As the final mail-in ballots are counted and we await official confirmation of our next government, we call on every member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to take immediate action to support B.C.’s maternity care system. Currently, midwives are involved in 25% of all primary maternity care in our province but are burning out in the absence of fair compensation and support.
We are pleased that the Liberals, BC NDP and BC Greens have all made a commitment to improving access to primary care in our province. What midwives and the families they serve need now is for government to endorse concrete solutions to improve their compensation and support to ensure B.C. families continue to have access to midwifery care.
Like family doctors, midwives provide primary care during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, including taking care of newborns. Each year, midwives care for over 10,000 families, but midwives have carried much of the cost of this care on their own, through their financial, physical and mental health.
Right now, today, B.C.’s midwives are the only profession in our provincial healthcare system without parental leave or benefits, such as disability or retirement programs. Additionally, B.C.’s midwives have to cover costs for medical supplies and office overhead out of their own pockets. This is now made worse with the COVID-19 pandemic as they have received no assistance to offset costs associated with increased sanitation and physical distancing requirements as well as the necessary move to virtual care. B.C.’s midwives were also left out of pandemic funding programs that were available to other provincial healthcare workers.
With these challenges, midwives are burning out. In fact, one out of three midwives in B.C. say that it is likely they will leave the profession within three years due to burnout. This loss would be felt by thousands of families across our province but perhaps most acutely by those living in our remote, rural and Indigenous communities.
It is time for B.C.’s next government to stand up for midwives and take action so midwives can continue to serve B.C. families. This means creating a contract that includes fair wages, fair benefits and the support necessary for midwives to continue in the profession.
Specifically, here are three ways our next government can ensure B.C. families can continue to have access to midwifery care:
B.C.’s midwives are eager and ready to work with all political parties to address our critical concerns. We will continue to share actionable ideas to address the challenges, keep midwives working in B.C. and improve access to midwifery services for all British Columbians.
As we await confirmation of our next government, please email or phone your MLA-elect local candidate as well as select public servants today to help relay this important message: Support BC Midwives with equal pay and equal benefits so that midwives can continue to support families across the province.