In 2014, Ontario midwives celebrated the completion of twenty years of regulated and funded midwifery and currently, there were over 700 registered midwives in the province. Ontario was the first province in Canada to regulate and legislate midwifery. The profession is now regulated in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. Other provinces and territories are in the process of integrating midwifery into their health care systems.
The Ontario model of midwifery is based on three principles:
- Continuity of Care - Midwifery care is available to clients throughout their pregnancy, labour, birth, and the first six weeks after birth. Midwives spend time developing relationships with clients and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Surveys of midwifery clients in Ontario have shown that clients consistently give high priority to working with a "known care provider." Clients value the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with their midwives. This relationship allows midwives to provide individualized and responsive care. A known care provider removes much of the anxiety from childbirth, and this often results in greater client satisfaction and fewer costly interventions.
- Informed Choice - Midwifery clients may choose to give birth at home or in hospital or in a free standing birth centre if there is one in their neighborhood. Midwives maintain hospital privileges at many Ontario hospitals and work collaboratively with other health care practitioners.
- Choice of Birthplace - Midwifery clients may choose to give birth at home or in hospital. Midwives maintain hospital privileges at many Ontario hospitals and work collaboratively with other health care practitioners.
There are two routes by which midwives can achieve registration in Ontario.
First, they may graduate from the Ontario Midwifery Education Program (MEP). This is the four-year BHSc (Midwifery) degree Program offered by a consortium of three universities - Ryerson University, McMaster and Laurentian Universities.
The second route is for those midwives who have been educated in other jurisdictions and who may qualify for registration by completing the International Midwifery Pre-Registration Program (IMPP) through Ryerson University Continuing Education Department. The MEP and IMPP thoroughly prepare midwives to support, counsel, monitor, and assist pregnant and birthing women and their babies. Midwives must also fulfill the College of Midwives of Ontario's registration requirements.
Each year approximately 90 new midwives are registered which will make midwifery care available to more women throughout Ontario. Continuing education is mandatory for all midwives in Ontario. Midwives are constantly upgrading their skills and participating in regular mandatory peer review. Colleagues and clients provide ongoing, formal feedback that ensures midwives are providing high quality, responsive care.
As a partner in the Ontario Midwifery Education Program, Ryerson University collaborates with the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM), the College of Midwives of Ontario and midwifery consumer groups to continue the development of an outstanding midwifery care system for women and their families in Ontario.