VANCOUVER – British Columbian families considering the services of a midwife during pregnancy and birth have reason to celebrate as government expands access to midwifery training and services.

Starting in 2012-13, the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) midwifery education program will be expanded from the existing 10 first-year spaces to 20 first-year spaces.

The Ministry of Advanced Education worked with UBC and the Ministry of Health to determine the need to double the number of B.C. midwife graduates to help meet the call from families for greater access to services. UBC will receive $1.914 million in one-time funding, and an increase of $833,920 in ongoing operating funding for a phased five-year expansion of the midwifery education program.

In addition, government recently reached a two-year service agreement with the Midwives Association of BC (MABC) that builds on government’s Healthy Families BC initiative by expanding access to midwifery care throughout the province.
The two-year service agreement reached with the Ministry of Health provides $500,000 in new funding to increase the number of home births in B.C. From this funding, midwives will be able to hire support staff so families can choose to deliver safely in their own homes, which will free up capacity and avoid the higher costs of delivery in the acute care system.

Through this service agreement, midwives will also have access to funding to establish and maintain a practice in rural and remote communities that currently do not have access to midwifery care. This will further help government provide access to care that supports healthy pregnancies, healthy babies and ultimately healthy families.