August 18, 2014 3:02 pm

N.B. government won’t hire midwives, but will reinstate licensing body

MONCTON – The New Brunswick health department will reinstate the council that licenses midwives in the province, but has no plans to add any directly to the government payroll.

The province says it will restore the Midwifery Council of New Brunswick this fall, but that there is no funding to hire midwives in New Brunswick.

Last summer, the province cut $10,000 in funding to the Midwifery Council of New Brunswick even though regulations were adopted in 2010 to allow for licensed midwives in the province.

“If a midwife wanted to start practicing in New Brunswick, she has no way of getting the licence,” said Rachelle Lanteigne, the chairperson for N.B. Families for Midwives.

The province has not hired a single midwife in the last four years.

The health department says it would cost $190,000 per year to pay for the salary, insurance and expenses of one midwife — so even with the council back in place, it still doesn’t have the money to provide around-the-clock midwife care.

Shelley Steeves/Global News

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The return of the council is encouraging to Natalie Belliveau, who is five-and-a-half months pregnant and eager to give birth to her second child at home.

“I have heard really great birth stories from people at home,” she said. “I have a friend who gave birth at home in Ontario and they have a great mid-wife system there.”

Advocates like Lanteigne say while reinstatement of the council is a positive step, it doesn’t make any sense that the province won’t hire any midwives itself.

“The council needs to be there but there also needs to be some money so that midwives can actually work and the public can have access,” she said.

“Studies show that any birth followed by a midwife would save approximately $1,200 dollars compared to a traditional hospital.”

Belliveau says licensing midwives would create employment opportunities for women seeking work after they complete their midwifery degrees outside the province.

“It’s available in other provinces like Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, and women are having fabulous experiences with it,” she said. “It is costing less money. I just can’t understand why [New Brunswick] has not gotten on board yet.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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