Alberta expanding what midwives can do, on top of funding increases

Alberta is expanding what midwives can do.

New rules will see the College of Midwives of Alberta set the entry requirements

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman poses for a photo with new mom Salima Versi and her six-month-old son Hallaj at a news conference announcing changes to midwifery in Alberta. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Alberta is expanding what midwives can do.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says midwives who complete additional training will be allowed to do more, including prescribing a broader range of prescription drugs and contraceptives.

They will also be allowed to induce labour and use ultrasounds to determine fetal position.

Hoffman says broadening what midwives can do will give patients easier and faster access to those services.

The changes will bring Alberta in line with many other provinces and territories.

Alberta has also increased funding for midwifery services by $11 million over the last three years, bringing the total to $49 million.

"For families this means women in Alberta will have more access to quality maternity services and these services will be provided closer to home," Hoffman told a news conference Wednesday.

"For midwives this means maximizing the use of their skills, knowledge, and expertise. And it also means greater integration and authority for midwives within our health-care system."

The new rules will see the College of Midwives of Alberta set the entry requirements, uphold the standards of practice, and investigate complaints.

A spokesperson for the province said the the profession of midwifery will be transitioned from the Health Disciplines Act to the Health Professions Act on April 1, 2019.

College president Cassondra Evans said the changes will take effect on April 1 for the 126 active registered midwives in Alberta.

Nicole Matheson, head of the Alberta Association of Midwives, said the changes will help grow the profession as well as provide better service.

Midwives help women during low-risk pregnancies, with care beginning during pregnancy and continuing after birth.

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