Key laws and policies
- Provincial and territory laws are also relevant.
Canada grounded the provisions of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 2004 in an explicit "declaration of principles":
- The health and well-being of children born through the application of assisted human reproductive technologies must be given priority in all decisions respecting their use.
- The benefits of assisted human reproductive technologies and related research for individuals, for families, and for society in general can be most effectively secured by taking appropriate measures for the protection and promotion of human health, safety, dignity, and rights in the use of these technologies and in related research.
- While all persons are affected by these technologies, women more than men are directly and significantly affected by their application, and the health and well-being of women must be protected in the application of these technologies.
- The principle of free and informed consent must be promoted and applied as a fundamental condition of the use of human reproductive technologies.
- Persons who seek to undergo assisted reproduction procedures must not be discriminated against, including on the basis of their sexual orientation or marital status.
- Trade in the reproductive capabilities of women and men and the exploitation of children, women, and men for commercial ends raise health and ethical concerns that justify their prohibition.
- Human individuality and diversity, and the integrity of the human genome, must be preserved and protected.
Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits:
- Creating human clonal embryos, or implanting these into human beings, animals, or artificial devices
- Creating IVF embryos for any purpose other than reproduction or reproduction research
- Creating embryos from cells or parts of cells for the purpose of creating a human being (i.e, no parthenogenic children)
- Keeping IVF embryos alive beyond 14 days (excluding time preserved by freezing)
- Conducting sex selection via PGD except to "prevent, diagnose or treat a sex-linked disorder or disease"
- Conducting germline modification for any purpose
- Inserting non-human sperm, eggs, or embryos into a human being
- Creating children using embryos or reproductive materials that have been transplanted into non-human life forms
- Creating human/non-human chimeras, or transplanting these into humans or non-human life forms
- Creating human/non-human hybrids for reproduction, or transplanting such hybrids into human or non-human life forms
- Paying surrogate mothers or those who arrange surrogate services
- Women under age 21 serving as surrogate mothers
- Purchasing or selling eggs, sperm, or embryos
- Purchasing or selling genes or cells intended to be used for reproductive purposes
- Obtaining eggs or sperm from people under age 18 except for preservation or the creation of a human being that will be raised by the donor
- Creating an embryo without the written consent of those donating the eggs and sperm
- Using a donated embryo for any purpose without the written consent of the donor to its use for that purpose
- Removing reproductive material from a deceased person without the prior written consent of that person
Note: The Assisted Human Reproduction Act does not govern the validity and enforceability of surrogacy arrangements or the establishment of legal parentage, which are matters that fall under provincial jurisdiction.
Permitted and regulated practices
Permitted practices in Canada include:
- IVF for reproduction and reproductive research
- Sex selection for sex-linked diseases
- Non-commercial surrogacy
- Embryonic stem cell research using embryos created for reproductive purposes, but not used and subsequently donated
Accountability and governance
Health Canada is the Canadian federal authority responsible for developing policy and regulations under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and for administering and enforcing the Act and its regulations. Prior to October 1, 2012, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC) was responsible for administering and enforcing the Act and its regulations. However, in Budget 2012, the Government of Canada announced that it would wind down AHRC, in response to the 2010 ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada that significantly reduced the federal role in assisted human reproduction.
- Health Canada, Assisted Reproduction, available at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/brgtherap/legislation/reprod/index-eng.php, (accessed 26 October 2014).