The province says it has reached a deal with registered midwives, five months after more than 200 midwives threatened to walk off the job.
Health Minister Terry Lake says under the agreement, the government will increase funding by 5.5 per cent over five years, which includes an undisclosed “modest” salary increase for midwives, and $1.5 million in investment to sustain the profession.
Recent contract agreements between the province and public service unions have limited wage increases of 5.5 per cent over five years,
Registered midwives began job action, including not taking new clients, in October after announcing in July they would terminate their agreement with the government in 90 days if a deal wasn’t reached.
They were seeking a 15-per-cent wage increase and funding to hire more practising midwives.
The deal will help increase access to care options for mothers and families, particularly those who live in rural areas, Lake said, in a statement Tuesday morning.
He said it also provides for the integration of midwives into primary maternity care planning and jointly run government committees.
Lake said a further $200,000 has been earmarked to expand services that midwives will deliver over the next half decade, adding that a discussion of what those services will be is still in the preliminary stage.
Ganga Jolicoeur, executive director of the Midwives Association of BC, said in the statement that the agreement is good news for the midwifery profession and for B.C.’s women and families.
“It will provide the supports required to grow and sustain our profession, enhance midwifery services and increase access to maternity care, especially in rural communities.”
There are 260 registered midwives in B.C., of which about 200 are practising. Over the last year, they assisted nearly 8,600 births, or about 18 per cent of the total number of births in B.C., according to the ministry.
Midwives are licensed to manage normal pregnancies, deliveries and postpartum care. The midwifery degree program at The University of B.C. is a four-year undergraduate degree program established in 2002.
It was expanded in 2012 to double the number of seats in the program from 10 to 20.
Midwives have been licensed in B.C. since 1998 and their services are covered under the province’s Medical Service Plan. Jolicoeur has said that a midwife earns about $3,000 from a typical client seen from conception to six weeks after delivery. From that, she will have to pay for travel, insurance and other expenses.