In 2008 I organized the International Day of the Midwife rally in Lethbridge, AB. This rally was different than previous years of celebration, because this time we had a clear message. There were 5 rallies across Alberta happening simultaneously, and we all had one mission. Our mission was to have our voices heard, and demand that midwifery services be covered under Alberta Health Care. We had speakers, signs, petitions, and even a cake. It was a pivotal moment in the 20 year long fight for midwifery funding.
A few short months later I received a letter in the mail from Ron Liepert (Minister of Health at the time), telling me some amazing news. Midwifery was going to be funded as of April 2009! Although I had already birthed all my babies, and paid out of pocket, receiving this news was one of the best moments of my life. Future birthing mothers would have choice, and be supported in their choice. We made some progress! Some real progress.
Although the progress we made was amazing, and the option for some women to use midwifery services is available, we are back in the trenches. We are here again, making our voices heard, and demanding funding once more. Because although midwives are funded, only a certain number of births are covered by health care. What this means for midwives is that many can’t even practice at full capacity, many can’t work at all, and many are just leaving the province. Funding is assessed on a yearly basis, instead of coming up with a long term coverage plan. This is not a sustainable system.
What this means for midwifery consumers is that you will most likely not be able to have a midwife. If only a handful of births are covered, then the rest of you will be put on waitlists, or simply turned away. It is crushing to know you’ve been turned away even though the midwives aren’t working full time (when they want to). That makes no sense.
With this new round of activism, the campaign is taking social media by storm. All over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people are posting pictures with statements of support and concern on them. People are sharing their stories of how midwives supported them in their journey, why they couldn’t receive midwifery care, and why they can’t work as midwives. The pictures are abundant, and the voices are loud.
Please consider sharing a picture of support. Even if you don’t have babies, you can join the campaign and show your support for Alberta’s midwives and women’s choice. Share this blog post and spread the word. Share your pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Join the MCAN – MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta Network group on Facebook, and post there too. Remember to use the hashtags #ABmidwives, #ABmaternitycarecrisis, and #mybabymybirth, and tag Sara Hoffman, Shannon Phillips, and your local AHS account. In Calgary it’s @AHS_yyczone on Twitter. Then, after that, consider sending a well thought out letter or e-mail to the Minister of Health, Sara Hoffman. The address for the Legislature building is:
423 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Canada T5K 2B6
Thank you Alberta for your voices, your stories, and your support. Thank you for getting your hands dirty in the trenches and fighting for something that truly matters and will make a difference in the lives of fellow Albertans. And don’t forget, your voice and your story is more important than you think and you are needed…now.