Women are taking action after the South Okanagan’s only midwives clinic, Willow Community Midwives, announced it is closing its doors due to a shortage of midwives.
A petition to Penticton MLA Dan Ashton is nearing 3,000 signatures in less than one week and a Summerland councillor is speaking out, after having two home births with Willow Midwives.
“Willow Community Midwives catch 30 percent of the babies in our area,” wrote Coun. Erin Carlson on her personal Facebook page.
“Both of my children were born at home under the professional guidance and care from the team at Willow Community Midwives.”
Carlson is asking people to write their MLAs and Minister of Health Adrian Dix.
“If you’ve been supported by midwives, now is your chance to support them back,” she wrote. “Let your politicians know how important midwifery services are to you, and why increased funding/government support is needed.”
On Feb. 5, Willow annouced that it was shutting down after 12 years of helping bring hundreds of babies into this world.
Willow Community Midwives has a form letter created to encourage people to email the provincial government in hopes that a comeback can be made to the South Okanagan one day.
According to the Midwives Association of B.C., midwives help with one-quarter of the province’s births. But the association says it is at a tipping point right now without government support.
In B.C. midwives face many challenges, including not being to enjoy the provincial benefits that other health care providers receive and not receiving pandemic pay, and many are leaving the profession as a result of feeling undervalued and burnt out.
According to the Midwives Association of B.C., the province’s midwives are the second-lowest paid group of Canadian midwives.
“Leaving the South Okanagan without a midwifery clinic will not only rob families of having outstanding pre-and postnatal care but will also overwhelm Penticton Regional Hospital as they will be taking on many new patients and will have to provide additional beds for those who had previously planned home births,” said Jaimee Peters who started the petition.
This translates into $145 million in savings between 2011 and 2018, said Peters.
If you want to sign the petition click here.