The Yukon government has rolled out a regulatory framework for midwifery, aiming for publicly-funded service in fall 2021.
The new Midwifery Regulation will license midwives to work and provide care in the Yukon after several years of advocacy and consultation. The regulations will launch on April 15.
The Yukon and Prince Edward Island are the last Canadian jurisdictions without regulated and publicly-funded midwifery. Without regulation, it can cost upwards of $2,000 for a home birth with a midwife.
After regulations are put into place, midwives will be hired on a salary model as employees of the Yukon government’s Department of Health and Social Services. A clinical manager will be the first to be hired, said Pat Living, department spokesperson.
Christina Kaiser, the interim president of the Community Midwifery Association of Yukon (CMAY), is currently the only practising midwife in the territory. She is licensed through her home country of Germany.
Kaiser told the News that the regulations are a positive step forward.
“Overall, it’s not bad, we’re happy that they’ve come through and we’re happy that we’re one step further,” Kaiser said.
The regulatory framework will serve as an outline for standards detailing the scope of midwifery in the territory. Those regulations are based on British Columbia’s framework.
“CMAY doesn’t have any problems with the regulations themselves … it is broad, which means that it is possible to have the full scope of midwifery in the Yukon, so that’s good,” she said.
Kaiser said she has some concerns with the suggested standards for midwifery, which will hopefully be ironed out before April 15.
The first potential wrinkle is that Yukon midwives are “encouraged” to have hospital privileges but aren’t required to have them. Midwives without hospital privileges couldn’t shift their services to a hospital setting if required.
“The concern is that maybe it would be hard for us to get privileges, and that would be bad,” Kaiser said. “If midwives don’t have hospital privileges, they cannot really offer the full scope of midwifery care.”
That won’t be an issue if the process for obtaining hospital privileges isn’t obstructive, Kaiser explained.
The process of gaining hospital privileges will be decided by the Yukon Hospital Corporation (YHC), according to Living.
“We will be working with YHC and physicians to facilitate ensuring that midwives are able to apply for privileges,” Living said in an email.
“Throughout, we will be working with our health-care partners to ensure that Yukon midwives can work to full scope of practice.”
Kaiser also expressed concern that midwives won’t have access to registration before April 15. After April 15, only registered midwives will be able to practice in the territory.
“The concern is that there are other jurisdictions in Canada where there was a big time gap between the regulations and the actual midwives working in the system — like, years — and we definitely don’t want that here,” Kaiser said.
If that isn’t sorted quickly, the Yukon government could inadvertently eliminate midwifery in the territory until registration opens.
Community services spokesperson Bonnie Venton Ross told the News that applications will be available for midwives prior to April 15. Anyone interested in registering should contact the Professional Licensing and Regulatory Affairs branch at email@example.com.
The Yukon government is currently working with a midwifery advisory committee to nail down other details, including reviewing and adapting the standards, according to a press release.
Kaiser noted that the regulations are a big step, but much work is left to be done before full implementation.
“There’s a lot of people who have worked really hard on this for years,” Kaiser said. “This is great, but we’re not finished … we’re not there yet.”
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at firstname.lastname@example.org