It is estimated that up to one in eight Canadian couples experiences infertility. Increasingly, Canadians experiencing infertility as well as single parents and same-sex couples are turning to assisted human reproduction (AHR) procedures to help build their families.
Since the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies tabled its report in 1993, the federal government has been working to develop a legislative framework to protect the health and safety, rights and dignity of Canadians who use these technologies. Actions taken by Health Canada have included the introduction of a voluntary moratorium on nine problematic AHR activities in 1995, and passage of the Processing and Distribution of Semen for Assisted Conception Regulations under the Food and Drugs Act in 1996. On March 29, 2004, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act received Royal Assent. The Act provided for the development of a federal regulatory agency responsible for licensing, inspection and enforcement activities controlled under the Act. Assisted Human Reproduction Canada was established by the Government on January 12, 2006, and a Board of Directors was appointed on December 21, 2006. On December 1, 2007, the first set of regulations of the Act came into effect (Section 8), prohibiting the use of human reproductive material for the purpose of creating an embryo and the use of in vitro embryos for any purpose, unless written consent is provided by the donor.
The AHR Act is one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation in the world concerning reproductive technologies and related research. The legislation has three objectives: it prohibits human cloning and other unacceptable activities; it seeks to protect the health and safety of Canadians who use AHR procedures; and it requires that AHR related research, which may help find treatments for infertility and diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, takes place in a controlled environment.
This Web site serves as a source of information to stakeholders and other interested parties regarding the development of AHR policy and regulations under the Act.
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