 2020. In January, Ontario celebrated the five-year anniversary of the Ontario Fertility Program, which funds one round of IVF.
And slowly but surely, the topic is becoming less taboo. The more we share openly and recognize many people are facing these struggles, the less stigma this topic carries.
In the past year, Manulife and Telus have launched robust fertility benefit plans for employees – following in the footsteps of companies like Starbucks, setting a great example for other Canadian companies to follow suit.
What more needs to be done?
Employers have an opportunity to lead, to break this silence and to give a voice to Canadians struggling by offering assistance to their entire workforce while ensuring that they attract and retain great talent. A benefit consultant can show a company how to improve fertility benefits as part of a plan.
It’s also important to recognize that change requires a team approach to fertility, including governments, physicians, businesses and each of us. Everyone has a role to play, and together, we can continue this dialogue to achieve meaningful change. Today employers can be those leaders helping employees and setting the stage for more inclusive policies to come.
How can our readers help?
Your readers can help by downloading the employee toolkit at FertilityBenefits.ca and starting a conversation with their HR department about improving the company’s employer benefits.
Do you have any events coming up?
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
This charity supports people financially who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment often means that people can’t work and force higher costs for drugs, travel etc., this charity helps people with minimal means get through these challenging times by helping pay their bills for housing, food, etc., while they are in treatment. In fact, 40% of the people they support are single moms.