What You Need to Know About New Assisted Reproduction Laws

The Children’s Law Act, 2020 has recently come into place in Saskatchewan. This has updated the laws relating to decision-making and parenting time of children.  However, this article focuses on the changes made to assisted reproduction in Saskatchewan.

The new updates are a welcome change, revising our archaic former act. Under the old act I had clients attend clinics in British Columbia so that the surrogacy agreements could be governed by  British Columbia laws.  As an aside, there is also federal legislation and regulations dealing with assisted reproduction.

Here are nine things you need to know about the new Act:

  1. Assisted reproduction is broadly defined as a method of conceiving other than by sexual intercourse.
  2. The new Act is more inclusive, removing references to “mother” and “father” and instead referring to “parents” only. It further contemplates a variety of parental arrangements and agreements which can be made.
  3. In order to qualify as a surrogate, the person carrying the child must have the intention, at the time of conception, to relinquish parental rights to one or more other persons.
  1. This makes it vital that a surrogacy agreement is entered prior to conception which clearly specifies the surrogate’s intention to relinquish parental rights. All parties must also receive independent legal advice.
  2. A surrogate is not considered a birth parent where they have relinquished entitlement to parentage pursuant to the Act (more on this in part 7 below). If the surrogate has not relinquished entitlement, they will be presumed to be the parent of the child.
  1. A sperm donor is not recognized to be the parent of a child conceived through insemination. Therefore, if a sperm donor intends to be the parent of the child, a parentage agreement would be required. Oddly, the Act is silent in this regard respecting ova donors.
  2. If the birth parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction, not including a surrogate, has a spouse at the time of conception, that spouse is automatically recognized to be a parent of the child, unless the spouse does not consent to be a parent of the child.
  3. Where there is an agreement specifying the parentage of a child, not including a surrogacy agreement (e. there is an ova or sperm donation agreement in place), upon the child’s birth, they are deemed to be the child of the intended parents under the agreement.
  4. However, for surrogates, not only must there be a surrogacy agreement in place prior to conception, the surrogate must also relinquish their entitlement to parentage of the child in the specified form after birth. This cannot take place earlier than three days after birth.  Presumably, this is to protect the surrogate and provide them a final chance to claim parental rights, although it certainly complicates things for the intended parents and could lead to messy situations.  The parents must then apply for an order declaring them to be the parents of the child, which must be made before the child is 90 days old.
  1. If the surrogate refuses to relinquish parental rights, the intended parents can apply to the court for an order declaring parentage.
  1. Surrogacy agreements are not enforceable at law, but can be used as evidence of a person’s intention to be the parent of the child, and the surrogate’s intention to not be a parent of the child.
  2. In determining bloodlines, if the person(s) who donated sperm, ova, or an embryo had no intention at the time of conception to be a parent of the child, they are not considered a blood relation to the child. For example, this would mean the child would be ineligible to inherit from the donor if they died without a Will in place.

This article is intended to provide legal information only, not legal advice.  Assisted reproduction matters can be quite complicated, and can lead to unintended results if not completed properly.  It is recommended you seek the advice of a lawyer when considering entering such an agreement and exploring your options.

For further information, please contact:

Curtis P. Clavelle
Direct: 306-933-1341
Email: c.clavelle@rslaw.com

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