Days before the Quebec government officially launches a new program that will fund in vitro fertilization for infertile couples, some fertility clinics say they're already overwhelmed by a spike in demands for the treatment.

Dr. Francois Bissonnette, medical director of the Ovo Clinic in Montreal, said he began hiring extra staff in January in anticipation of the government's move -- which has been in the works for a year and a half.

"We have on our waiting list over 650 patients just waiting for the program -- so it has been a tsunami effect," he said.

Bisonnette said the clinic provides an average of 900 cycles of IVF treatment per year. He now expects that number to double, and like others in his field, he fears the government's program wasn't well thought-out.

"I'm afraid because of the speed that they imposed (this) on us, there's a lot of problems that will arise as we move along with the program," he said.

It's putting additional pressure on staff, who are already working in a high-stress environment.

"We have to be as precise as we can. We're dealing with people's babies (...) It is stressful, but we try to do our best," said embryologist Audrey Wachter.

Quebec's publicly-funded IVF program is the first of its kind in North America, and is expected to cost up to $80 million annually.

Melanie Gagnon, a patient who began taking hormone treatments at the private clinic nearly two years ago, said she is patiently waiting to see if she is eligible for the free IVF treatment.

"What else can we do but wait? I know I'm not the only one hoping to have a child," she said.

The program will take effect Aug. 5.