Alberta MLA candidates pledge support for midwives on eve of International Day of the Midwife | May 4, 2015
May 5th, election day in Alberta, is also International Day of the Midwife (#IDM2015). Women from across Alberta are sharing videos and pictures on social media featuring the hashtag #MyBabyMyBirth in recognition of midwifery. IDM celebrations will be held tomorrow at Edmonton’s Lucina Birth and Family Wellness Centre from 10am to noon, and in Calgary at Mount Royal University at 6:30 pm.
Most MLA candidates have indicated support for midwifery, namely through responses to a survey. The MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta Network (MCAN) and the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (ASAC) sent a survey to 379 candidates regarding Alberta’s maternity care system and midwifery care.
Both the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties sent responses on behalf of their candidates. The Green Party’s Jennifer Roach in Drayton Valley-Devon, wrote that access to maternity care and midwives in rural areas is a significant challenge. The PCs pledged to expand midwifery services, but only “as the province’s finances permits,” ignoring the fact that changing the current funding model for midwifery and expanding access to midwives would save $7 million per year in Alberta’s health care budget.
Respondents from all parties expressed a willingness to re-examine the maternity care funding model. Currently midwives are paid by Alberta Health Services, while physicians providing maternity care are paid by Alberta Health, creating two different funding streams.
Many candidates proposed increasing midwifery training to increase access to midwifery care. Some seemed unaware that Alberta already has a program at Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary. Many of the first midwives graduating this spring are leaving Alberta in the absence of jobs due to a funding cap. Liberal candidate for Edmonton-Goldbar, Ronald Brochu, wrote: “Money sunk into funding this newer educational program (MRU) is going to waste.”
Responses from NDP candidates all included key phrases like “The Alberta government is not supporting midwifery to the same degree as other provinces.”
Calgary-Bow’s Liberal Matthew Gaiser expressed dismissive sentiments towards midwifery care, stating “a shortage of obstetricians is more critical than a shortage of midwives.” Gaiser failed to recognize that lower-cost midwives attending low-risk women free up finances and obstetricians to be available for higher-risk pregnancies. The blanket PC response included the words “popular” and “trend” to describe women’s interest in midwifery care. But interest in midwifery is not a recent trend; ASAC was formed in Edmonton in 1979. For decades now, women in this province have been asking for improved access to choice in their maternity care.
Full candidates’ survey responses: http://tinyurl.com/MCAN-ASAC-survey
Contact: MCAN President Nicole Hill, 780-994-3209, firstname.lastname@example.org
MCAN Action plan: www.maternitycarealberta.com/election-campaign.php
Contact: ASAC VP External Dana Weatherhead, 780-887-0725, email@example.com
ASAC (Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth) Action plan: www.asac.ab.ca