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Families to get better access to midwives

Fewer rural and remote Alberta families will have to drive to a city or join a waitlist to get midwifery care thanks to a new agreement between Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Association of Midwives and stable government funding.

Since 2015, the government has committed almost $13 million in new funding for midwifery care, including a three-year, $11-million investment in Budget 2016. As part of this funding, the government asked AHS and the association to target growth in underserved communities.

AHS and the Alberta Association of Midwives have reached an agreement that will increase the number of midwives practising in Alberta and includes a plan to get more midwives caring for families in rural and remote areas.

“Today, on International Day of the Midwife, we want to recognize the difference midwives make in the lives of thousands of Alberta families and their babies every year. We know that many families have been unable to get a midwife or have had to drive hours on a highway to access midwifery services. We have worked with our partners in Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Association of Midwives to help more families get this support closer to home.”

Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health

Approved by Alberta Association of Midwives members earlier this spring, the agreement

  • Maintains or increases current funding levels for established midwife practices.
  • Supports graduates of Mount Royal University’s Bachelor of Midwifery program so they can start their careers in Alberta instead of having to move to other provinces.
  • Manages the costs of liability insurance for midwives.
  • Creates a joint process that AHS and the association will use to determine how to allocate new funding.

“Alberta Health Services acknowledges and appreciates the work of Alberta’s midwives, who play an important role in the provision of maternal and newborn care. We know that more and more Albertans are turning to midwifery as a preferred option and we intend to support this growth. We are committed to working with our partners, including the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Association of Midwives, to improve access.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Alberta has publicly funded midwifery care since 2009. Since then, there has been a 229 per cent increase in the number of midwives practising in Alberta.

“We’re pleased to have a two-year agreement and the government’s continued commitment to increasing midwifery services for Alberta families. We look forward to continuing to work with our health-care partners to address the non-financial barriers to the sustainable growth of midwifery in Alberta.”

Nicole Matheson, president, Alberta Association of Midwives

Quick facts

  • Midwives serve individuals with low-risk pregnancies through a “course of care” that starts during pregnancy and continues after birth.
  • There are approximately108 midwives who have midwifery staff appointments with Alberta Health Services. Midwives currently assist with almost 5 per cent of pregnancies.
  • As part of Budget 2016, an additional $11 million was allocated for midwifery services over the next three years for a total of $49 million:
    • 2016-2017: $14.6 million
    • 2017-2018: $16.3 million
    • 2018-2019: $18.1 million
  • These funding increases have resulted in a year-over-year increase of 400 midwife-assisted births and a 30 per cent increase in the number of midwife-assisted births in Alberta in the last two years.
  • Number of midwife-assisted births by year:
    • 2014-2015 - 2,374
    • 2015-2016 - 2,774
    • 2016-2017 - 3,174
    • 2017-2018 - 3,574 (projected)
    • 2018-2019 - 3,974 (projected)

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