Bus shelter surrogacy advertHealth Canada has been criticised for its enforcement of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.
The apparently controversial law has been enforced just twice since early 2014.
In the first case a person was warned after they posted an advert for a surrogate on a bus shelter. In the second incident a letter was sent to a company seeking to pay women to donate their eggs.
Under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act both of these cases could have led to criminal prosecutions.
Health Canada has been heavily criticised by some - Francoise Baylis, a bioethicist at Dalhousie University - "These letters — coupled with the failure to investigate and, as appropriate, prosecute — provide shameful evidence of complicity with illegal activity."
Sean Upton spokesman for Health Canada responded, stating the level of action was based upon each individual case and that the action taken was appropriate in these instances.
The Assisted Human Reproduction Act has been law in Canada since 2004, however the Supreme Court of Canada struck down much of the Act ruling that it overlapped with provincial legislation that already made the buying of eggs or sperm and the use of surrogates illegal.
Donors and surrogates are entitled to have their expenses reimbursed, but there is apparently evidence that many are paid fees over and above expenses.
In the case of the bus shelter advert the ad included an image of a stork carrying a baby with an offer of $15,000 and even included tear-off contact numbers for those willing to act as a surrogate.
Those in the fertility industry have long complained about what they see as lax enforcement; stating that commercial upfront fees demanded by egg donors and surrogates are now common.
The complaint regarding payment for eggs related to a company called Little Miracles. One egg donor apparently told Health Canada that she had been paid a fee over and above her expenses.
The Act allows for prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines up to $500,000.