Myriam Bertrand was conceived with the help of a midwife, and years later, when it was time to give birth to her daughter, Bertrand said she knew she wanted a midwife by her side.
Thanks to the midwife, Bertrand was able to give birth in her own home, an experience she called "special."
"I knew that the midwife was going to take the time to really understand my needs, understand what I wanted to do and really just to feel empowered throughout the whole [period of] care," said Bertrand.
Now she fears the provincial government will be taking the power away from midwives to give the close level of care they currently provide, said Bertrand, who is the general coordinator of the Regroupement les sages-femmes du Québec (RSFQ), a collective representing midwife groups.
Bertrand and her daughter was one of the families braving the rain in downtown Montreal on Sunday, waving signs and raising their voices to protest a Quebec government bill they say would undermine the work midwives do in the province.
Demonstrations were held in different cities in Quebec.
Bill 15, introduced by Health Minister Christian Dubé, aims to reform the health-care system, notably through the creation of the Crown corporation Santé Québec.
According to the protesters, Bill 15 will force midwives to lose some of their powers they currently carry out for the mothers-to-be they assist.
"It's simply paternalistic," said Bertrand.
Aurélie Samoisette, left, is a practicing midwife. She says the Quebec government hasn’t listened to midwives. (Chloë Ranaldi/CBC)
"The aim of the rally was to defend the fundamental rights of women giving birth, as well as the professional autonomy of midwives," said Sarah Landry, coordinator of the Coalition pour la pratique sage-femme.
Quebec's Health Ministry told CBC News it recognizes the expertise of midwives and will not impede on their autonomy. The ministry said Bill 15 will allow midwives to admit and discharge patients to and from hospital without having to consult a doctor. It also said it is working to give midwives the power to prescribe abortion pills when necessary.
"What we want is for all healthcare professionals to be able to work together rather than in silos," the ministry said in a statement.
But Landry disagrees, calling on the government to back down.
"[Doctors and midwives] are already working together, but working together is not having one above the other," she said.
"This puts midwives under the supervision of doctors, which is not at all desirable."
In Quebec, the midwife profession was only legalized in 1999. According to several demonstrators, Bill 15 would undermine the gains that midwives have obtained through the legalization of their profession.
"Since the legalization of midwifery, midwives have had various mechanisms to protect their autonomy," said Landry. "The Conseil des sages-femmes has been abolished, to be replaced by the Conseil des médecins, dentistes, pharmaciens et sages-femmes [in Bill 15], and it is on this committee that midwives find themselves in the minority."
Aurélie Samoisette began practicing as a midwife in June. In that time, she has seen the woman she has worked with undergo a life-changing experience, she said.
"It's transformative for the individuals and for the communities as well, " said Samoisette.
Samoisette says the Quebec government has failed to consult midwives for their proposed changes and doesn't seem to understand the work she does.
"I think that Bill 15 doesn't seem coherent," she said, adding that she doubts women were at the decision-making table.