According to a recent study funded by the federal government, infertility rates have doubled since 1992. As a result, an increasing number of Canadian couples have turned to alternative reproduction methods to grow their families. Surrogacy, which involves a woman carrying a pregnancy for the intended parents, is one way for couples to fulfill their dream of having a baby. Because the law in this area is complex and often misunderstood, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basics before exploring surrogacy as an option.
What Is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy arrangements can be broken down into two main types: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, the baby is not related to the surrogate in any way, ie. The reproductive material (egg and sperm) are provided by another female and a male by the surrogate to the birth mother. to traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate is biologically related to the baby.
Is Surrogacy Legal in Canada?
In Canada, "altruistic surrogacy" is legal in every Canadian province and territory except Quebec.
In Canada (with the exception of Quebec), surrogacy is permissible under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act as long as the surrogate does not receive compensation outside "reimbursement" expenses, such as medical costs, and travel expenses. The Act outright bans "commercial surrogacy" in which a surrogate is paid for carrying a pregnancy. In short, surrogacy is legal as long as the surrogate does not profit from it.
Are Egg and Sperm Donation Legal in Canada?
In some cases, couples need help achieving a viable pregnancy. In these situations, people often turn to egg or sperm donors. It is also not unusual for couples to combine donor materials with surrogacy. Although the Assisted Human Reproduction Act does not make egg and sperm donation illegal, it prohibits the purchase of genetic materials. It is, however, permissible to reimburse a donor for medical, travel, and other "legitimate" expenses involved in the donation process. In this way, the law treats egg and sperm donation the same way as surrogacy: it is legal as long as there is no personal profit.
What Is a Declaration of Parentage?
The Declaration of Parentage is the last legal step in the surrogacy journey. Regardless of whether the surrogacy is a traditional or gestational one, Alberta law automatically recognizes the woman who gives birth as the legal mother. This means that the intended parents must apply to the court to be recognized as the baby's legal parents. The procedural requirements in this area vary by province.
In Alberta, intended parents must obtain the surrogate's consent when applying for a Declaration of Parentage. Once the court grants it, the new parents file it with Vital Statistics, which then issues a new Registration of Birth showing only the names of the intended parents. Afterwards, the original Registration of Birth is destroyed, completing the surrogacy journey and creating a new family.