Lack of funding still a barrier to midwifery graduates

One of the first eight midwives to graduate from Mount Royal University is coming to Red Deer.

One of the first eight midwives to graduate from Mount Royal University is coming to Red Deer.

Four of them found jobs in Alberta, but that doesn’t mean more women will get midwifery care.

The number of courses of care, or patients, who can access a midwife is still capped at 2,374 annually through public funding from the province.

The graduate who is coming to Red Deer this summer is replacing one of the three midwives at Prairie Midwives. She is leaving for British Columbia.

“Is there demand for midwifery care in Alberta? Yes. But at this point with our current contract with the government, we don’t have adequate funds to be able to give all the new graduates jobs in Alberta,” said Nicole Matheseon, president of the Alberta Association of Midwives, on Wednesday.

Three graduates found jobs in B.C. and one is without a contract.

“A midwife is able to do 40 courses of care in a full-time practice so we have enough courses of care to give approximately 54 midwives full-time work. We have many midwives who don’t have courses of care or are not working at capacity.”

Alberta has 94 registered midwives.

Matheseon said negotiations with the province to expand midwifery care will likely begin in the fall, but a request is already in to meet with the new health minister.

“We’re hopeful that the new government will be helpful and maybe assist us in creating more opportunities for midwives even in this current fiscal year,” Matheseon said.

An estimated 900 women in Alberta are on wait lists for a midwife.

Jennifer Bindon, midwife at Prairie Midwives, which serves the Red Deer area, said 20 to 30 women a month are on the wait list in Red Deer alone.

Her agency is capped at serving 116 women per year.

“The demand is still growing so we’re hopeful that funding is going to be coming and we can start closing this gap in maternity health care,” Bindon said.

“Right now, we’re providing care to about two per cent of the women delivering in Red Deer. Our goal is 20 per cent by 2020.”

The graduate in the process of joining Prairie Midwives did her practicum with the Red Deer midwives.

“It’s nice to have a midwife coming to join us who is already well versed on how things work in Red Deer and has spent time with some of the obstetricians in Red Deer as well.”

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