Some Whitehorse families who want a licensed midwife will soon have that option.
Now that a second registered midwife has been hired, the delayed midwifery program can start seeing expecting parents by this summer, the Yukon government announced in a news release on May 4.
In the release, the midwifery clinic, located at 9010 Quartz Rd., will begin taking in clients in July.
Until then, the Yukon still has no active practising licensed midwives since regulations went into effect more than a year ago, alongside standards of practice and a code of ethics.
Yukon Party health critic Brad Cathers said the government should have waited until they were ready to launch before bringing in regulations a year ago.
The government “bungled this file badly” after spending four years promising to do it, he said, since midwives previously operating in private practice were not allowed to continue offering services once regulations went into place April 15, 2021.
“Effectively, it has been a ban on private practice of midwifery and a large gap in service that was completely unnecessary,” he said.
“There certainly will continue to be gaps in services is what we’re hearing, especially in rural areas.”
From the official opposition party’s point of view, midwives who meet the regulation requirements should be permitted to offer private practice – and it should be funded by the government.
“That would open up the options for care providers and meet the needs of women who would not otherwise be served,” he said.
As previously reported by the News, the department said in an email last month the two registered midwives will be the primary care providers for up to 20 births in total over the course of a year.
Before it officially gets off the ground, commencing in June, the program will only be taking online applications from Whitehorse residents who are in their first 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the release.
The regulated and fully funded program provides care at no cost to clients.
“We are proud to have integrated midwifery into our Yukon health care system,” Tracy-Anne McPhee, minister of Health and Social Services, said in the release.
“It is important that expecting and new parents have additional options for pregnancy, birth and postpartum care.”
Midwives will also have hospital privileges.
The release states the two midwives will be licensed, insured and fully fused into the Yukon’s health-care system, working closely with other health providers, and can offer births at home or in the hospital.
During the spring sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, NDP Leader Kate White moved a motion urging the Yukon government to work with the Yukon Hospital Corporation to grant midwives hospital privileges in the Dawson City Community Hospital and the Watson Lake Community Hospital.
Another motion moved by White calls on the government to make midwifery support available in communities outside of Whitehorse.
In the meantime, NDP MLA Emily Tredger said by phone May 5 she is “really happy” that expecting parents will have options going forward.
“I’m really relieved to hear that families are going to finally have choices again about how they give birth,” she said.
“I do feel really sad for the families who had to give birth in that window where there were no services and they didn’t have any choices.”
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org