Locals continue to plea for midwives in Fort McMurray

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Local residents, doulas and women’s health care representatives joined together at the Early Start Learning Centre on January 23 to discuss the need for midwives in Fort McMurray. Photo by: DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Local residents, doulas and women’s health care representatives joined together at the Early Start Learning Centre on January 23 to discuss the need for midwives in Fort McMurray. Photo by: DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Local maternity care representatives brought together members of the public on January 23 to continue addressing the need for midwives in Fort McMurray.

“We have a midwife waiting and wanting to move back home,” said Meranda Bos, a local MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta (MCAN) representative. “She owns a home here, her husband’s here and she wants to provide her services.”

Over 30 residents, including representatives from the Fort McMurray Doula Association, attended a meeting at the Early Start Learning Centre to continue the discussion and support for local midwifery care.

According to a news release from the local MCAN representatives, it states: “the Alberta Association of Midwives (AAM) are in negations with Alberta Health Services regarding their contract.”

MCAN reps want the Wood Buffalo region to be recognized in the funding and said this could help our community by elevating the workload in the Maternity Ward at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

“The key message is to have options and to help out our OBs. Let them be specialists and have midwives handle the women who are low risk,” said Bos.

Bos, a local doula, has recently become a regional representative of MCAN, alongside current representative Lucie Lapierre. Bos took over the position for Vilia Tosio, after Tosio announced she was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2015.

“I hope to be an extension of Vilia with her leadership in fighting for more funding and to ensure Fort McMurray is getting the traction we need,” Bos said in a phone interview.

“I hope to be an extension of Vilia with her leadership in fighting for more funding and to ensure Fort McMurray is getting the traction we need,” Bos said in a phone interview.

Tosio and Lapierre gathered hundreds of residents for the province-wide midwife movement: “Where’s My Midwife?” on September 2, 2013. Its purpose was to raise awareness about the midwives contract.

With almost four years of voicing the concern, Lapierre said Fort McMurray cannot be ignored, as high birth rates show there’s a most definite need for more help.

“As a maternity care provider and consumer in Fort McMurray, a city such importance for Alberta, it shocks me how underserved expecting families are,” she said. “No matter how good or bad the economy is, couples are still choosing to create a family. Ignoring the importance of primary caregivers for the basic human need of maternity care, baffles me. Our work over the past years has not brought improvements yet, but I hope to see change for families to come.”

Bos said she hopes to continue “fighting for funding in Fort McMurray.”

The two major concerns being: giving women the ability to have midwives available in Fort McMurray and providing a long-term contract to these midwives with no-cap on funding.

The MCAN release also stated: “New studies are showing that in low-risk pregnancies midwifery care is as safe as being under the care of a physician. Pregnancies and birth under the care of a midwife save Alberta taxpayers, on average $1172 per birth.”

The MCAN representatives, along with local residents, have been voicing their concerns on Twitter to Minister for Alberta Health Sarah Hoffman using the hashtag: #ABMIDWIVES, in hopes to get a response.

Local residents with MCAN representative Meranda Bos (far right) hold message signs they’ve been sharing on Twitter to Minister for Alberta Health Sarah Hoffman using the hashtag: #ABMIDWIVES. Photo by: DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Local residents with MCAN representative Meranda Bos (far right) hold message signs they’ve been sharing on Twitter to Minister for Alberta Health Sarah Hoffman using the hashtag: #ABMIDWIVES. Photo by: DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

It has turned into a province-wide social media campaign to fund more midwives and has caught Hoffman’s attention. On January 18, she released a statement to the public on social media:

“We’ve heard from a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook in recent days on the topic of midwifery. We value Alberta midwives and the important role they play in the health of mothers and babies, and we have been making inroads to improve access to their services,” she wrote.

“In the last six years, the number of midwives practising in Alberta has increased by 37 per cent in 2009, and then 73 per cent in 2013. Our government invested an additional $1.8 million for midwifery services in 2015. This will fund up to 400 more midwife supported births this fiscal year and means more than 2,700 families will receive care.”

Bos said, while the news is great for the province, she wants to make sure the Wood Buffalo region is recognized in this funding.

“She keeps saying the same thing over and over,” Bos said. “Yes, it’s a step in the right direction, but they are still not recognizing the needs in Fort McMurray.”

For residents interested in getting involved, Bos and Lapierre are asking them to visit the MCAN website at www.maternitycarealberta.com. And, they can also participate by addressing their words though social media to Minister Hoffman using #ABMIDWIVES and by tagging @AHS_North.

– Connect Weekly –