Giving birth to regulations, licensing for midwifery will take time, Sullivan says

Published on February 27, 2014
Susan Sullivan is pictured at a news conference today. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Health Minister Susan Sullivan said today it will take between five and seven years before midwives will be able to practice within the public health system in the province.

That’s after she released the report “Implementing Midwifery in Newfoundland and Labrador” which is meant to help guide the establishment of midwifery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Establishing midwifery is a long-term investment because it takes policy changes, time and effort to integrate practitioners and a period of time to have sufficient midwives to have an impact on the provision of maternity care,” Sullivan said.

“We will continue to work with the provincial midwifery body as they form their professional college and provide submissions for the development of regulations.”

Mary Hodge of the Association of Midwives of Newfoundland and Labrador said she’s disappointed it will take so long, but welcomes the fact there is some movement toward licensing the profession.

“There are midwives in Alberta and other places waiting to come home to practice,” she said.

Liberal health critic Christopher Mitchelmore said he’s disappointed at the slow turnaround in the public system especially since there are midwives already practising in the Labrador Grenfell Health region.

“There are midwives that have been practising and delivering babies and dealing with the pre-and post-natal care as well as delivering and there has been a lot of success on the Great Northern Peninsula and to see it is going to take so much time to implement in the health authority, this is just taking away choice,” said Mitchelmore, who represents Straits- White Bay North.

“For those who can afford care, those are the only ones that will be able to avail of such a service so it’s a backwards step.”

The report states the first step in the process will be to develop regulations concerning the private practice of the profession under the Health Professions Act.

A news release notes the provincial government will also be appointing an implementation co-ordinator and an advisory committee to help inform the process of regulating midwives in the province. The report is available at: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/publications/Midwifery_Report_2014.pdf

 “The report examined the potential of regulating midwifery as a means of providing quality health care for childbearing women and their families in our province,” Sullivan said.

“We are pleased with what we have learned, and we will be working with the Newfoundland and Labrador Council of Health Professionals and the Association of Midwives of Newfoundland and Labrador to establish a transitional College of Midwives.

“Properly regulating this practice will protect mothers and their infants, and ensure that midwives have the appropriate training and qualifications and provide important recognition of this professional group.”