New Brunswick to hire 4 midwives in Fredericton as pilot project

Fredericton has been chosen as the site for introducing midwifery care in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick Families for Midwives chair says some expectant families need a midwife immediately

People have been advocating for midwifery care in the province for years. (Andrew Shurtleff/Associated Press)

Fredericton has been chosen as the site for introducing midwifery care in New Brunswick.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau said Monday the province will hire four midwives as part of a pilot project.

"I know that this has been a long time coming," Boudreau said. "And in fact it's been about 42 weeks since we announced it in our budgets." 

The former Liberal government adopted legislation to allow for midwives in 2008.

'We're finally seeing some action'

Boudreau said there are a lot of factors for the province's slow adoption of midwifery care.

"Unfortunately we're a small province with limited funds — sometimes it's the financing that's the problem, other times it's just making sure that we've got all the regulations in place, the proper legislation in place. It's making sure that the other professionals in the system are on board.

"So these things do sometimes take time, but we've been talking about it for a long time, we're finally seeing some action and within a few months we'll have a program up and running in New Brunswick."

He estimates that could take four to six months.

Midwives group says wait is too long

The chair of New Brunswick Families for Midwives, Sonya Burrill, says that's a long time for people who are expecting.

"There's still work to be done, but we must understand that there's expectant families that need a mid-wife now ... not a year from now and not even six months from now," she said.

Burrill has been advocating for midwifery care in the province for years. 

"We have members all across the province that really need midwives and now that this location has been announced we know that they're going to be waiting a lot longer," she said.

Boudreau said he expects the hiring process for the first of four midwives will begin next week.