Midwife shortage frustrates Winnipeg mom
A Winnipeg woman says she is frustrated with a shortage of midwives in the city, which made it difficult for her to have her baby at home.
Heather Bays said it was not easy for her to find the midwife who helped her give birth to daughter Audrey six weeks ago.
She searched for six months, fearing her only options would be to give birth at home unassisted or go to a hospital.
"I was stressed and kind of terrified, to be honest," she told CBC News on Thursday.
"I just felt like my rights were being taken away from me. I was like, this is my right to birth my baby where I want."
The experience made Bays want to become a midwife, but she learned that the University College of the North — the only Manitoba school with a midwifery training program — has not produced any graduates since it was launched in 2006.
Manitoba government officials say the program has had a number of problems since it started, and no new students are being accepted until September 2014.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), which currently has 28 midwives, is currently recruiting more.
"Per capita, we have more midwives in Manitoba than we do have in the rest of the country," said Lori Lamont, the WRHA's chief nursing officer.
"That's not to say that we have all of the midwives that we would like to have."
Hired 5 midwives
The authority has recently hired five midwives from outside the province, but officials say it will be one year before they can take on clients.
Meanwhile, about 70 per cent of Winnipeg women who request a midwife are being turned away, the WRHA has acknowledged.
The shortage of midwives has left Bays wondering about the Birth Centre, which the provincial government spent $3.5 million to build in Winnipeg.
Since the centre opened in December 2011, just 95 babies have been born there, although it has an annual capacity of 500.
Bays said she thinks the money that was spent on the Birth Centre could have been used to get more midwives working in the province.
"It's great that we have it, but there's no one to staff it. So, that's sort of a problem. Maybe you should find people to staff it before building it?" she said.