PEI

Aylward now says P.E.I. will have midwives operating this fall

Prince Edward Island’s health minister has set a new target for when midwives could start to practise in the province’s publicly funded health-care system.

Minister commits to full-time program co-ordinator and 3 midwives to begin

The Canadian Association of Midwives says use of the service has been linked to lower rates of preterm births, lower rates of losses at any gestational age, and lower rates of caesarean section during childbirth. (Shutterstock)

Prince Edward Island's health minister has set a new target for when midwives could start to practise in the province's publicly funded health-care system.

James Aylward told CBC News late Tuesday that he aims to start filling some key positions this spring, with a view to having services available to expectant mothers this fall.

Aylward's update came after some Island midwifery advocates expressed concern about delays — a year after the health minister's original target date of January 2020 had passed. 

"I'm extremely proud of the work that was done by our staff to move this program forward. And again, I'm regretful that it's taken as long as it has," the minister told CBC's Jessica Doria-Brown.

"But through tenacity and determination, we are going to see this through. And P.E.I. is going to see a great midwifery program introduced here in 2021."

Aylward said regulations are currently being written, with a view to having them finished this spring.

The government will also recruit a full-time permanent midwifery co-ordinator this spring, Aylward said, with the hiring of three midwives to follow.  

Focus groups, health-care providers, and a consultant have been working toward the new deadlines, he said.

"It's extremely important that we have everybody on the same page when you're introducing a new health-care service into an existing realm.… We've done the due diligence. We've listened to people. And we feel that we know what needs to be done."

Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, said, 'P.E.I. is going to see a great midwifery program introduced here in 2021.' (Nicole Williams/CBC)

As for the delay, Aylward said: "My timelines may have been a bit aggressive as a junior minister at the time. I admit that."

On Monday, the Canadian Association of Midwives said there are many trained midwives from the Atlantic provinces who are practising elsewhere while they wait for their medical specialty to be regulated back home. 

"I imagine [some] would welcome the opportunity to return and serve their home community," said president Alexandra Bacon.  

Bacon said the use of a midwife's services has been linked to lower rates of preterm births, lower rates of losses at any gestational age, and lower rates of caesarean section during childbirth.

More from CBC P.E.I.

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