Rallies were held in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Fort McMurray on Monday to call on the province to increase funding for midwives.


Leslie Yusul and Michael Parry also attended the rally at the Alberta legislature. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC News)

Mothers of Change, the advocacy group behind the rallies, says there are 77 midwives in the province, meaning many pregnant women can't have one.

The groups says that British Columbia, which has a million more people, has two and a half times as many midwives.

"We have the right to choose where and with whom we give birth," said Chelsea Casson, executive director of Mothers of Change. "And right now ... generally, we don't have a choice."

About 150 people showed up to the rally at the Alberta legislature where a pregnant Leslie Yusul carried a sign reading "midwives = good economics."

Yusul believes that pregnant women receive better care from midwives than from doctors.

"You don't feel rushed when you're in your appointment with them," she said. "You feel like you're making a connection with them and that they actually get to know you."

At the Calgary rally outside the McDougall Centre, more than 30 adults and their children gathered, many holding signs.

"At the end of the day women are paying health care dollars and we would like to see those dollars follow us to whichever  care provider we feel is best for our situation. They can do hospital, birth centres or home births," said Emma Welfare.

"We are here as women, as mothers, to say that we would like to see a change."

The Alberta Association of Midwives, which doesn't support the demonstrations, signed a $37 million, three-year deal with Alberta Health Services.  A spokesperson said no registered midwives attended the rallies.

"We are not supportive of these small consumer groups' message and tactics and feel that it is a little disruptive to our main cause and purpose – growing midwifery in the province," said president Joan Margaret Laine in a statement.

Alberta Health says the funding for midwives has grown since midwives first became publicly funded in the province in 2010.