In the fall sitting of the House of Assembly in 2008, the provincial government repealed an old law regulating the practice of midwifery.
Then-health minister Ross Wiseman introduced the repeal bill at second reading and promised to replace it with a new law:
We envisage under the new legislation midwifery being an autonomous profession, separate and apart from nursing. [Hansard, 01 Dec 08]
The Health Professions Act – passed by the House of Assembly in 2010 – made it possible for government to set up midwives as a small, self-regulating profession.
After another four years, you’d think we might be a bit closer to what Wiseman originally promised. If you thought that, you’d be wrong.
Health minister Susan Sullivan announced on Thursday that it will take at least another five to seven years to allow midwives to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador.
We can say at least that long because a report on implementing midwifery recommended the provincial government use that period of time to set everything up. The report included a recommendation that the provincial government hire midwives as part of regional health authority staff.
What Sullivan announced on Thursday was that the report “will help guide the establishment of midwifery.” First up will be development of new regulations and appointment of a co-ordinator and an advisory committee to “inform the process” of setting up midwifery in the province. The announcement used the kind of bureaucratic language that usually comes with commitments that are plastic. It didn’t contain any firm details or timelines.
In case you haven’t done the math, it’s been about seven years since Sullivan and her colleagues promised to create new midwifery legislation and four years since they put a law in place for midwifery regulation. Tack another seven years on top of that you have a total of 14 years from the time they repealed the law to the time when midwifery will likely be properly regulated and available in the province.