Calgary midwife calls for better distribution of funding

A Calgary midwife says she may be forced to close her new practice because of how Alberta Health has allocated funding for midwives in the province. But her fortune may improve once the provincial budget is released next month.

Otherwise Cassie Evans says she may be forced to close her new practice

Cassie Evans is a registered midwife in Calgary. (Erika Stark/CBC)

A Calgary midwife says she may be forced to close her new practice because of how Alberta Health has allocated funding for midwives in the province. 

But that could change once the provincial budget is released next month. On Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman hinted that it could contain good news for midwives.

"If I were an expecting mother and or midwife, I would be looking forward to April 14th with hope and optimism," Hoffman said.

She declined to get into specifics but said that if she was a mom, she'd be "excited."

Cassie Evans has been a registered midwife for seven years. Last September, she left her job and lost her seniority to open her own clinic, Honeycomb Midwives, with three other midwives.

It was around that time the provincial government announced it was funding 400 more midwife-assisted births, or courses of care, bringing the total in the province to 2,774.

"There was a lot of encouragement from Alberta Health Services to start these practices and then to focus on [certain] areas," Evans told the Calgary Eyeopener. "We oriented our practice towards that, thinking that was in line with where the province wanted to go but when the funding came out it didn't support that."

Unfair allocations

On Friday, the province released the funding allocations for midwives in the province. Evans' clinic, which also employs three other experienced midwives, received 53 courses of care — the equivalent of a little more than one full-time position.

"We knew that there was a shortage of courses of care," Evans said.

"What we weren't expecting is that experienced midwives, in the way the allocation would go, that their experience wasn't used at all in terms of how they decided to allocate the funds."

She said the allocation has left her at a loss.

"I'm financially devastated by this," Evans said. "Between the money for the startup for the business and also signing a three year lease, I have no idea what I'm going to do."

Long wait list

About 1,800 women in Alberta are currently on a wait list for care from one of the province's midwives.

Evans' clinic has 70 women in care and only 53 courses of care to fund them, which means some women may have to pay privately for their care. 

A spokesperson for Health Minister Sarah Hoffman (pictured) says midwives will receive good news in the upcoming provincial budget. (CBC)

Before receiving funding in 2009, midwives in Alberta worked on a private-pay system, but Evans said she fears that will move midwifery into a two-tiered system. There are no regulations in place against paying for a midwife privately.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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