As you’d expect from one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2023, iQmetrix employees (iQers) enjoy a wide range of benefits.
But help for your family in creating a baby is not necessarily a perk that most companies — even those on the top 100 list — are likely to offer.
Back in 2017, iQmetrix saw this as a missed opportunity. “We had a few employees who had shared their fertility struggles and we became aware that this was a gap within most companies’ coverage, including ours,” said Allison Cribbs, Benefits Specialist in iQmetrix’s People and Culture team. “We felt it was something that had such a high impact culturally, and from a values perspective it wasn’t even a question that we would include it going forward.” iQmetrix immediately set up a lifetime insurance coverage for fertility drug costs of $25,000 per employee.
One of the first iQers to use this benefit was Sean Anderson, Client Engagement Lead for the Canadian and Specialty Market at iQmetrix, who was then based in Saskatchewan. iQmetrix spoke to Sean about how he and his wife used the fertility drugs coverage in their process and how it resulted in a wonderful baby girl named Scottie.
Q: Sean, you were one of the first people at iQmetrix to use the fertility drugs coverage. How did it come about?
A: That’s right. We were obviously having trouble conceiving, and our doctor had recommended that we go to a clinic in Calgary for a course of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which requires a lot of expensive fertility drugs. I had gone to our People and Culture Team to ask if there was any coverage for fertility treatments. They said no, not right now, but that they were literally about to introduce $25,000 coverage for fertility drugs costs (not for any procedures). That was awesome, and something we didn’t expect. It was perfectly timed for us, as the fertility drugs are not cheap. We started the drugs with the coverage from our iQmetrix insurance, and went to Calgary’s Regional Fertility Program for the IVF procedures.
Q: What was the process in Calgary like?
A: We were initially there for three weeks, with my wife Marly having regular injections of the fertility drugs. We weren’t expecting to be there for that long, but it didn’t seem to be working, so we kept having to buy more of the drugs. The doctors offered us a cheaper form of treatment, as it was getting expensive, but then we explained that our drug costs were covered, which is extremely unusual. So they were able to recommend we continue with the better option. We were told that most couples usually give up at that point, because the costs are so prohibitive, but because of our coverage we were okay to continue. iQmetrix also supported me in working remotely from Calgary during the treatments. However, we still didn’t get any viable eggs during that time, so we returned home.
Q: That must’ve been heartbreaking. What happened next?
A: We had a tough decision on what to do, because it was still expensive for us to pay for the actual IVF procedures. But because of our iQmetrix drugs coverage, the whole thing was probably around half the usual cost it would be, and we still had some of our $25,000 drugs coverage left. So we decided to go back to Calgary for another round of procedures. This time, it resulted in four viable embryos.
One of those embryos was implanted, and the other three were frozen for future use. The one that was implanted, in December 2017, resulted in our daughter Scottie (Scott Anderson, named for her grandfather). She was born September 12, 2018 and is now four years old.
Q: That’s incredible news — congratulations. You and Marly must have been over the moon when you found out!
A: It was Christmas time, and we were at my family farm. Marly took a pregnancy test on December 29, at about 3 o’clock in the morning. I found out when Marly came into the room with a tiny Winnipeg Jets onesie. But we didn’t tell most of our friends and family for about 12 weeks, when we could be sure.
Q: In fact, you told a big group of iQmetrix colleagues about the pregnancy before even many of your family knew. Can you tell us that story?
A: Sure. Another amazing benefit at iQmetrix is the regular company getaways, where the company pays for all iQers to go somewhere warm for a week of team-building. At the closing dinner of the company trip to Mexico in 2018, I stood up and thanked iQmetrix for its support with the fertility drugs and shared with everyone that Marly and I were expecting a baby. It was a great moment. We were 11 weeks pregnant at the time.
Q: Were you able to enjoy some quality time with Scottie and Marly after the birth?
A: This is another reason iQmetrix is such a great place to work. I was able to take a couple of months off at the tail end of Marly’s maternity leave as parental leave. Added to that, iQmetrix offers every employee a seven-week paid sabbatical for every seven years of service, and mine came up at near the beginning of my wife’s mat leave. So we were able to go off travelling with Scottie, who was only three months old at the time. We spent time in Costa Rica, where my in-laws have a place, as well as at my parents’ winter home in Arizona, and also in Calgary, where it all began. We were very fortunate to have that time together. Plus, shortly after Marly’s maternity leave ended, the pandemic began, and we were all home together anyways.
Q: What happened with the other three embryos that were frozen?
A: Unfortunately one didn’t make it through the thawing, and then the other two embryos didn’t survive after implantation, which was very sad for us. So that means we won’t be having any more children. But we’re a very happy family of three, and as a smaller family, we’re more mobile. We had a bigger house in Saskatchewan, but being only three of us, we were able to move to a smaller home where we wanted to live, in BC’s Fraser Valley.
We’re very grateful for the support that iQmetrix has given our family. This is a pretty cool place to work.
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