Groupe MAMAN staged a symbolic birthing strike March 25 at UQAM, demanding better working conditions for midwives in Quebec.
Groupe MAMAN (Mouvement pour l’Autonomie dans la Maternité et pour l’Accouchement Naturel) is an organization which supports the interests of practising midwives and women who choose to make use of their services.
In 2008, Quebec Minister of Health Yves Bolduc promised to open 13 new birthing centres across the province by 2018. As of now, no new birthing centres have been opened, angering midwives across the province.
Lysane Grégoire, President of Groupe MAMAN, identified two major obstacles to opening new birthing centres: insufficient provincial funding, and opposition from doctors.
“They have no confidence in us, they think it’s unsafe for women to give birth outside of the hospital with a midwife,” said Grégoire. “There’s not enough money for birthing centres and we think it’s because he doesn’t want to upset the doctors. He says, ‘Yes, we want to have 13 new birth centres in the next ten years,’ but he never says he will put in the money. We can’t make miracles.”
A press attache for Yves Bolduc said the Ministry of Health was working on opening birthing centres in collaboration with midwife agencies, whom they are asking to pay half of the cost of the new centres.
“It’s important to us that there be midwives throughout the province,” said the attache.
Members of Groupe MAMAN doubt that the province will follow through on these promises. Adding to their concern is the fact that students graduate from the midwifery programs will have difficulty finding jobs. According to Groupe MAMAN, only one in five applicants in Montreal are given work each year.
“The others are put on waiting lists and may never get placed,” said Grégoire. “It’s kind of crazy. There’s an enormous demand for jobs in Montreal.”
A petition to Bolduc from midwives across Quebec is currently circulating, and will be submitted May 5.
“We’re going to demand a meeting with [Bolduc],” said Grégoire. “We want to meet with him so that he can see the citizens impacted by these projects in Quebec.”