Nfld. & Labrador

Midwives upset about wait time for new regulations

A retired midwife is disappointed it will take five to seven years before the practice is implemented in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Midwife Sylvia Patey says she's disappointed that the provincial government is going to take such a long time to come up with new regulations for midwives. (CBC)

A retired midwife is disappointed it will take five to seven years before the practice is implemented in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Health Minister Susan Sullivan announced on Thursday that government is ready to join many other provinces in Canada by creating regulations for midwives.

A report on midwifery in the province was also released and will help to guide the process. The work was completed by two consultants from McMaster University and submitted to the province in December.

Sylvia Patey was a midwife in St. Anthony for more than 20 years, and was on a steering committee in the 1990s that wanted to move along the process of regulation. 

"That was shelved by a change in government. This is long overdue. About 20 professionals who met regularly in St. John's to thrash out the bones of the act," said Patey. 

"When Sir Wilfred Grenfell was setting up his hospital in St. Anthony, he needed the help of many professionals … one of those was midwifery. That is over 90 years ago now. They've [midwives] been working only in those parts of the province — until lately. I understand in St. John's today that there are women bringing in midwives and doulas from Ontario, to have that choice."

Safest births

Patey maintains women who use a midwife have the safest pregnancies and births.

"It might mean spending a bit up front, but in the long run, especially here in Newfoundland and Labrador, you are looking at saving thousands or millions of dollars."

Patey said while government takes years to put together a midwifery plan, many have given up the practice. 

She added government's news is hardest on midwives in St. Anthony who have to stop practicing — until a new plan is established.  

"It's bitter sweet. I am a midwife and I've worked in the north. I also feel for some of the women lived all their lives, maybe generations with midwives around them … and now that's not going to be there right now for a while."

Patey said she will continue to speak out about the health and cost benefits of midwifery and hopes it gets implemented a lot faster than seven years.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?