Overdue: Midwives Wait for Government to Deliver

In a healthcare system already struggling to meet the needs of its population, the recent decision of midwives to go on strike has highlighted a critical issue that demands immediate attention. The invaluable contributions made by midwives cannot be understated and must be recognized by health authorities and government.  It is disheartening to witness midwives’ distress reaching a tipping point. As we take a stand for fair treatment and recognition, it is imperative that Manitobans are aware of the workforce issues creating barriers to excellent and accessible reproductive healthcare.

Midwives play an indispensable role in prenatal care, providing essential services to pregnant people before, during, and after childbirth. Their expertise and compassionate care enhance health outcomes for both mothers and newborns, while promoting a positive birthing experience. The holistic approach and personalized attention offered by midwives create an environment of trust and support that is crucial for families during this transformative period.

Unfortunately, the dedication and skill of midwives in Manitoba have been met with inadequate compensation and insufficient resources. Despite their pivotal role in the healthcare system, midwives face glaring disparities in pay, workload distribution, and professional recognition compared to other healthcare professionals.  Expansion of service sites and funded positions remains stagnant.  Nearly half of midwives working in Winnipeg have only ever worked under an expired agreement.  This has led to an overwhelming feeling of undervaluation and frustration among midwives.

Meaningful and immediate action must be taken to avert the looming strike and restore the trust and morale of midwives.  Primarily, fair compensation must be provided, commensurate with the vital services midwives render.  Our expertise and commitment to patient care deserve equitable remuneration.  Midwives want to continue delivering high-quality services without the financial burden of increased hours of uncompensated on call time.  Retaining experienced midwives and maintaining appropriate staffing levels is crucial to program stability and future growth into underserved areas of the province.

Investing in midwifery will increase access to experts in low-risk birth, and promote healthy beginnings for Manitoban families.  Our expertise results in improved outcomes and less surgeries.  Hundreds of Winnipeg families are able to birth outside of the hospital with the care of midwives every year, saving hospital beds and staff for patients requiring higher levels of care.  Recognition of our contribution to the healthcare system should be followed by meaningful efforts to increase our leadership in planning for sustainable reproductive healthcare delivery that is tailored to the communities served.

The first and most urgent step forward is averting a strike.  Midwives have been waiting long enough, we must have a fair contract to keep our skilled professionals working.  On June 15th midwives will join thousands of healthcare professionals on strike because we can no longer afford to be ignored.