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This article was published 30/8/2019 (219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There will be no midwifery program at the University of Manitoba this fall, but the Progressive Conservative party is promising to have one in 2020 if it is re-elected.
Students interested in pursuing a midwifery degree are being advised of the prerequisite courses required to qualify for the program, and to enroll in those courses this year, the U of M College of Nursing dean Netha Dyck said in a prepared statement.
"We were hoping there’d be an intake this fall," said Midwives Association of Manitoba president Sarah Davis. The advocacy group has been lobbying the province to fund more midwife positions in Manitoba to meet the demand for their service.
This year, there were 12 midwifery grads in the second class to graduate in Manitoba after the troubled University College of the North program, which began in 2006, was discontinued in 2016. The provincial government agreed to a partnership with McMaster University in Hamilton to allow students in the program to complete their studies at U of M. The government didn’t provide a long-term solution for a future program.
Last Sunday, PC candidate Sarah Guillemard said in a statement that a four-year bachelor of midwifery program would launch at the University of Manitoba in 2020 for up to six students to start. Three of the seats would be earmarked for Indigenous and northern students, where the need for midwives is at its highest.
"By training Manitoba students here at home, this initiative goes well beyond an NDP promise made earlier in the campaign," the PC candidate’s statement said. "Under the NDP, only eight students graduated from the University College of the North’s disastrous multimillion-dollar program over an eight-year period."
Announced in 2004, it was launched in 2006 to great fanfare. It was intended to train Indigenous women to be midwives so they could serve their own communities in the north.
Instead, the midwifery program left The Pas in 2009 for Winnipeg before a single degree had been earned. The NDP had been spending $859,000 a year for the program.
The NDP released a statement about the PC promise: "It’s hypocritical for Brian Pallister to congratulate himself on this commitment when, as the Winnipeg Free Press reported, he cancelled the midwifery training program and then refused to hire 10 out of the 12 graduates."
The Midwives Association of Manitoba president maintains that midwifery is not a partisan issue.
"It’s an essential service," Davis said. The advocacy group issued a statement on Friday saying it is "pleased that midwifery and reproductive health-care is being discussed in the midst of this election campaign."
After the election, the midwives look forward to meeting with those elected to office "who are ready to commit to the advancement of midwifery in Manitoba, and move towards implementing real change through education, employment, and improved standards for midwives and families."
There are many benefits to providing midwifery education in Manitoba, says the registrar of the College of Midwives of Manitoba, who’d been waiting to hear if the midwifery program at the U of M would continue this fall.
"A robust education program is essential to ensure that midwives are qualified to do the work," Janice Erickson said.
"Two of the greatest benefits are people from Manitoba with a midwifery education in Manitoba, stay in Manitoba," Erickson said. "The other is having people who know their communities."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Updated on Friday, August 30, 2019 at 8:02 PM CDT: Adds NDP comments