Midwifery Association spanks NWT cabinet over proposed nearly $1M funding cut

This week, the GNWT's Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight recommended to restore the proposed $990,000 reduction regarding midwifery. (Photo courtesy Midwives Association of the Northwest Territories.)

The territorial government regards midwifery care as “peripheral and dispensable,” as it threatens to cut nearly $1 million from midwifery services.

That’s the position of the Midwives Association of the Northwest Territories, which stated in a release today the potential $990,000 cash shortfall, currently under consideration by the Legislative Assembly, would eliminate nearly half of all midwifery positions in the NWT.

That would include four practitioner positions created in 2021 to provide services and outreach to the communities of Yellowknife, Behchoko`, Dettah, and N’dilo.

The Association alleges the cabinet has put forth this budget proposal without any consultation with the government’s own Advisory Committee on Midwifery, which is mandated to provide expert advice to the Minister, the Department of Health, and the Health Authorities on matters pertaining to the development and expansion of midwifery services.

Similarly, the Indigenous Advisory Board has not been included in any discussions about this proposal despite the impact it will have on the future development and provision of culturally-safe sexual and reproductive care services for Indigenous communities and training opportunities for Indigenous midwives.

The Association stated these proposed cuts are “contrary to the expressed needs and calls for expanded midwifery care that have been voiced by citizens of the NWT,” going back to the first public engagements in Fort Smith more than 25 years ago, and echoed in subsequent public engagements undertaken by the government in 2012 and 2017.

The government’s proposal to cut the Yellowknife positions and the associated manager position represents a major blow to any plans to train midwives in the north.

The Association stated that there are two midwifery students from Yellowknife, currently enrolled in programs in the south, who were very much looking forward to doing some of their training in Yellowknife; those plans now hang in the balance.

The issue has been repeatedly raised during Oral Questions by several Regular MLAs this week.

And on Wednesday, the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight recommended to restore the proposed $990,000 reduction regarding midwifery. It also called for a model be developed for travelling midwives that ultimately reduces the costs of medical travel for residents.

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: james.oconnor@cklbradio.com.