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Leah Hackett, seen here weighing a newborn, is a member of the group that applied to have the birthing centre in Ottawa. (Jennifer Beard/CBC)

A new birthing centre to be run by midwives is set to open this summer in Ottawa. Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deb Matthews, announced plans for the new centre this afternoon at the Midwifery Group of Ottawa on Carling Avenue.

This is the second centre announced for Ontario — the other in Toronto was announced last month and it is expected to open this summer as well.

The centres offer an alternative for parents who want to give birth outside of hospitals. The one slated for the capital will be open for all clients of an Ottawa midwife from any of the five local midwifery groups that applied for one of the two birthing centres.

"This is a historical moment for midwifery in Ontario," said Genevieve Gagnon of East Ottawa Midwives. "We're very excited for the opportunity to offer high quality maternity care to women and their families in the community."

Midwives assist women considered to have low-risk pregnancies with labour, birth and early post-natal care.

Midwives would deliver between 450 and 500 babies a year at the centre.

The ministry of health said about 15 per cent of Ontario babies — approximately 22,000 of 142,000 — are delivered by the 650 registered midwives across the province.

According to research, midwife-assisted, out-of-hospital births at home or in a birth centre are as safe as a hospital birth for healthy women.