Montreal family still fighting for birth certificate

A Montreal family is in bureaucratic limbo waiting for a birth certificate for their baby after using an unregistered midwife.
Heather Mattingsley has waited five months for a birth certificate for her daughter. (CBC)

A Montreal family is in bureaucratic limbo waiting for a birth certificate for their baby after using an unregistered midwife.

Sunshine Rose, now five months old, is not legally registered in the province because the midwife who attended to her home birth couldn’t provide legal attestation.

Her mother, Heather Mattingsley, tried for several months to get a registered midwife to deliver her child.

But, after languishing on a waiting list at two birthing centres, she connected with an underground midwife who had the credentials, but not the civil authority, to supervise the birth.

Mattingsley said the midwife provided her with all the forms needed to get her daughter a birth certificate, but the province wouldn’t accept the documentation she submitted.

"I felt helpless," she said. " I was kind of put into a corner. . . I’ve gone above and beyond what the civil law has required me to do."

The province has now asked her to undergo a physical exam or have a DNA test to prove the child is hers.

A spokesperson for the province’s director of civil status wouldn’t comment on this specific case, but said only a registered midwife or doctor can attest to a birth.

Midwives must be associated with a birthing centre to be registered in Quebec. 

Mattingsley said she turned to an underground midwife because the waiting list was too long at the birthing centres.

According to the province’s association of midwives, four out of five women looking for a midwife in Montreal are put on waiting lists.

Demand not met

Association president Claudia Faille said there simply aren’t enough registered midwives to meet the demand.

"That’s unacceptable," she said. "There needs to be a big effort from the Quebec government to develop the profession in Quebec."

Three years ago, Quebec promised to set up 13 additional birthing centres in the province, but only one has opened so far.