University of Manitoba reaches agreement on midwifery program with McMaster

The University of Manitoba has reached an agreement with an Ontario school so that 14 midwifery students, who had been without a program, can continue studying this fall.

Memorandum of understanding reached with Ontario university to deliver program in Manitoba

Supporters hold signs outside the Manitoba Legislative Building on June 30 to support 14 midwifery students who learned their second-year courses may not be offered this fall. The provincial government announced Friday that an agreement has been reached with McMaster University to allow classes to continue. (CBC)

The University of Manitoba has reached an agreement with an Ontario school so that 14 midwifery students can continue studying this fall.

The provincial government announced on Friday that a memorandum of understanding has been reached with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., which will offer the Manitoba students admission to its Midwifery Education Program.

While the program is being offered by the Hamilton, Ont.-based university, the Manitoba students will be able to take classes at the U of M as McMaster transfer students. They will also be able to complete their clinical rotations in the province as well, according to the province.

"This new partnership will ensure the midwifery students in Manitoba who have already invested significant time and effort toward their studies can complete their coursework uninterrupted," Education Minister Ian Wishart said in a news release.

The students, who have finished their first year of studies, will be offered a "modified fall term" so they can complete courses that are required by the Ontario Midwifery Education program so they can move into clinical placements, the province said.

The status of Manitoba's four-year Bachelor of Midwifery program, which was to be jointly offered by the University College of the North and the U of M, has been in limbo since students were told in June that their second-year courses likely would not be offered in the upcoming academic year.

The reasons for the program's demise were mired in confusion, with university officials and midwives pointing to a lack of provincial government funding in the budget.

The Progressive Conservative government initially said the program was cancelled because of a lack of accreditation, then later suggested the University of Manitoba decided not to participate in the program.

The joint UCN-University of Manitoba program was launched by the previous NDP government.

In an emailed statement, current NDP health critic Matt Wiebe called the latest development "positive" but raised questions about it as well.

"It is positive that the PC government is now alert to the need for immediate action to ensure courses continue in the fall. However, we are uncertain what this means for Northern partnerships," he said.

"We are hopeful that the announcement today meets the needs of students, though we are unaware whether any of the students were notified of these new plans."

While Friday's announcement provides a short-term solution for the 14 students, a long-term solution for the program remains unclear. New student applications are currently not being accepted.