Health Minister Theresa Oswald said she is working with the College of Midwives of Manitoba to increase the number of practising midwives in the province.
She said the number of midwives in Manitoba could double virtually overnight if the college revised its admission criteria regarding internationally trained professionals.
Oswald made the comment this afternoon at the year-old Birth Centre, operated by the Women’s Health Clinic on St. Mary’s Road.
The centre was celebrating its 100th midwife-assisted birth since its grand opening in October 2011. It has now assisted in the birth of 112 babies.
On hand were the parents of the first and the 100th babies born at the centre, along with the babies themselves.
"Midwives offer their clients so much more than just the opportunity to give birth in this wonderful facility," Oswald said. "Staff at the birth centre offer a wide range of prenatal and postpartum care and supports for families, whether they are, or were, under the care of a midwife or a doctor."
The centre can handle 500 births a year. It has eight midwives on staff, although any midwife can use the facility to assist with a birth.
Joan Dawkins, executive director of the Women’s Health Clinic, said the midwife shortage has not yet restricted the number of births at the centre. But she said that more midwives will be needed if the facility is to reach its full potential.
Manitoba has more than 50 funded midwife positions, but there are only 35 to 40 practising midwives in the province. According to one estimate, Manitoba could use 100 midwives.
Updated on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 2:12 PM CST: Added photo.
2:18 PM: corrects estimate of midwives needed to 100