Midwifery gets a breather as Finance Minister reverses some proposed budget cuts

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek promises Behchokǫ̀ will be part of planned program expansion before end of 2027

Midwives provide counselling, information on pregnancy, sexual health, they order tests, provide ultrasounds (as pictured), do PAP smears, prescribe medication and provide continuing education during and after the birth. (Illustration courtesy of Picryl.)

The territorial government has partially reversed plans to cut nearly $1 million from midwifery services as part of its 2024 proposed budget.

Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek made the announcement at a committee hearing late Wednesday afternoon.

“Midwives provide a valuable service to support health care in a culturally sensitive and trauma informed way. The GNWT supports midwifery and continues to support the expansion of midwifery to communities where women otherwise do not have access to birthing services.

NWT Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek in Assembly on June 12. (Image courtesy of Assembly Livestream.)

“To help achieve that goal, we will reinstate the manager and senior consultant midwifery positions for a total of $331,000 ongoing. Health and social services also commits, within the life of this government, to expand midwifery services to cover two more communities that do not have birthing services, including Behchokǫ̀ and a yet to be determined second community.

Midwifery proponents were extremely concerned over plans to eliminate $990,000 from the proposed 2024-2025 budget.

CKLB this week profiled two students who had hoped to study to be midwives in the NWT.

The pair said if made, the budget cuts would be a major setback to the midwifery program “undoing decades of work.”

The Midwives Association of the Northwest Territories also stated the funding cuts were made without any consultation with the government’s own Advisory Committee on Midwifery or the Indigenous Advisory Board.

The Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight also recommended restoring the funding.

Map shows location of men’s and women’s facilities at Fort Smith Correctional Complex. (Courtesy of Google Maps.)

In addition to the midwifery program, Minister Wawzonek also said a partially filled men’s jail will stay open in Fort Smith, saving dozens of union positions.

“Funding to maintain the Fort Smith Correctional Centre will be reinstated for Budget 2024-2025,” said Wawzonek.

“I have spoken more than once about the important role that employee feedback played in the fiscal sustainability work that is underway across the GNWT.

“Since the release of the 2024 2025 Budget, we have continued to receive further feedback to support cost savings within corrections and its underutilized facilities.”

All changes to the proposed budget will be listed today by Wawzonek.

Today is the final day of the spring sitting until the Assembly returns in the fall.



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.