Quebec midwives mobilizing against Bill 15
Amid the potential loss of their professional autonomy, midwives throughout Quebec protesting
Midwives throughout Quebec will be gathering in the streets of Montreal, Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Carleton-sur-Mer and Gaspé at 2 pm, October 22 to contest the medical subservience of midwifery.
Bill 15 was first tabled by Health Minister Christian Dubé in spring 2023 in the form of a voluminous piece of legislation consisting of roughly 300 pages. The bill which would change more than 30 laws in the province would also come with the creation of a new health management organization titled ‘Santé Quebec’ under the purpose of making “the healthcare system more efficient.” If the bill is passed, Santé Quebec will aim to promote better collaboration between professionals within the healthcare network by overseeing all day-to-day operations in hospitals and similar facilities. While the intention was to lift the burden on doctors and to allow for more mobility with staff, over 10,000 midwives and health-care professionals across Quebec have voiced their discontentment in an open letter.
“The year 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the legalization of midwifery in Quebec and its integration into the healthcare network,” read the public address. “This legalization was the fruit of many years of struggle for the recognition of this essential profession that it centered on women's freedom of decision. Women have long demanded to be able to choose their place of birth, to choose the type of care they wish to receive throughout their pregnancy, during childbirth and in the weeks following.”
The letter expressed that the tabling of this bill without the consultation of midwives and their clients feels like a step backwards which undermines “the very foundations on which the profession was built and developed.”
Midwives who value longer appointments with expecting mothers, deciding between pregnancy diabetes screenings or ultrasounds and experiencing birth at home or in birthing centers feel this bill will impact the autonomous nature of midwifery.
“These and other choices are now under threat,” stated the call to action. “Placing midwives under the supervision of other professionals who practice in a different and distinct paradigm of care will encourage the growth of a pathological approach to pregnancy and childbirth.”
In response to the outcry and as part of the healthcare reform project, Québec Solidaire deputy Vincent Marissal tabled a motion in the National Assembly on May 5, 2023, to ask the government “to ensure that Bill 15 continues to guarantee these front-line professionals their autonomy of practice.” Adding that Quebec should recognize that midwives have shown their ability to “organize their services in collaboration with other professionals and with families and communities,” in the course of the last two decades.
The gatherings on Oct. 22 are intended to be festive, familial, and peaceful. Children will be welcome and encouraged to come with ground chalk, percussions, and snacks. Volunteers face painters will be present to decorate the faces of those who are interested. Throughout the afternoon guest speakers, public personalities and organizers will voice their concerns on Bill 15. Midwives will also be present to share their testimonies.
As the thorough study of the 1,100-article bill continues, midwives, health professionals and civil society organizations continue to fight for its reform.