Health Minister Gaetan Barrette has long been cool to Quebec’s free in-vitro fertilization program, launched by the Liberals in 2010.

Before running for the party, he described it as an “open bar” and now that he’s in charge, he still feels that it’s far from an essential service.

“Essential, in the common language in the province of Quebec, is when you go to strike and you determine what services are to be maintained. Obviously this is not an essential service,” Barrette said Friday at a press conference in Quebec City.

Costs of the program have soared from $30 million at its inception to $70 million more recently and the program appears to be a target for the belt-tightening and austerity prescribed by the Couillard Liberals.

A series of new rules and conditions are being considered in order to lower the costs of the IVF program.

The program would no longer be free to those with the ability to pay and applicants would be screened more closely before being approved.

As a result, smokers or those who indulge in habits known to decrease fertility could be excluded. Women would be first required to attempt the less-costly insemination and then other medication before being advanced to the IVF program.

Only one IVF child would be permitted per family and stricter rules would guard against a disputes involving surrogate mothers.

Legislation is expected this fall.