Midwifery advocates happy to see 'progress' in form of minister's plan

·3 min read

Islanders keen to see a wider variety of pregnancy and birth services on P.E.I. say they're glad to hear the provincial health minister plans to have a co-ordinator and three midwives in place by this fall.

But at least two of them are curbing their enthusiasm.

"We're happy to see progress, but we'll celebrate when midwives are actually seeing Island women," said Sonya Rae, a member of Birth Options Research Network (BORN), P.E.I.'s midwife advocacy group.

Rae is herself eight months pregnant with her second child.

If Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward had been able to meet his previous commitment to have regulated, publicly funded midwives in place by January 2020, she would have used that service.

Aylward has announced details

On Tuesday, Aylward acknowledged to CBC that his first timeline was too ambitious, and apologized for the delay.

He said regulations for a midwifery service will be finished this spring, and recruitment will begin for a full-time, permanent program co-ordinator before postings go up for three midwives to start practising on the Island.

Russell Fraser
Russell Fraser

Rae's first child was born in Ontario with the support of midwives — she said a team of three was assigned to her. She welcomes Aylward's new commitment and hopes Health PEI will be allowed to ramp up to include more than the three initial midwives he is promising by the fall of 2021.

"We'd like to see a plan to be able to rapidly expand, not only to meet an increased demand, but also to be able to meet the geographical needs of people, because it would be lovely for this to be a service accessible for women from east to west."

According to the Canadian Association of Midwives, a team of three midwives could expect to serve 90 to 120 families each year.

Families in every other Canadian province have access to midwives through the public health-care system.

'Not holding my breath'

Lydia Wolters is expecting her fourth child this September, and has also been lobbying for midwives on the Island.

"I'm not holding my breath that everything's going to be in place," she said Wednesday. "Most things run into delays. And just with how delayed it has been — yeah, I foresee it being possibly delayed further and taking more time."

Most things run into delays. And just with how delayed it has been — yeah, I foresee it being possibly delayed further and taking more time. — Lydia Wolters

Opposition health critic Trish Altass is also taking a wait-and-see approach.

"It just seems we are getting little snippets of information, and it is confusing for the public, and I'm sure it is confusing for midwives that we are trying to recruit from across the country.

"We need a plan, we need to know what model is going to be implemented, and there needs to be actual tangible progress.… I'm having a really hard time getting excited about this announcement with so many promises unkept so far."

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