If you can’t afford IVF, maybe you can’t afford the costs of raising a child anyway, Quebec’s health minister said Monday as he discussed the possibility of more funding cuts to procedure.

Gaeten Barrette said that if would-be parents can’t afford in-vitro fertilization treatment, they should realize that raising children is also expensive.

“The IVF is one thing. To raise a child is another thing. The costs that are involved to IVF are, at the end, closely similar to the cost of raising a child, so if the IVF in itself is an obstacle – the cost is an obstacle to have a child, well, I have something to say, which is raising a child is also a cost,” said Barrette.

The words come as the province considers cutting more funding for IVF.

After eliminating provincially funded in vitro fertilization procedures in the fall, Barrette is now suggesting funding of the drugs used in the treatments may also be reduced.

Barrette says the drugs may not be reimbursed directly any longer under the provincial drug plan, with the cost of the medication possibly being folded into a tax credit.

That's what the Quebec government did when it passed Bill 20 last fall, putting an end to publicly funded IVF treatments.

Some are able to take advantage of a tax credit at the end of the year depending on their income and circumstances.

Barrette acknowledged, however, that the tax-credit option will still be more expensive for couples.

"But it's still less costly than if we were to abolish it altogether," he said Monday.

Barrette says he'll follow the recommendation of a provincial health institute, which may decide to put an end to the free drugs.

Doctors that specialize in fertility treatments are dismayed by the prospect that patients may have to pay for drugs upfront, then receive a tax credit in the following year.

Dr. Coralie Beauchamp, who works at the private Ovo Clinic in Montreal, believes the government should fund the drugs.

"I think that creating a child should not be looked at as an expense but as an investment from the society," said Dr. Beauchamp.

"The reality is that we see very few couples who will benefit from the government tax credit."

Assisted procreation had been free in Quebec since August 2010, but the cost of the publicly funded program was higher than expected.

The vice-president of an association that represents infertile couples in Quebec expressed disappointment with Barrette's comments.

"It's as though they were completely abandoning an illness," said Martine Vallee Cossette.

She pointed out that the maximum tax credit is $10,000 but that the drugs for one cycle can go for between $4,000 and $10,000, while the actual in vitro procedures can range from $6,000 to $10,000.

With files from The Canadian Press