While Ontario is cutting funding to its college of midwives amid widening public and political uproar, Alberta is expanding the range of tasks its midwives can do to help expectant and new mothers and their newborns.
A string of politicians in Ontario and beyond have expressed outrage at the latest cut to social services from Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government after National Observer reported the news it was retroactively pulling back funds for the Ontario College of Midwives on Thursday.
"Every grain of my experience says that these cuts to @ontariomidwives by @OntarioPCParty Govt are a massive mistake," tweeted @ScottAWolfe, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres.
"Wrong, just wrong," Mike Schreiner, the leader of the Green Party of Ontario, tweeted in response. "It is a short-sighted and reactionary decision for the Ford government to cut funding for the Ontario College of Midwives. The long-term financial costs and reduced health care service will far outweigh any "savings."
The interim leader of the Ontario Liberals, John Fraser, also chimed in, contrasting the Ford government's cuts to basic services with high-paying appointments he has made for people close to him, including former Ontario Progressive Conservative Party president Dr. Rueben Devlin, who Ford has named as a special advisor on healthcare.
"It's all about choices," Fraser tweeted at Doug Ford. "You choose $350k a year jobs for your ex party president and tour director — it's all about rewarding your friends these days. Ontarians choose @ontariomidwives and healthy moms and babies
In a separate tweet, Fraser said both his youngest child and grandchild "were nurtured into this world by midwives" and his cousin is a midwife. "I have seen first hand the positive outcomes for mothers, babies and our public healthcare system," he said. "This is a regressive & profoundly stupid decision."
Meanwhile in Alberta, midwives who complete additional training will be able to prescribe, dispense and administer a broader range of prescription drugs, vaccines and contraception, the province's NDP government announced on Wednesday. They will be able to provide benzodiazepine and narcotics in a hospital and use ultrasounds to determine fetal position and prescription drugs in induce labour.
Yesterday I was celebrating our decision to increase women's choice & control - what a contrast from the Ford govt. today. Policy choices have real consequences for women, and I'm proud to stand with @RachelNotley, who will always fight for Alberta women.https://t.co/6U1AW6NlZb— Janet Eremenko (@JanetEremenko) December 14, 2018
Ontario's health minister, Christine Elliott, responded more than 24 hours after National Observer sent her ministry questions about the move by saying the government elected in June was committed to transforming the healthcare system and putting it on a "sustainable path for the future".
"Our government values the contributions of Ontario’s midwives and the care they provide to expectant families," she added, "and will continue to listen to patients and the people who plan and work on the front lines of our health care system. Together, we will create a health care system that works for the people of Ontario.”
(1/3) As someone who has worked in health & social services for 20yrs (in multiple countries), and as a father of 3 children all delivered in Ontario by #midwives, every grain of my experience says that these cuts to @ontariomidwives by @OntarioPCParty Govt are a massive mistake. https://t.co/AE5HwA0RVi— Scott A. Wolfe (@ScottAWolfe) December 14, 2018
Those who plan and work on the front lines of Ontario's healthcare system appeared to disagree with the government's spin.
"Global evidence points to major value of
#midwives in improving mother & child health," added Wolfe, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres. "I have experienced the high clinical and psycho-social competencies of midwives, who also help reduce #cdnhealth #onhealth system costs."
This is how misogynistic policy, legislation and funding can harm women and their children. This is what institutional and targeted reproductive injustice looks like.— Jenny Wright (@JenEWright) December 14, 2018
Ford cuts all provincial funding to Ontario College of Midwives | National Observer https://t.co/YQoL62WR7h
Midwives are considered a viable option for mothers expecting a low-risk pregnancy and delivery, and can reduce the need for these women to access hospital beds that are in short supply, especially for those based in the rural centres of the province.