May 5th, 2021

Northern midwives call for action as Ford cuts Laurentian midwifery program

SUDBURY – An online townhall on midwifery hosted by Sudbury MPP Jamie West on International Day of the Midwife found that the Ford government has not stopped the elimination of Laurentian’s midwifery program.

“There has been no real commitment from Ross Romano or Doug Ford to save Laurentian’s midwifery program,” said West. “Eliminating Canada’s only bilingual midwifery program is destructive and makes no sense. Removing this cuts a crucial health service for expectant mothers across Northern Ontario, and impedes the training of hundreds of health care workers for our communities.”

West was joined by MPP France Gélinas (Nickel Belt), the NDP’s Health critic, Dr. Kirsty Bourret, a registered midwife who was faculty for the midwifery program, Elizabeth Leblanc, fourth year francophone midwifery student, Abigail Roseborough, third year indigenous midwifery student and Aimée Carbonneau, a working midwife in northern Ontario. They discussed the devastating impacts the cut to the Laurentian University midwifery program will have on faculty, students, francophone communities, Indigenous communities, and northern health care as a whole.

Laurentian’s midwifery program is the largest and only program of its kind in Canada. According to their court affidavits, Laurentian has advocated in recent years for increased funding for this program but has been unsuccessful to date.

“Northern education is greatly limited as it is, let alone Indigenous education. Keeping a midwifery program in the North will greatly increase access, and the connectivity of the North with the rest of Ontario,” said Roseborough.

“We want a commitment from our government and Minister Romano that a midwifery education program is reopened and housed in Northern Ontario,” said Dr. Bourret. “When midwives study in the North, they stay in the North. Graduates of the LU program represent 60% of the midwives currently practicing in Northern Ontario. 20% of these LU Northern midwives are Indigenous and 50% are Francophone or bilingual. This demonstrates a critical contribution to reproductive services in Northern Ontario and that Laurentian was more than succeeding in its mandate to increase services in Northern, Francophone and Indigenous communities.”

“Constant underfunding from consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have put Ontario’s universities in an impossible situation.” said West. “The results from the secretive CCAA process make absolutely no sense to anybody. The Ford government must provide the funding Laurentian University needs in order to be successful. Our students deserve to graduate from the programs that they enrolled in, our community needs to have a voice in the solutions, and we need a minister in place who’s actually going to stand-up for post-secondary education in the North.”