Question re: Midwifery regulations - April 14, 2016

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Last year, the Premier said the government had accomplished all it was going to do in its mandate. I think Yukoners recognize that there’s a host of projects and issues that this government has plenty of work left to do on. One is midwifery.

After nearly 14 years in office, the Yukon Party has failed to move forward on regulating this practice. This highlights the lack of planning and leadership shown on this topic by the Yukon Party. Over a year ago, the Minister of Health and Social Services told this House — and I quote: that the “… government is currently considering regulating the practice of midwifery in the territory.” A year later, it’s obvious that this work will be left to the next government.

Mr. Speaker, why has the Yukon Party failed to regulate midwifery after 14 years in office?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: I thank the member opposite for this question. The relationship that we have built with the midwifery organization and those stakeholders that are involved is important. Mr. Speaker, as you know, the Yukon government struck a midwifery stakeholder working group to examine the practice of midwifery here in our territory, and we’ve provided funding to support a midwifery symposium which, I understand, will be held later this month, unless dates have changed — but I believe it is later this month.

We’ve had some great dialogue with the individuals who are involved in that working group and I look forward to the symposium, and we’ve provided funding to ensure that it happens. Perhaps the member opposite would be interested in attending that. We’ve created a great working relationship with the stakeholders and with the working group, and look forward to the symposium later this month.

Mr. Silver: I would love to attend the symposium, but there’s a part there that I’m not allowed to attend, and that’s where the government talks about how we can do this.

The minister did mention the symposium. I would love to go to that part — absolutely. For the record, Mr. Speaker, a Liberal government would regulate the practice of midwifery. We wouldn’t spend another 14 years talking about it.

Yukon is one of only two places in Canada that has no regulations or funding in place. There is currently no government funding for midwives as part of our health care system so mothers have to pay out of pocket for this service.

Will the minister confirm these regulations will not be ready before the next election?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: Again, I thank the member opposite for the question. Midwifery, as I indicated in my first response, is certainly something that is very important to look at in the territory.

I did mention in my first response — and the member is well aware — that we have struck a midwifery stakeholder working group and that we have provided funding for a symposium that I can confirm is on April 24. Regulating a new profession requires time and resources. Yukon government introduced nurse practitioners into Yukon’s health system just in 2012 and is currently undergoing the review of pharmacy and pharmacists legislation at this time.

As I mentioned in my first response, we’re grateful for the working relationship that we have with the midwifery stakeholder working group and look forward to putting on this symposium on the 24thof this month.

Mr. Silver: It stands to be said that we will not be debating new legislation in this session of the Legislative Assembly. Women and families will be out of pocket for the entire time and midwives have to live with the stress and uncertainty of operating in an unregulated environment. This is a topic of importance especially for Yukon communities.

It highlights a lack of planning and leadership by the Yukon Party on this topic. After 14 years of doing nothing, in the last year of its mandate the government is trying to appear supportive on this issue. Unfortunately, many questions remain unanswered because this government is dragging its feet on the issue.

Here are some questions: Where is the money in this year’s budget to actually work on these regulations? Are doctors supportive? Finally, how will rural communities be addressed if midwives must be within a close distance of a hospital?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: Again, I thank the member opposite for bringing this to the floor of the Legislature.

As I indicated in my first response, Yukon government struck a stakeholder working group pertaining to midwifery in the territory. Yukon government has provided them with funding in order to move forward with a symposium that they requested on April 24. Over the last number of months, we have created a very positive working relationship with the stakeholders who are involved and certainly look forward to hearing the thoughts and concerns from those individuals at the symposium.

As I had indicated in my second response — and the member should well know this — regulating any profession takes time, it takes resources and it takes planning, and that’s what this government is committed to do.