A midwifery model of care has been selected for the Yukon, and is being called “a big win” by a local advocate.
Midwives will be employees of the territorial government to ensure Yukoners have access to sustainable and integrated midwifery services, the government said Monday.
Kathleen Cranfield, the president of the Community Midwifery Association, said today the model signals a positive future for midwifery in the territory.
“The Community Midwifery Association is really pleased with the step forward; it’s a big step in the right direction, but there’s lots of work still ahead of us,” Cranfield told the Star.
The first action under the approved model will be to hire a midwifery consultant to co-ordinate the planning and program implementation.
The position will be responsible for leading an implementation advisory committee made up of a wide variety of stakeholders.
The model of care will take a phased approach starting with full midwifery services being offered in Whitehorse.
The government is working with the midwifery advisory committee to review draft regulations. The final regulations are expected for 2020 and will come into force with the launch of the midwifery program.
“We are very excited to move this initiative forward so that Yukoners can have another safe option that supports healthy pregnancies, childbirth and post-natal care,” said Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost.
“By working in partnership with all health care providers, we are ensuring midwifery is integrated into Yukon’s health care system in a safe and sustainable way that provides Yukoners with access to the right care, at the right time and in the right place.”
Development of a model of care is built on extensive research, input from public engagement, the work of the midwifery advisory committee, and a recommendation received from the Canadian Association of Midwives, the government said.
“We really commend the Yukon government on their consultative process, and the objectivity that they’ve shown,” Cranfield said.
Cranfield said she expects the pending regulations to be in line with the rest of the country, and require midwives to register with a Canadian college of midwifery as well as with the territorial government.
Successive territorial governments have long faced calls for a formal midwifery care model for Yukon women.
Last month, Cranfield told the Star the Yukon is several decades behind on implementing regulated midwifery.
The territory’s current system, in which midwives work as private contractors, is prohibitively expensive.
The Community Midwifery Association has been advocating for regulated and publicly funded midwifery care.
“When that happens, it ensures that midwifery care is an option for all people and that it’s funded for all people,” Cranfield said this morning.
“I believe that’s a big win for the community … I think it’s an essential reproductive health care service in our country and it’s nice that Yukoners will benefit from that.”
The Yukon’s birth rate is approximately 400 per year – the lowest in Canada.
In 2016-17, the Yukon had 401 births, Nunavut 933 and the Northwest Territories 666.
It’s expected that the first government-employed midwives will begin delivering babies in the late summer of 2021.
“We are committed to providing regulated and funded midwifery services for Yukon families,” said Community Services Minister John Streicker.
“Draft regulations and the approved model of care both mark significant milestones.
“We look forward to working with the midwifery advisory committee, stakeholders and communities as we create a sustainable path forward for midwifery in the Yukon.”